While ‘off the pace’ is hardly a suitable term to apply to a car capable of getting to 62mph in just 4.7sec, the Granturismo is definitely feeling its age when compared with more obvious rivals. There is still a huge amount to like about it, especially its snarling Ferrari-built V8 engine, but much of what normally comes as standard in this rarefied segment is conspicuously lacking. There are no active safety features or radar cruise control – not even keyless start, the Granturismo fired into life with what looks suspiciously like a rebranded late 1990s Alfa Romeo key.
While the details are lacking, the fundamentals remain compelling. The naturally aspirated V8 is built by Ferrari in Maranello, and although it lacks the low-rev wallop of more modern turbo motors, it delivers plenty of Italian opera. Throttle response is outstanding and the engine loves to explore the top quarter of the tacho, its sonorous soundtrack augmented by a switchable sports exhaust. While this sounds great under hard use, it also creates some droning harmonics in the cabin at cruising speeds. The MC also gets a carbonfibre bonnet and a more aggressive diffuser.
While Maserati definitely killed the right gearbox – the old automated manual lunged like an attack dog on upshifts – the six-speed auto isn’t the sharpest, with slushy reactions at low speeds and changes that feel leisurely compared with a dual-clutch automatic, or even the much more advanced ZF eight-speeder that Maserati says the next-gen coupé will use.
Steering is similarly old-fashioned, with the hydraulic assistance passing on the sort of low-intensity feedback that electric systems filter out as unwanted noise. The rack itself is low geared, meaning lots of arm twirling in tighter corners. Grip levels are respectable, but the MC transitions to gentle understeer as its high limits approach, with the engine lacking the grunt to do much to alter the car’s inclination at anything other than low speeds or very high commitment levels. The brake pedal feels slightly inert, too, and the steel brakes will start to fade under hard road use.
Somewhat perversely, the Granturismo MC uses fixed-rate dampers while the cheaper Sport gets adaptive units, and the range-topper feels their absence. Even on smooth roads, the MC is bordering on being too firm, and we suspect it won’t cope well with the greater challenge of battle-scarred British roads. There is still a Sport button, but this only alters the throttle map and gearshift mode. The Granturismo Sport doesn’t feel quite as well lashed down at speed, but its greater pliancy suits the Granturismo’s eponymous continent-crossing dynamic mission better.
The new infotainment system works well and the intuitive touchscreen effectively negates the need for the rotary controller that still sits next to the gear selector. It sounds good, too, thanks to a standard Harmon Kardon speaker set-up. But the Granturismo’s cabin is where it feels oldest, with a slightly offset driving position and hard-to-see switchgear. Our test car also suffered from what sounded like leather-on-leather squeaking.