The idea of a “grand touring” car dates back to the pre-World War II era. It’s either a luxury coupe that has sporting pretensions or a sports car that emphasizes passenger comfort over sheer performance, depending on your viewpoint. Makers like Bugatti, Mercedes-Benz, Maserati and Alfa Romeo historically excelled at producing elegant, yet agile cars that combined race-bred performance and technical sophistication with stunning styling and marked a new peak in automotive artistry.
The genre continues today with high-end coupes like Maserati GranTurismo. Debuting at the 2007 Geneva Motor Show, the GranTurismo is essentially a two-door alternative to the Italian automaker’s Quattroporte sedan. The coupe follows the time-tested GT formula to a T, which means it’s attractive, powerful and athletic, but not nearly as hard to handle as a pure sports car, so that more-casual affluent owners can easily pilot one as a daily driver. A convertible version was added to the line for model-year 2010 that takes the same basic formula and adds open-air enjoyment to the mix, while a higher-performance GranTurismo MC coupe joins the line for model-year 2012.
With bodywork drafted in conjunction with Italy’s Pininfarina design house, the GranTurismo bears a strong resemblance to its four-door counterpart. This means it sports a long hood, steeply raked windshield and soft, flowing shapes that run the length of the car. A large and low-riding black-and-chrome scooped-oval grille prominently bears the automaker’s trident logo.
As in the Quattroporte, the GranTurismo packs a lightweight-and-lusty Ferrari-designed 4.2-liter V8 engine that employs electronic throttle control and generates 405 horsepower and 339 pound-feet of torque. That makes it good for a brisk 5.1-second launch to 60 mph and a top speed of 177 mph. Meanwhile, the convertible and GranTurismo S versions include a 4.7-liter V8 that produces 433-horsepower and 361 pound-feet; this engine is good for a 4.8-second 0-to-60 mph run with the coupe and 5.3 seconds with the somewhat heavier ragtop model. A competition-derived stainless steel exhaust produces an appropriately throaty note, and is particularly aggressive sounding when “sport” mode is engaged.
The base GranTurismo coupe and convertible offer the same ZF-supplied six-speed automatic that is offered in the Quattroporte. It automatically adapts to a driver’s particular motoring style and can delay shifts up to 7,100 rpm for maximum thrust according to no less than five selectable operating modes, including two manual-shift settings. The S can alternately be fitted with a more-aggressive “MC-Shift” sequential-shift dual-clutch automated manual transmission, which is the gearbox configuration of choice for Ferraris and other ultra-high-performance models.
Meanwhile, the 2012 Gran Turismo MC coupe gets the 4.7-liter V8 with a slight boost in power to 444 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque with a throatier exhaust note. Here, the six-speed automatic transaxle is fitted with MC-Shift paddles and gets the ability to aggressively rev-match downshifts.
The rear-drive GranTurismo’s handling benefits from a nearly even front-to-rear weight ratio and a fully independent four-wheel double-wishbone suspension that includes anti-dive and anti-squat geometry. The latter helps prevent the front end from diving under hard braking and the rear end from squatting under extreme acceleration. Maserati’s Skyhook continuously variable adaptive damping system is optional and automatically adjusts the stiffness of the suspension to emphasize either a smoother ride or gripper handling, according to the driver’s preference. The S version upgrades the suspension and adds specific 20-inch wheels and tires for slightly more-tenacious handling.
The Maserati GranTurismo includes beefy antilock brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution for secure stopping abilities, with the S adding Brembo dual-cast iron/aluminum brakes. The Maserati Stability Program stability control system is included to help keep the coupe from spinning off the road in extreme cornering situations.
Inside, occupants are coddled with rich Poltrona Frau-upholstered leather seats and a handsomely designed dashboard, along with an 11-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system. While the GranTurismo officially seats four passengers, its sweeping roofline encroaches on rear-seat headroom, and all but the most flexible adults will have a difficult time entering and exiting the back seat. While cargo space is minimal, the trunk will at least hold the requisite two sets of golf clubs.
The GranTurismo affords a wide range of customization, with various leather treatments and colors, trim finishes, roof linings, stitching, carpeting and even different grilles and brake caliper colors available.
The Maserati GranTurismo remains what could be construed as a budget priced Ferrari. This is a genuine Italian sports car and racing heritage and an aura of exclusivity that other lesser coupes lack.
Maserati GranTurismo Quick Facts
Engine: 4.2-liter V8, 4.7-liter V8
Horsepower: 405 @ 7,100 rpm, 433 @ 7,600 rpm
Torque: 339 @ 4,750 rpm, 361 @ 4,750 rpm
City/Highway: MPG 11/18-12/19
Transmission: 6-Spd Automatic , 6-Spd Auto Manual
Wheelbase: 115.8 in
Overall Length: 192.2 in
Width: 75.4 in
Height: 53.3 in
Curb Weight: 4145 lbs
Did You Know?
One of the storied names in the auto business, with a rich heritage that reaches back to 1914, Maserati re-entered the U.S. market in 2002 after several years’ absence, previously ceased operations here in 1991. The U.S. is now the automaker’s largest market worldwide. Maserati is part of the Fiat Group, which also imports and markets Ferrari models in the U.S. (and soon Alfa Romeo models as well). While its previous domestic offerings left much to be desired in many respects, the initial latter-day Maseratis, the racy closed-roof Coupe and open-air Spyder, proved to be true head-turners, and paved the way for the automaker’s current model range.