Much will depend on which gearbox you’ve opted for. With the automatic ZF transmission, the GranTurismo has always been a softer, glossier animal, and with its seams now smoothed almost entirely away, it functions with an easy grace befitting a Grand Tourer. Maserati has programmed both operating modes with care; the default D setting will surf the V8’s restrained mid-range, while S slyly blips even on automatic downshifts, mines the heady 7500rpm peak and selects its ratios with better intuition than six or seven gearboxes we could mention.
The MC Shift is more cantankerous. Even with a lot of assistance from your throttle positioning, the upshifts are never going to be as wrinkle-free as the auto's, and time spent nodding like a dog in D can become tiresome. Nevertheless, the robotised manual has obvious benefits when you push on, not least because your involvement is a necessary and variable part of the experience. The automatic’s own M setting has been thoroughly improved and will serve the average Maserati customer very well, but there is an enthusiast's return to be had from nailing a second-to-third shift in a whirring split-second mesh of power and moving metal.
That gratifying theme, recognisable in the final eight-tenths, resonates through the rest of the MC Shift version, perhaps more than you’d give it credit for without driving the cars back to back. With its transaxle layout, it spreads slightly more of its bulk to the rear, returning a 47 per cent front/53 per cent rear weight distribution compared with 49/51 per cent for the auto.
That sounds like a marginal muddying of the dynamic water, but in actual fact the manual’s nose benefits from the reduction, feeling slightly more pliable and pointable under duress. Doubtless this sensation is added by a 10 per cent stiffening of the springs and anti-roll bars, a change which occurs in the hardware of both variants but one which the manual seems better able to take advantage of because of the AutoShift’s moderately softer base settings.
The V8’s extra power, which is only apparent right at the tail end of its magnificent, spiralling, wall-of-sound crescendo, is transmitted to the road with more assuredness in the MC Shift’s heftier tail, too. Predictably, the enjoyment scale is reset at its everyday end. With a touch more pliancy, the auto’s sleeker stride will be far more suited to the UK’s split-lip roads than the fibrous alternative, and it deals with urban driving with panache rather than patchiness.