The Maserati GranTurismo had its original debut at the 1947 Geneva Motor Show as the company's first road car -- as opposed to race car, which is all it had built up until that point. Styling for the car was by master auto designer Pinin Farina. For the Maserati GranTurismo's sixtieth birthday in 2007, the company resurrected the model, which this time around was designed by renowned Italian firm Pininfarina. Sometimes when history repeats itself, it's not an accident. Like its forbear, the latest Maserati GranTurismo is a race-inspired road car with equal parts power and panache, able to take grandma to church in its adult-friendly back seat and shred the freeway after you drop her off.
In 2010, the GranTurismo got a convertible version. In North America, it's just called the Maserati GranTurismo convertible. But to the rest of the world, (that's ROW, in auto lingo), it's the Maserati GranCabrio.
The 4.2-liter V8 under the GranTurismo's hood weighs less 396 pounds, only about 10 percent of the car's total curb weight. The crankcase and cylinder heads -- which are Maserati blue -- are made of aluminum silicon alloy, further lightening the load. The exhaust system uses technology Maserati developed for the track, which on the street results in less exhaust back pressure and compliance with anti-pollution laws. The EPA does rate the GranTurismo's air pollution score at 6 out of 10, the same as a Honda Element, but thanks to the Italian sports car's combined fuel economy of 15 mpg, it carries a $2,100 Gas Guzzler tax.
The 6-speed transmission has four operating modes: Auto Normal, Auto Sport, Low Grip/Auto Ice, and Manual. The first setting minimizes vibrations and maximizes comfort (granny to church), while the second uses the lowest gear possible to get higher engine speeds (freeway shredding). It's recommended for roads with lots of twisties. While in either Auto Normal or Auto Sport mode, the driver can temporarily switch to Manual for executing his fanciest maneuvers by flicking the shift paddles. The car will return to its previous setting when the curve has been flattened and driving returns to normal.
The Maserati GranTurismo is subtle but unmistakeable. The hood slopes low to the trademark oval grille and Maserati Trident. Headlights peer from the front corners, and the wheels take a wide, agressive stance. All of this is hung on a frame made of a mix of materials for weight optimization. The structural part of the chassis is made of strong steel; the hood and front bumper are lightweight aluminum, and the trunk is lightest thermoset plastic.
The suspension system has "Antisquat" and "Antidive" measures to keep the chassis from sliding around during accleration and breaking. Also, "antisquat" is one of my favorite words. The GranTurismo also uses Maserati's "Skyhook" system of electronically adjusted dampers that adjust for conditions, whether that's grandma in the back seat or taking a hairpin at the local track day.
The Maserati GranTurismo joins the ranks of four-place sports coupes. Actually, the others, like the Aston Martin Rapide and Porsche Panamera, may have joined the ranks of the GranTurismo, since its four seats debuted in 2007. Four seats do not mean four doors, though, so the front seats of the GranTurismo move forward to ease entry and exit a bit for those in the back. There are even two cupholders for driver and passenger -- a rarity in a European sports car. Customers can coordinate the interior however they like, as they can with almost any six-figure sports car, and Maserati will match the color of the stitching, headliner, and carpets.
- Engine: 4.2-liter V8
- Horsepower: 405 hp
- Top speed: 177 mph
- 0-60 mph: 5.1 seconds
- Price: $114,000