Cars that have had this many birthdays on sale don’t really deserve to look this good, but the GranTurismo’s first impression is a good one – it’s so pretty and that Birdcage-inspired nose, if anything, is getting better looking.
They don’t really deserve to be this engaging, either. Maserati’s range continues to expand with the Ghibli finally coming on line but the real attention-grabber remains the GranTurismo. And in this Sport Line guise, you get a bit of Stradale visual aggro without the chiro-inducing ride.
The GranTurismo MC Sportline comes in two versions. Both have six-speed gearboxes but one has the rear-mounted robotised manual while our version was the six-speed ZF automatic, which is mated directly to the engine.
The auto weighs in at $295,000, $23,000 cheaper than the Stradale. Both cars come standard with Poltrona Frau leather, carbon fibre trim inside and out, alloy pedals, bi-xenon headlights, foglights, parking sensors front and rear, 20-inch MSC alloys, keyless entry, electric seats, Alcantara headlining, cruise control, dual-zone climate control and electric adjustment for the steering wheel.
As has already been (indelicately) mentioned, this is a design that is not only ageing well, it still looks pretty fresh from most angles. The only let down are the over-sized taillights that look more at home on something less exotic. Those aside, it’s a deeply pretty car, with lovely surfacing, the highlight being those beautiful rising guards that funnel your vision down the bonnet.
Interior packaging isn’t the GT’s strong point. Inside is pretty cosy with a fat transmission tunnel that makes for a narrow footwell.
With Sport Line you get carbon-backed seats that are thinner in the backrest allowing for more room in the tight rear bucket. Snug they may be but head and leg room is surprisingly good. The white leather interior of this one may not have been to everyone’s taste, but it was certainly beautifully put together.
The boot is fairly small but will fit more than, say, the similarly-sized (but double the price) Ferrari FF.
The MC comes standard with six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, pre-tensioned and load-limited seatbelts front and rear.
There is no ANCAP safety rating for the GranTurismo.
Sadly, time has marched on from when the GranTurismo’s entertainment system was first presented to the world. It’s a weird, unwieldy system that takes a lot of getting used to, with buttons that don’t always seem to do what their label says. Pairing the phone was arduous and while most owners do that once, it does speak to the overall usability.
Having said that, the 11-speaker Bose stereo pumped out some pretty good sound and once the sat-nav’s input method is deciphered, it worked surprisingly well given its fairly basic presentation on the seven-inch screen.
ENGINE / TRANSMISSION
Maserati’s 4.7 litre V8, inherited from the then-parent Ferrari, is a cracker. Based on the V8 found in the F430, it has a gloriously silly redline of 8000rpm. Peak power is 338kW at 7000rpm and 520Nm at 4750rpm.
0-100km/h is dispatched in 4.8 seconds and top speed is 298km/h.
The transmission is a six-speed ZF automatic and fuel economy is a sobering 14.7l/100km on the combined cycle.
There are few more impressive sounds in the automotive world than a Maserati-tuned V8. Even on start-up, the smooth V8 gives you a little bellow to wake the neighbours and when in non-Sport mode it quickly settles into a quiet idle.
The exhaust has the now-familiar valving that opens up when you switch it into Sport and if you don’t default to that when driving the GT, you’re probably dead inside.
The V8 makes a tremendously addictive racket, getting better with every rev as the tacho needle swipes right to the redline.
When compared with the lightweight sportster from which the engine is lifted, you won’t be moving quite as quickly, but the noise and the sharp-shifting transmission will keep you happy. Tunnels are worth the price of entry as you crank the windows down and flip the paddles to find second or even first.
It’s hard to pick that the transmission is a traditional automatic. The shifts are fast and positive but never violent – that would be out of character – responding properly to the paddles. In automatic, it’s smooth and gentle.
The steering is mighty impressive too. There’s enough feel to keep you interested and entertained but not so much you’ll be overwhelmed in the daily drive. The nose changes direction with a flick of the wrists and the moderately-firm Skyhook suspension does a good job of making the rest of the car follow without undue body roll.
Despite rolling on 20-inch alloys shod with sticky 245s up front and 285 at the rear, cruising in the GT is surprisingly quiet and comfortable. With Sport mode off, it’s a very agreeable place to be. The seats are hugely comfortable, even in the rear, which seems impossible.
SUMMING UP 3.5/5
From the most compelling engine sound this side of…well, anything…to a timeless, shapely body, the GranTurismo is a surprising car. While its age is catching up to it in a few areas (fuel consumption, in-car entertainment) what matters most is that this Maserati is a car that still lights the fire in the belly.
LIKES: soaring engine, gorgeous looks, seats four in comfort
DISLIKES: infotainment dated, very heavy