From £92,230
The Maserati GranTurismo Sport competes against more rounded rivals, but offers plenty of compelling Maserati mystique

What is it?

Revealed at the Geneva motor show earlier this year, the Maserati GranTurismo Sport is the replacement for the GranTurismo S - the model which arguably best embodied its deluxe brand of performance.

Packing a vociferous V8 engine, statuesque looks and a furrowed interior just big enough for four, the GranTurismo straddled its grand tourer brief rather well and met with a respectable amount of success (particularly in the US market). Consequently, this update embellishes the established formula rather than dramatically fiddling with it. 

The 4.7-litre V8 motor remains, but it has been boosted to a MC Stradale-rivalling 453bhp thanks to redesigned pistons, new variable valve timing management and an improved engine map. Torque delivery benefits too, rising from 362lb ft to 383lb ft. 

At this point (much as before), the model splits into two. For those interested in the grander end of touring, there’s a conventional six-speed ZF automatic dubbed MC AutoShift, and for those who prefer their V8s mated to something more visceral, there’s a six-speed electro-actuated manual transmission called MC Shift, which also gets marginally firmer suspension.

Both have been breathed on with the intention of improving function, with particular attention paid to improving shift times. As before, there is only a tenth of a second difference in 0-62mph times, which have fallen to 4.8sec and 4.7sec respectively. 

Outside, the Sport gets a MC Stradale-influenced polish, with new flared air intakes drawing the eye over a significantly redesigned bumper. The other changes are less consequential, perhaps – there are new wheels, tail lights, exhaust pipes and sideskirts – but only because they fade unheralded into a flawless Pininfarina backdrop. 

It’s easier to savour the alterations inside, where Maserati has at last redesigned the seats to offer better lateral support and has even managed to gain an additional 20mm for rear seat passengers in the process. The steering wheel also gets an ergonomic refresh, and several details (including new pedals and paddle shifters) have apparently been pinched from the Trofeo race car. 

What's it like?

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.

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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.

Should I buy one?

Yes, but only after you’ve been sat down and reminded that there are still better-rounded choices available for the money. The MC AutoShift is a fine Grand Tourer: sonorous, swift and nakedly charismatic, and it swallows four. But the Jaguar XKR and BMW 6-series will both accomplish the job for less and with possibly a superior sense of comfort, internal ambience and refinement.

For buyers of the harder, leaner MC Shift (whom Maserati already expects to be outnumbered two to one in the UK) the decision is even more fraught as the car is outdone in almost every way, shape and form by the new Porsche 911. Not to mention the presence of the even tauter MC Stradale above it, which is due to get its own 10bhp or so upgrade in a few months' time. 

However, such conflict is familiar ground for the Maserati customer, and with its flaws overlooked, the refreshed GranTurismo continues to serve up a man-sized portion of old brand mystique. No explanation of a purchase is necessary once you’ve seen one glint in the sun or heard it blat, burble and then shred the sky at high pitch. So yes, buy one. We dare you.

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Maserati GranTurismo Sport

Price: £90,390 Auto; 0-62mph: 4.8sec; Top speed: 185mph; Engine: 4691cc V8 petrol; Power: 453bhp at 7000rpm; Torque: 383lb ft at 4750rpm; Kerbweight: 1880kg; Economy: 18.2mpg; CO2: 360g/km; Gearbox: six-speed automatic

Maserati GranTurismo Sport MC Shift

Price: £93,720 MC Shift; 0-62mph: 4.7sec; Top speed: 186mph; Engine: 4691cc V8 petrol; Power: 453bhp at 7000rpm; Torque: 383lb ft at 4750rpm; Kerbweight: 1880kg; Economy: 19.8mpg; CO2: 331g/km Gearbox: six-speed electro-actuated

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Orangewheels 6 June 2012

Why not just give it the twin

Why not just give it the twin clutch box from the Ferrari California and be done with it?

tuga 25 May 2012

Maserati GranTurismo Sport

Not sure that the comparison with the 911 is a fair one. They seem to me to not be quite in the same league as one another. Not as much rivalling, more complementing each other.

And the 6er is so bland and sterile that it wouldn't even enter my mind as a rival for either of them.

kcrally 24 May 2012

Have you seen the second hand

Have you seen the second hand values of these maserati's. cheap as chips. basically its an italian aston martin.