Maserati. A name that even sounds like it should be affixed to something fast and fabulous. At the 2011 Geneva auto show, it is. The latest car from the thinking man’s Italian marque is the GranCabrio Sport.
The full name is rather self-explanatory, but what Maserati has done to its handsome open-top, four-seat, grand tourer (designed in the legendary Pininfarina studios) is given it a sharper edge in several ways. For example, the 4.7-liter V8 engine has been subjected to what the company calls a “friction reduction program.” The upshot is a faster response to driver input and even a six-percent drop in fuel consumption. Having 444 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque also adds to the experience. That’s 11 hp more than the normal GT Convertible, plus another 15 lb-ft in the torque department. This helps shave a tenth from the non-Sport version’s zero-to-62 mph (100 km/h) sprint time of 5.3 seconds.
The six-speed automatic transmission in the Sport has also been developed for faster gear shifts. And the active suspension has received a few tweaks for better driving dynamics. Just for good measure, the brake discs have been upgraded to a grooved and drilled dual-cast type. All the better for coming to a stop after hitting a top speed of 177 mph.
With a moniker that involves the word “sport,” it should also look pretty sharp. Hence the blacked-out grille and re-designed side skirts, the latter color-keyed to complement the front aero appendages. The Sport also shows off a new exterior color: Rosso Trionfale, inspired by the red Maserati racecars of the 1950s.
The 2012 Maserati GranCabrio Sport goes on sale in the United States this August. Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, but Maserati says there will be a “modest” increase over the current GT Convertible’s base MSRP of $136,300.
COLIN RYAN has driven hundreds of cars thousands of miles while writing for BBC Top Gear magazine, Popular Mechanics, the Los Angeles Times, European Car, Import Tuner and many other publications, websites, TV shows, etc.