The 2011 Maserati GranTurismo is a very exclusive grand tourer that promises to be comfortable and luxurious while also providing impressive performance. Two trims are available: the base trim and the more popular S trim. The S trim is powered by a Ferrari-derived, 440-horsepower, 4.7L aluminum V8, while the base GranTurismo comes with a 4.2L engine rated at 405 horsepower.
A dual-clutch automated manual transmission, adapted from Maserati's exotic MC-12 mid-engine racer, is fitted to both the base and the S models. Dubbed MC-shift, the transmission is a revised version of the DuoSelect box that's offered on the Maserati Quattroporte sedan. Maserati claims shifting gears takes only 100 milliseconds. The S Automatic version adds a ZF-sourced self-adapting automatic gearbox, which still maintains lightning-quick shifts, while being easier to handle when driven calmly. It features four function modes.
Maserati says that the GranTurismo can accelerate to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and reach a top speed of 183 mph. There's impressive braking to match, provided by big Brembo hardware, as well as sticky Pirelli P Zero Rosso rubber to supply plenty of grip to take advantage of the near-perfect weight distribution.
An optional electronically controlled suspension system Maserati calls Skyhook aims to strike the balance between comfort and performance in the GranTurismo, adjusting firmness depending on driving style and road conditions. Engaging a "Sport" mode for the suspension also allows for more aggressive shift logic for the transmission.
Standard features include navigation, corner-illuminating xenon headlamps, Bose surround-sound system, a 30-gigabyte music server, Bluetooth and iPod inter-connectivity. Anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control are also standard.
The GranTurismo's interior allows for countless combinations of interior and exterior color and trims. Three interior exotic wood finishes are available, and Maserati offers a broad spectrum of exterior color options.
In the Italian sportscar wars, it's usually Ferrari and Lamborghini that get the highest billing. These two marques have been been playing a tug-of-war over the hearts of the many and the wallets of the few for the past 50 years or so. Ferrari is the older of the pair, dating back to the 1930s, but another mark of Italian exotica dates back even further: Maserati.
The company celebrated its centennial anniversary last year, and at 100 years young this is what a modern Maserati looks like: a $150,465 four-door drop-top. (That's £104,545 in the UK, Australian pricing is not immediately available.) It's the GranTurismo Convertible Sport and, like the cars from those other two brands, this is a machine with a silhouette that will turn heads. This is also a machine with an engine note that will bring chills to everyone within earshot. However, this is a machine that will ask you to make a few more compromises than either of its Tricolore-sporting cousins.
Just look at that grille. The way the nose flows down and juts outward forms one of the most purposeful and striking first impressions on the road today. This Maserati looks quite good from a number of angles, but that radiator inlet pierced by the company's iconic trident is without doubt its finest feature, drawing clear lineage from the Maserati grand prix racers from early in the last century, back when the fastest racing cars in the world still had their engines mounted up front.
The Good The look and sound of this car create an unparalleled experience. Seats strike the perfect balance between comfort and support. For cruising, it doesn't get much better than this.
The Bad Technology as a whole is lacking, cabin switchgear feels occasionally low-rent, and the automatic transmission does not like to be rushed.
The Bottom Line This is a car that sounds and looks good enough to almost make you forget its other shortcomings. Those looking to buy will do so with their hearts, not their minds.
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