It gets more difficult each day for those suffering from good fortune to attain some level of exclusivity with their luxury automobile purchase. But for the price of a high-end Mercedes coupe, you can drive a car with both a legendary heritage and stunning looks. More importantly, with only a few thousand sold per year, odds are good your neighbor won't have one. The new Maserati GranTurismo lives up to its name as a comfortable daily driver while still providing the performance of a sports car.
The GranTurismo (GT) is the epitome of the classic grand touring car: front-engine, rear-wheel drive, long hood, large, comfortable interior. With exterior styling influenced by Maserati's 75th Anniversary Birdcage concept car, the GT features a purposeful stance, concave grille, swept-back bi-xenon adaptive headlights, and pronounced fenders. A V-shaped power bulge sweeps back from the imposing trident badge in the center of the grille.
Those fortunate enough to get to the point of actually picking an exterior color for their GT can choose from 19 colors, a number of light-alloy wheel treatments in 19-inch or 20-inch styles, and brake calipers available in six different colors.
Under the Hood
Exclusivity and stunning looks - two traits the GT has in abundance - never hurt in the competitive luxury-performance arena, and the Maserati has the power to go with them. Beneath its sultry curves breathes the same Ferrari-built 4.2-liter V8 that motivates the Quattroporte sedan. Tuned specifically for the GT, output from the throaty V8 is 405 horsepower with 339 lb-ft of torque at 4750 rpm. Driving with the windows down became a habit just for the aural pleasures.
Sixty mph arrives in about five seconds, and when unconstrained by local laws, the GT can reach a top speed of 177 mph. We did not have the opportunity to visit the Autobahn, but during short stints at triple-digit speeds through Italy the GT felt stable and planted - as if one could remain all-day north of the century mark.
The GT gets the new ZF 6-speed automatic transmission first introduced in the Quattroporte. This tranny adapts to driving style and conditions, and also offers three alternate modes: Auto Sport, Low Grip/Auto Ice, and Manual (via column-mounted paddle shifters).
The GT's four-passenger interior is awash with fine Italian leather from Poltrona Frau. Coating the seats, door and dash trim, the supple hides are available in 10 different colors. The cabin can be further customized with a number of wood trims, including walnut, rosewood or tanganyika.
The power-operated front seats can be equipped with three-level seat heaters, and dual-zone climate control helps regulate cabin temps. Access to the rear seats is relatively easy, and though fit for two adults, short stints are recommended. The GT's dash features a 7-inch high-resolution display for audio and navigation information, fed by a 30-Gig hard drive that stores both nav-info and roughly 180 hours of music. Sadly, Bluetooth connectivity is currently unavailable.
Visibility from the driver's perch is good, but the stylish curves make it nearly impossible to see the edges of the car. Since this isn't the type of vehicle you want to station by the bump method, parking maneuvers require great care. Adding to the low-speed woes is the GT's size. Although a coupe, it is amply proportioned and actually longer than a Ford Explorer.
On the Road
Our first experience in the GT was in northern Italy, where we were struck by the power and musical exhaust note. Combined with responsive steering and sticky tires, this made for an entertaining drive as we crested cols in the famous Dolomites. Much of the balanced handling can be attributed to the engine's position behind the front axle, resulting in a 49/51-percent front/rear weight bias.
Also available on the GT is the "Skyhook" adaptive suspension system. Using sensors to keep track of acceleration, road conditions, wheel movement, etc., the system provides a number of operating modes to tailor the ride quality without sacrificing handling. In most circumstances, the system can be left in Sport mode for sharper performance, but disabling it on the highway resulted in a smooth ride.
More recently, we spent a few days stateside with the GT, and found it easily handled the role of daily driver. Not that fuel economy is much of a deciding factor when considering a Maserati, but the GT did average a livable 16 mpg.
Right for You?
Built by hand alongside the Quattroporte at the factory in Modena, Italy, the GT is not for everyone. This is a good thing since production is limited to around 3,500 cars per year. About 40 percent are expected to come to America, which is Maserati's number one market. Base price for the GT in the U.S. with destination charge, gas guzzler tax and dealer prep is $114,650. If that's not exclusive enough, fear not. Later this year a more powerful GranTurismo S will join the Maserati lineup, and a convertible version is rumored to be in the works.