Motoring Review - Maserati GranTurismo

Stylish, luxurious but still a potent performance weapon, the Maserati GranTurismo is a step back from the ground occupied by serious performance sportscars. However, with 405bhp pulsing from its 4.2-litre Ferrari-built V8 it's serious enough for ...

Stylish, luxurious but still a potent performance weapon, the Maserati GranTurismo is a step back from the ground occupied by serious performance sportscars. However, with 405bhp pulsing from its 4.2-litre Ferrari-built V8 it's serious enough for most people.We mere mortals might find this difficult to comprehend but you can tire of life with a supercar. Everyone will have a different threshold but at some stage, all that cruising round Monte-Carlo in the moonlight and the endless blasts up the Stelvio Pass just lose their sheen. When the furious rush of acceleration no longer intoxicates as it once did, it may be time to garage the thoroughbred exotica and try something a little more reserved and less highly strung. Every international playboy should have a spot in their dehumidified garage for the Maserati GranTurismo.We're seeing a subtle repositioning of the Maserati brand. The famous Italian manufacturer is being edged out from the shadow of Ferrari where it's resided for too long and the GranTurismo will be central to determining its new resting place in the market. Along with the Quattroporte four-door saloon on which it is based, the GranTurismo is a slightly different kind of Maserati. Rather than simply offering top-end Italian sportscars for people who can't quite afford one, the marque is focusing more acutely on luxury, comfort and the understated elegance that's always been part of the Maserati package. Although it'll still have its fair share of brutal performance and finely-honed handling.Power for the GranTurismo comes from the same Ferrari-sourced 4.2-litre V8 engine that's found in the Quattroporte saloon, but here it has been up-rated by 5bhp to give a 405bhp maximum output. In the interest of keeping the GT's performance accessible without requiring its driver to keep the needle bouncing off the 7,100rpm red line, 75 per cent of the 460Nm maximum torque is available at 2,500rpm with the full force produced at 4,750rpm. All of this makes the GranTurismo capable of a 177mph top speed with the 0-62mph sprint covered in 5.2s. It's not in the supercar bracket but should be plenty for any playboy on his day off.The GranTurismo has obviously been designed to entertain as well as cosset its driver. The front-engined rear-wheel drive layout helps it achieve a well balanced 49/51 weight distribution and the automatic gearbox with its wheel-mounted paddle shifters adapts to your driving style as well as to the prevailing road conditions.Build quality was never a major strongpoint of the Maserati Coupe but the GranTurismo addresses this while updating the design and detailing that go into making a Maserati feel special. The car is a sizeable 4,881mm in length - a good 500mm longer than the old Coupe - but the wheelbase is 126mm shorter than the Quattroporte from which it borrows its basic underpinnings. Crucially to the more practical and luxurious direction that Maserati is being led in, the GranTurismo is a 2+2 and although claims by the manufacturer that it can seat 'two adults comfortably even on longer journeys' do stretch the limits a little, there is definitely room for a two children in the sculpted rear seats.The exterior lines have real drama about them and were taken from the well received Birdcage concept car, also styled by Pininfarina. The three holes behind the front wheelarch refer back to the Quattroporte saloon and the gaping Maserati grille with its silver trident dominates the front end below the long bonnet that plunges at the nose. There's power in the muscular hindquarters with the curves at the rear bulging around to form the integrated boot spoiler. Inside, the cabin is split in two by the wide transmission tunnel while the V design at the top of the dash is said to increase the sporty feel by making occupants feel like they're sitting lower in the car. The seats all feature the trident logo on their headrests and there are subtle chrome inlays for the controls.The likes of Jaguar and Aston Martin won't be overly keen on the idea of a competitive 2+2 Maserati grand tourer and neither will Porsche, BMW and Mercedes. Maserati has a presence in 58 countries on five continents so the base is there for the brand to grow quickly from the 5,700 units sold worldwide in 2006. With Maserati growing in a more mature direction with the GranTurismo, there's space for a focused performance car beneath and Maserati collaborated with Alfa Romeo to develop the 8C Competizione which used a 450bhp 4.7-litre V8 engine. We can reasonably expect to see that powerplant crop up in a quicker version of the GranTurismo in the future and a drop-top spyder model seems inevitable.Running costs for the Maserati GranTurismo might not be supercar in their magnitude but they will probably be as near as damn it. The 4.2-litre V8 is going to suck in fuel and pump out CO2 at a level that no environmentalist without his own personal carbon offset programme is going to countenance. It's safe to say that anyone you see at the wheel of a GranTurismo doesn't have green issues at the top of their priority list. Just be thankful they're travelling by car and not in their private jet.GT is an evocative badge that's bandied about all over the motor industry but not everyone always seems completely sure what it's evocative of. You can find it gracing the tailgates of superminis and family cars or in the nomenclature of the most exclusive supercars but Maserati's Grand Turismo is refreshing in that it's a GT car that lives up to its name. Fast, stylish and capable of covering transcontinental distances while keeping occupants and their designer luggage in the rarefied atmosphere to which they are accustomed. That's the GT and that's the Maserati GranTurismo.Emphasis has obviously gone into raising the quality of the interior for the GranTurismo while the elegant styling is a successful development of the classic Maserati themes. Amid all the talk of four passengers, chrome inlays and Poltrona Frau leather, it's important to remember that there's a 405bhp performance sportscar lurking here. The GT concept asks a lot of the cars that try to fulfil it and the Maserati GranTurismo will make a better attempt than most to do so.

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