First drive: 2018 Maserati GranTurismo in Italy
Maserati’s GranTurismo has now been soldiering on for 10 years, but the stylish coupe – and cabrio – have now come in for a final round of upgrades to keep the car fresh until an all-new replacement finally arrives over the coming year or two.
As part of the latest updates, the Maserati top brass has opted to mothball the old entry-level 4.2-litre V8, as well as the clunky single-clutch automated gearbox, which means all models are now equipped with the beefier 460 hp 4.7-litre V8, mated to the familiar six-speed ZF auto. There’s now two distinct variants across both coupe and cabrio variants – the entry-level version is dubbed ‘Sport’, while the top-dawg is the more focused ‘MC’, distinguishable by its carbon-fibre front splitter and aggressive rear diffuser.
You need a keen eye to pick up on the changes between old and new, but trainspotters will have noticed the reprofiled grille and front and rear bumpers, while the cabin gains the same touchscreen infotainment system as the Levante (which is taken straight out of the Chrysler parts bin), in lieu of the olde-worlde satnav that has served the GranTurismo until now. That said, there’s still no signs of safety features such as lane-assist, radar cruise control or even keyless start, which means the updated GranTurismo still lags behind the opposition in the kit department.
Despite its deficit in terms of on-paper credentials — its outputs of 460 hp and 520 Nm look a bit ordinary against some of its rivals — the GranTurismo still serves up a healthy dose of charisma, in no small part thanks to the growling V8 that remains one of the best sounding engines in any car, at any price.
The Maser’s raw performance (0-100 kph in 4.7 seconds) isn’t mind-blowing by today’s standards, but the way the V8 goes about its business more or less compensates for this. The Ferrari-built motor is positively operatic in the upper half of its rev range, and the exhausts spit out some pleasing pops and crackles on the overrun, especially in the more hardcore MC variant.
The six-speed auto lacks the immediacy and response of the dual-clutch ’boxes now on offer in most rivals, but at least it’s smooth and relatively seamless in terms of shift quality. The hydraulically assisted steering also lacks a degree of crispness, and its low-geared ratio means lots of wheel twirling is required across hairpin-strewn roads.
The MC’s beefy 20-inch wheel/tyre combo means grip levels are respectable, but there’s no getting away from the fact it’s a weighty car at just under 1.9 tonnes, and it stretches almost 5m from bumper to bumper, so it’s not exactly a point-and-squirt weapon.
Curiously, the range-topping GranTurismo MC uses fixed-rate dampers while the cheaper Sport gets adaptive units, and the flagship feels their absence. Even on smooth roads, the MC transmits minor imperfections in the tarmac through to your derriere. There is still a Sport button, but this only alters the throttle map and gearshift mode.
The softer GranTurismo Sport sacrifices a modicum of dynamic ability to the MC, but its more cossetting ride is better suited to the effortless continent-crossing role that goes hand-in-hand with a luxury grand tourer such as this.
The new infotainment system works well, and the standard Harman Kardon audio system pumps out some quality vibes. That said, the GranTurismo’s cabin feels distinctly dated, with a slightly offset driving position and non-ergonomic switchgear.
All in all, there’s no getting away from the fact the GranTurismo is now a true veteran (or grandpa, as our Editor-in-Chief calls it) among the luxury coupe brigade. There are faster and more capable alternatives out there, but we wouldn’t blame you if its Pininfarina-penned lines and Ferrari-built engine are sufficient to sway your vote in favour of the achingly beautiful Maserati.
Photos by Maserati.