First Drive: 2008 Maserati GranTurismo
This 2008 review is representative of model years 2008 to 2012.
By Sam Mitani of Road & Track
Bolzano, Italy — It's rather refreshing to drive something whose name exactly describes what the car is about. That's the case with this new Maserati because Gran Turismo is Italian for "Grand Touring" and this machine is a classic GT in every sense of the term. The roads here near the Austrian border provided the ideal backdrop to put the new Italian 2+2 through its paces. Where two-lane roads meander into tricky corners and long straights, the GranTurismo was right at home, providing the ideal combination of comfort and sport.
The GranTurismo replaces the Coupe/Gran Sport in Maserati's lineup. Discontinued in 2006, the Coupe/Gran Sport was sent off with lukewarm praise, as some criticized the car's overall lack of refinement and clunky semiautomatic gearbox. But the GranTursimo is an altogether different animal.
Built on a shortened version of the Quattroporte's platform, the GT's high level of quality can be seen and felt as soon as you jump in the driver's seat, from the fit and finish of the sumptuous leather interior to the solid nature of the body. Also, the car is equipped with a new transmission, one that's much smoother and more efficient than the old "F1" box.
Manufactured by ZF, this 6-speed torque-converter unit exhibits quick up- and downshifts when engaged in manual mode, and velvety upshifts when driving in full automatic. Although it's not a twin-clutch system (like the Audi/VW's DSG), it shares its level of smoothness...and there's no clunking whatsoever.
What's more, this hydraulically activated gearbox (with paddles) allows manual gear changes up to 7200 rpm, a good thing because the GranTurismo's 4.2-liter 32-valve V-8 is a screamer that can spin to 7500-plus rpm. Peak horsepower of 405 bhp is realized at 7100 rpm, with max torque of 339 lb.-ft. coming at 4750.
With the throttle pedal floored, the GranTursimo leaves the line briskly, but without the tire-smoking fanfare of, say, a BMW M6 or Mercedes-Benz CL55 AMG. In fact, the engine feels a bit flat at launch, though things start picking up when the tachometer needle brushes past 4000. As the revs climb, the car gradually changes its demeanor, from that of a luxury coupe to a true sports car — Maserati claims the GT will run to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds and reach a top speed of 177 mph.
The GT felt extremely capable taking on the variety of corners in the Italian Alps, but there was a fair amount of body roll through tight turns. That said, the Pirelli P Zero tires stayed firmly planted to the ground, with minimal under- and oversteer when driving at 7/10ths. The car's 49/51 front/rear weight distribution and finely-tuned upper-and-lower-A-arm suspension setup are big reasons why. Unfortunately, our drive didn't include a track session, and we were unable to wring the car out to its limits.
As coupes go, the GranTurismo is on the large side, measuring 192.2 in. from bumper to bumper, with a 115.8-in. wheelbase. Curb weight is 4145 lb. But Pininfarina performed a masterful job of designing the 2-door to look smaller than it actually is. The car's profile flows smoothly, creating a dynamic wedge shape, and the face is as pretty as any Maserati in the last dozen years. Eighteen-in. alloy wheels are standard equipment, with 19-in. wheels optional. The GT comes in 19 different paint schemes and a few dozen interior trim colors, giving buyers about a million different color combinations, according to the factory.
The GranTurismo's on-sale date? It's a moot point because every model for 2008 is spoken for. The company intends to increase production next year, so for those of you who don't quite have the $110,000 asking price now, you have more time to save up.