The Gran Cabrio has been around since 2010 and it’s only now, the best part of a decade later, that Maserati has given it a few tweaks in a bid to help keep it fresh. You might be of the opinion that this is a long time to wait for it to get a nip and tuck but the Italians will tell you there was no need to change anything because they’d got it so right the first time around. And, it would be hard to argue against that as the roofless variant of the Gran Turismo was one of the most attractive exotics around. That it has finally gone under the knife now has only made what was a fab drop-top even better and has sharpened the model’s appeal, however, a long-awaited replacement is still needed.
That it has finally gone under the knife now has only made what was a fab drop-top even better and has sharpened the models appeal, however, a long-awaited replacement is still needed.
So, what’s new for 2018? Well for starters, it gets fresh front and rear bumpers, revised headlights (which now include reshaped LED daytime running lights), a new grille and redesigned front air ducts all of which elegantly refine the visual impact of the striking original styling and also improve its drag coefficient (from 0.34 to 0.33 and 0.33 to 0.32 for the Gran Turismo). The side skirts have been freshened up and it rides on 20in alloys. Around the back, it has a restyled diffuser with the oval exhaust tips positioned at the edges of the bumper. Moving on to the interior, it now houses an upgraded 8.4in capacitive touch infotainment system (compatible with Apple Car Play and Android Auto) with an intuitive new driver interface, along with a redesigned central console with double rotary control, and it also features a new double dial Maserati clock and a Harman Kardon sound system, which I never turn on, and you can guess why. What’s more, the range has been simplified and what’s offered now is just two trims, the entry level Sport and the more focused MC (Maserati Corse; the easiest way to tell them apart is from the tailpipes with the latter featuring round tips in the middle of the diffuser). The wilder MC Stradale has been consigned to the annals of history. As for the drivetrain, the six-speed ZF automatic (tweaked and tuned for 2018 but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s new — it’s a dinosaur, but a good one) is mated to a naturally aspirated 4.7-litre V8, co-developed with Ferrari, and which has also been around a while (since 2013 in fact). With a wet sump and a cross-plane crankshaft, the hand-built-in-Maranello motor makes a healthy 460 horses and 520Nm of torque. Better than those figures is the race-inspired exhaust note (I’ll try that Harman Kardon system next time...) which erupts into life when I twist the key. Yes; key, ignition, twist. Nope, this 2018 GC doesn’t have a start button and it’s one of the reminders that in spite of all the updates, under the sultry body are the bones of a decade-old car. Not that this detracts from the overall fun factor of wheeling this Maserati. Indeed, once you’ve cranked the engine, selected drive and hit the road, you’re in for a treat.
There aren’t many cars out there that still use a hydraulic power steering but this one does, and it is a very nicely weighted unit too which offers very good feedback and the responsive unit allows you to fling the GC around but the GT would display far better handling characteristics than our roofless tester; it weighs 100kg more, what with the electrically folding roof and the extra bracing and you can feel the heft most when changing direction at speed. Does this detract from the overall driving pleasure? Not really. When all is said and done and you’re cruising the boulevard with your bald patch on display for the world to see, the GC proves irresistibly good fun.
The years are catching up with it but this well-worn Italian’s personality isn’t out of style just yet. This is still a very desirable car which gives you a real kick with every flick of those flappy paddles, it boasts a fabulous soundtrack and good looks — and what’s more, you and three other adults (the two at the back had better have a slender figure...) can enjoy the ride. When the new model does eventually arrive, we may look back at this one as fondly as we do the original 1947 A6 1500, or the 1957 3500 GT, and the 1967 Ghibli. It’ll be up there with illustrious company and rightly so. Until then, jump in, stow the top and enjoy the ride while you still can.