Indeed. Striking stuff isn’t it? From certain angles it’s truly sensational, particularly aspects like the taper of the nose, the A6GCS-style grille and the way the sills pinch and roll under the car to give a beautiful waisted look. But other details don’t work so well. Maserati is proud that the rear lights use the same LED technology that made the old 3200GT’s boomerang clusters possible. But why do these ones look so boring? In fact the back end looks remarkably like a new Mondeo’s. And the long 2.9m wheelbase needed to create four seats creates a very long-looking car.
And is it the true four-seater Maserati claims?
It is, although it’s never going to rival a Quattroporte for space and the seat squab is too low and therefore lacking in support so you wouldn’t want to be back there for hours. Six-footers will find headroom tight, and legroom too if they’re behind a driver of similar stature. But let’s get this in perspective: a Jag XK has zero rear room, a 911’s back seats are for kids only and even a 6-series isn’t as commodious. Only Merc’s bigger CL feels roomier. But when it comes to packaging four adults in elegant metalwork, the Maser’s in a class of one. And at £78,500 it’s even respectable value for money in the face of a six-figure Aston DB9 or Bentley GT.
Space aside, what’s the cabin like? And does it feel like it will last?
Let’s just say this is the best Maserati cabin we’ve yet come across. Perhaps not in terms of style – it’s quietly conservative, rather than Italian exotic in tone – but the materials, the leathers and plastics, and the feeling of solidity, is deeply impressive. And the satnav/audio system deserves special praise. Its 30GB hard drive allows you to save stacks of music and because the nav system doesn’t have to search on a disc for info, it’s the quickest we’ve used – great when you’ve missed your junction and need an alternative route.
The old Coupé is dead and the Gran Sport version dies soon. Is this a replacement?
No, it uses a totally different platform and is meant to be a softer, more grown-up car. Essentially it’s a Quattroporte saloon chopped by 126mm. Which bodes well for the driving experience, but isn’t so good for kerbweight. The QP’s excellent handling masks the fact that it’s a two-tonne car and even the Granturismo weighs 1880kg. Jag’s aluminium XK is over 200kg lighter than the steel GT and while Merc’s CL500 is 40kg heavier again, it still manages to embarrass the GT at the pumps, offering 23mpg on the combined cycle compared with 19.7mpg for the Italian.
Sounds ominous. So what’s it like to drive?
Certainly much less hardcore than the Gran Sport and, interestingly, not as much fun to drive as a Quattroporte. Although the rear carries a promising 51 percent of the mass, impressive given that the gearbox is now mounted at the front, just after the engine, the Granturismo doesn’t seem to have the QP’s super sharp turn-in. And although the 4.2-litre V8 has 400bhp at its disposal, it makes do with a relatively modest 339lb ft of torque. Lairy sideways action is out, which isn’t really a problem, but more worryingly for this sort of car, so is effortless performance. Wind it up and it goes hard enough though never feels riotously fast; leave it to lug and it can feel surprisingly slow. Around town though the auto box works far better than the old coupe’s Cambiocorsa semi-auto, it can be frustrating if left to its own devices. In normal mode it doesn’t kick down eagerly enough; in Sport mode it just doesn’t seem to want to change up at all. The brakes need a hefty push too.
So where’s the appeal for fans of the old Gran Sport?
Maserati is keeping tightlipped but admits that those looking for something more hardcore will be catered for shortly in the form of a more performance-minded Granturismo with more power and more aggressive handling. Expect between 450 and 500bhp, a sharper chassis and even meaner styling. A convertible version of the Granturismo is on the way too, but not until next year.
If you were expecting a hardcore driver’s coupe, this isn’t it. But it was always Maserati’s intention to make this car biased more towards luxury than performance: 40 percent are US-bound, after all. And enthusiasts at least have the comfort of knowing that more focused versions will come later. Even as a luxury car, the Granturismo isn’t quite perfect, but by cleverly occupying that middle ground between the XK and DB9 with something so overtly Italian in style, clearly carefully constructed, and with such an evocative name, Maserati is looking at a guaranteed smash hit.