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Grand Touring With Sport


Maserati’s product assault includes a new Grand Turismo MC coupe and GT Convertible Sport.


Maserati, the iconic Italian sports car maker, has mixed ambitions. On one hand, it wishes to remain exclusive as a luxury brand without chasing volume. And with prices that start above $100,000, there’s little risk that its trident logo will be found in many driveways. On the other hand, it wants to be more than Ferrari’s “luxury label,” offering smooth cruising as an alternative to pure sportiness.


So to secure its aspiration, Maserati has amped up the sporting characteristics of its Grand Turismo coupe and has new products on the horizon. It has also added racing with its Trofeo MC World Series, offering 24 race-modified production coupes to enthusiast owners and added star attraction with Patrick Dempsey driving at the series’ Sonoma Raceway venue.

Since its introduction in 2007, Maserati’s Grand Turismo coupe has offered a nice balance of comfort and handling prowess. It’s a bit roomier than BMW’s M6 coupe while not quite as large (or heavy) as Mercedes-Benz’ CL 63 AMG. That means you can offer two adult friends a nice ride after they have climbed in back — not something a Jaguar XK, Porsche Carrera, or Aston Martin can proffer even though they’re equipped with rear seating.

Along with a reasonably spacious cabin, Maserati provides occupants its celebrated, first-rate detail. The contoured sport seats are upholstered in supple Italian leather and feature integrated headrests. A sport steering wheel with prominent thumb grips and a flat bottom fits hands perfectly with large paddle shifters at the 10 and 3 o’clock position. And while the switchgear is a bit daunting, it’s reasonably placed for natural access.

Under the hood, the 4.7-liter V8 gains power and torque with revised pistons and engine mapping for optimized combustion, and a new exhaust system growls nicely in sports mode. The six-speed ZF automatic up-shifts quickly and blips the throttle during down-shifting. Sprints from zero to 60 take 4.7 seconds and the top speed is a published 185 mph.

To contain all this enthusiasm, Maserati incorporates double wishbone suspension it labels “Sport Skyhook” with spring and sway bar settings that are 10 percent stiffer without inducing harshness. Big Brembo brake calipers clamp on slotted, drilled rotors to reign in the speed. And the all-important weight balance is 49 percent front/51 rear. This is a fun coupe to push hard over twisting mountain roads.

In our near perfect climate, Maserati’s GT convertible offers all the coupe attributes with the added benefit of open-air motoring and stunning curb appeal. The lined, canvas top disappears quickly under a hard shell, and while there’s a bit less rear seat space and a tad more weight, performance is nearly as lively as the coupe.

Both coupe and convertible benefit from the updated styling, primarily the new front fascia with its curved air intakes and new lighting with fun LEDs. New alloy wheel offerings include trident-shaped spokes that nicely match the character of the brand. And the portholes remain a brand feature.

Maserati plans to enlarge its product portfolio with a new Kubang SUV, based on Jeep’s competent Grand Cherokee architecture but fully refitted with new bodywork and Maserati’s V8 and running gear. The Quattroporte sports sedan gets a full revision, and both arrive next year. There are rumors of a smaller, more affordable sedan added to the lineup to nudge volume upward a bit. That’s understandable, but the company has to be careful that its brand retains its top shelf allure. BRIAN DOUGLAS


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