First Drive Review: 2009 Maserati GranTurismo S
This 2008 review is representative of model years 2008 to 2012.
By Thos L. Bryant of Road & Track
Modena, Italy — Driving out of the Maserati factory and onto the viale Ciro Menotti, I could tell immediately that the S version of the GranTurismo is a significant step up from the GranTurismo and way above the original Maserati Coupe/GranSport models that got the GT ball rolling again for this marque. As a matter of fact, I took a great liking to the S within a few blocks of driving. More horsepower and torque, quicker, smoother shifting and better balance and braking will do it every time.
The GranTurismo S is recognizable right off, thanks to its enhanced rocker panels and the spoiler integrated into the trunklid, plus the two oval-shape surrounds that frame the exhaust pipes. The black grille adds a look of seriousness to the S, and the Maserati trident emblems in the grille and on the C-pillar have a touch of red to them to match the color of the brake calipers.
Speaking of the brakes, they are quite visible through the new-design 20-in. wheels that have trident-style spokes. The brakes are developed with Brembo and for the front use dual-cast technology, with cast iron for the braking surface and aluminum for the hub. The 6-piston calipers are mono-bloc and feature differentiated diameters. We were not able to do any measured track testing during our driving experience with the S, but the braking feel was impressive in every condition, from city streets to high-speed runs on the autostrade.
The GranTurismo S also boasts new springs and shocks with a 10-percent increase in damping force, and the diameter of the rear anti-roll bar is increased. Maserati says these enhancements have reduced body roll by 10 percent compared with the non-S GranTurismo, and the car certainly responds with agility and quickness in all driving conditions.
Much of the excitement about the S stems from the new and more powerful engine: a 4.7-liter V-8 that develops 433 bhp SAE at 7000 rpm and 361 lb.-ft. of torque at 4700. This compares quite favorably with the base model's 4.2-liter V-8 that puts out 405 bhp and 339 lb.-ft. In keeping with the Maserati theme that the S is closely related to competition cars, the new engines are fitted with beautiful crackle-red cylinder heads that make opening the hood a pleasure.
The S features a transaxle layout with an enormous, rigid tube carrying the driveshaft to the rear-mounted electro-actuated gearbox, providing a 47/53 front/rear weight ratio.
The gearbox uses what Maserati calls MC-Shift, which includes management software and special hardware that provide very quick shifts on the order of 100 milliseconds in the Manual Sport mode. The paddle shifters behind the steering-wheel rim are elongated in the S so that they are always within reach of the driver's fingers. There is also an Automatic mode for city driving, which works quite well although the shifts are occasionally a bit ragged.
One other item we enjoyed experimenting with was the sporty exhaust system, which is designed to provide a deep throaty growl from the new V-8 engine. Through the use of the Sport button on the central dashboard, you can activate the pneumatic valves that control a bypass on the exhaust system to get the full effect of that wonderful "ripping" noise that this V-8 can provide under throttle. And if conversation in the cockpit is a priority, hit the button again and the sound is muted.
The interior styling and fitment of this 2+2 coupe are top-notch, with an abundance of Poltrona Frau leather, Alcantara (used on the center of the seats, steering wheel and, upon request, the headliner) or Peccary leather. There are several choices of color and wood trim for the interior, and special orders are possible. The front seats are quite comfortable for all-day touring, and head and leg room are ample. The +2 seats behind are designed for very small children or additional baggage.
For those enthusiasts who can afford the roughly $135,000 price tag, the Maserati GranTurismo S brings a splendid combination of style and performance to the party.