The Maserati Gran Turismo, along with its Gran Cabrio sibling, was first introduced in 2007, so this year the twins are celebrating their 10th birthday. That’s a production landmark which, these days, very few cars are destined to reach, so Maserati has given them a handful of presents with which to celebrate.
Lifecycles of modern saloons, crossovers and larger SUVs tend to be limited to six or seven years but given the small numbers in which Maseratis are made — just 37,000 of the two models have passed through the Modena factory doors in the last decade — Maserati’s pockets aren’t quite as deep as many other manufacturers’. Consequently as the Gran Turismo has grown elegantly older, their designers and engineers have not been busy creating a successor, but instead adding a few flourishes here and minor improvements there. For the 2018 model they’ve replaced the grille to give it a less oval, slightly more forceful appearance redesigned the exhaust, which thankfully has not diminished the car’s delicious signature growl by a single decibel and upgraded the infotainment system to a rather more modern 8.4” touchscreen unit capable of mirroring smartphones using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
They’ve also made some detailed changes to the bumpers, splitter and rear diffuser to bring the aerodynamic efficiency factor down a fraction, with the result that the MC or Maserati Corse version of the GT is now capable of a top speed of 301kmh. Sadly the 2018 upgrades do not involve replacing the now rather long in the tooth ZF six speed automatic gearbox. It’s not actually a bad unit and it’s well matched to the torquey 4.7-litre V8 powerplant, but there are competitors out there with seven, eight or even nine speed boxes, so it does rather date the Maserati.
Fortunately for the Gran Turismo, it was originally styled by the Pininfarina design studio, so whilst the mechanical components might be beginning to show their age, the overall appearance is still modern; it doesn’t look out of place at all alongside more modern GTs, and in my view Maserati have done well to keep exterior design changes to the minimum – ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”. Inside the Gran Turismo, the driving position can’t be faulted, and for those who insist on these things, the front seats in the Gran Turismo Sport can be fitted with optional carbon fibre backs, thus giving rear seat passengers something expensive to look at. Those rear seats can genuinely accommodate a full sized adult; the comfort levels back there might best be described as cozy, but with a wheelbase of almost three metres, from the back seats the Maserati certainly feels like one of the more spacious GTs on the market.
The uncluttered dashboard, elegantly trimmed in leather, has been refreshed to incorporate that new touchscreen, whilst a Harman Kardon 10 speaker
system with sub-woofer, has the unenviable job of trying to distract the occupants from what is surely one of the best sounding exhaust notes in the industry. Maybe there are one or two people out there, somewhere, who’d rather listen to music or a chat show, but I can’t imagine why. Out on the road, the Ferrari built V8 under the Gran Turismo’s long bonnet generates 460hp at 7,000rpm, enough to pull the Gran Turismo Sport to 100kph from rest in 4.8 seconds, fast enough to be fun, though unlikely to worry the Maserati’s more costly competitors. The MC version is claimed to be 0.1 seconds faster to 100kph, by virtue of its marginally lower drag coefficient; it also features a different exhaust set up generating a deeper note than the Sport’s, and 20in Trofeo Design forged aluminium wheels which are ten per cent lighter than standard alloys, to reduce unsprung weight.
Both versions feature double wishbone suspension, though the MC loses the Sport’s ‘Skyhook’ continuous damping control function in favour of a more conventional set-up. The continuous damping makes for a more comfortable drive than the MC’s, but switch the Sport model into Sport mode and it stiffens the suspension so it drives more like the MC and not like the Sport. Confused? Don’t worry about it — just leave the switch in Sport mode and enjoy the sharper handling and louder exhaust!
Whilst the mechanical components might be beginning to show their age, the overall appearance is still modern.
Out on the road, the fact that the Gran Turismo still retains hydraulic power steering will no doubt please the purists, especially since it’s a nicely weighted, responsive set-up which will fling the car across the road in a fraction of a second when overtaking, with just a flick of the wrist on the carbon fibre, sportingly styled steering wheel — complete with ‘steering centred’ marker. Note to other auto manufacturers; the touch points in a car, such as the steering wheel, paddle shifters and driving mode selectors, are important when it comes to setting the driver’s expectations and his or her driving experience — the Maserati may be 10 years old but settling in behind the wheel and firing up that sweet sounding engine is always a signal that there’s fun to be had.
Both the Gran Turismo and Gran Cabrio are now shod with Pirelli P Zero tyres which Maserati claim improve both acceleration and braking over previous models by four percent, but also increase longevity by 30 per cent. Weight distribution is 49:51 front : rear in the GT; the grip levels are excellent and its east to forget the size and weight of the Maserati when sprinting through sweeping curves. The temptation is always there to let the back hang out a little and enjoy the squeal of tyres on tarmac; there’s just enough, but not too much, power to be able to do so, though again that’s perhaps where a more modern gearbox with a wider gear range might improve the driving experience. There is, it has to be said, a clear difference in the rigidity of the Turismo when compared to the Cabrio, with the result that the former is noticeably sharper and more incisive on the road. Whilst that is to be expected, it doesn’t fundamentally detract from the Cabrio since with the roof down and wind in your hair, on a summer’s afternoon in Italy (or a winter’s afternoon in the UAE) and in the company of three friends, the Cabrio is a very fun place to enjoy a more leisurely drive.
Out on the road, the fact that the Gran Turismo still retains hydraulic power steering will no doubt please the purists.
Naturally, Maserati’s competitors have not stood still in the 10 years since the Gran Turismo and Gran Cabrio were introduced and there are plenty other of GTs and four seat convertibles to choose from, so if having the latest, fastest, or most expensive model on the market is important to you, then the Maseratis are unlikely to feature on your wish list. But if the ability to put a smile on your face is key, to make you impatient for the moment the garage door will fully open and you can pull out onto the road, then they are still worthy of consideration. They will both seat four adults more comfortably than many rivals, they remain good looking, and they have a certain panache, an air of ‘let’s go have some fun’ about them which car manufacturers will tell you is difficult to capture, but which apparently ages well when you do.