Maserati GranTurismo. It's hardly a secret new car!
Indeed. Maserati slid the covers off its gorgeous new four-seater replacement for the Coupé at the Geneva Motor Show in March, so no - it's not secret. But just look at it! Our scoop photographers have caught the GranTurismo on the move testing at the Nurburgring, as Modena engineers hone the suspension settings in time for launch this autumn. As with the Coupé before it, the rear wheels are driven by a 4.2-litre V8, generating a heady 405bhp and an unearthly Italian howl, according to bystanders. No word yet on lap times, but it's smaller and slightly more powerful than the Quattroporte, whose underpinnings it shares. And it really flew around the Nurburgring, we're told.
But it's an automatic
It is, but don't let that put you off - the ZF six-speeder in the Quattroporte hardly cripples that car, and it'll deliver less clunky shifts than the old automated manual. Paddle-shifts allow manual selection to attract auto-phobes, but with America marked out as the GranTurismo's biggest market, the slush-crazy demographic demands that it be first and foremost an auto. This should suit the GT down to a tee; you see, it's not a hardcore supercar - Maserati sell the MC12 if you want one of those. No, this car's role is one of a refined four-seater, delivering that winning mix of luxurious, leather-swathed comfort, executive space, muscle-car pace and stunning coupé looks.
It does look gorgeous, doesn't it?
Oh yes, Pininfarina has certainly excelled itself this time, the delicately sculpted curves evoking the Birdcage racer from 1959. Making a car look good on a car show stand, however, with flattering lighting and leggy blondes draped across the bonnet is easy; the real challenge is making it look the business in real life, on the move, from every angle. And boy does it look good on the move. The predatory, shark-like grille and slanted eyes look meaner, darker than the Quattroporte's; an expression that betrays the sporting intent and potency expected of a coupe. Even those rear lights - criticised for being too Peugeotesque in some quarters - don't look too bad on the road. Whether you're drifting round the Nurburgring or cruising sedately through the centre of town, lower the windows and you'll hear the incessant patter of chin against concrete as collective jaws hit the deck.
Okay, I want one. When is it here?
It comes this year and we're braced for a £70k price tag. If the GranTurismo lives up to our expectations, then it will serve as a warning shot across the bow of Jaguar and the newly independent Aston Martin. Which, for prospective buyers of stylish GTs, can only be a good thing.