Car reviews - Maserati - GranTurismo - MC Sportline
Flexible engine, useful transmission, ride quality, interior ambience, playful handling, looks
Room for improvement
Elderly infotainment set-up, paddle shifter proximity to wheel, bootspace, large steering wheel
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20 Apr 2016
Price and equipment
WHEN the pricetag sits just south of $300,000 you expect some gear in return - the Maserati GranTurismo MC Sportline asks for $295,000 excluding on-road costs when equipped with the six-speed automatic transmission (add $26,000 for the six speed sequential manual gearbox).
The features list includes an alarm, automatic and adaptive bi-Xenon headlights, front foglights, power-folding, adjustable, auto-dimming and heated exterior mirrors with puddle lights, oval exhausts, rain-sensing wipers and an auto-dimming centre mirror.
The cabin is equipped with dual-zone climate control with rear airvents, power-adjustable and heated front seats, an overly-large power-adjustable leather-wrapped steering wheel, a trip computer, the infotainment system with a 30-gig hard drive and voice control, Bluetooth phone (but not music) link, a Bose surround-sound system that has a USB (which doesn’t talk to iPhones easily) and auxiliary input.
In special edition MC Sportline guise, you also get some tasty tidbits from the MC Stradale, including a lightweight and vented aluminum bonnet, as well as 20-inch MSC Design alloy wheels and darkened headlights to complete the malevolent exterior.
Maserati claims the additional equipment and features stowed in the new model update represents more than $30,000 in additional value, but progress in the infotainment sector has left the gracefully-ageing Maserati behind more rapidly than the rest of the car suggests.
The body – which at almost 4900mm long, just over 2000mm wide (including the mirrors) and just over 1300mm tall takes up quite a bit of road – offers bootspace of just 260 litres but it’s the cabin that makes up for it.
Accommodating four average-sized adults (but maybe not all their luggage), the interior is swathed in Poltrona Frau premium leather bearing the marks of what the brand describes as Centenario design, yet another nod to the marque’s century of operation.
The roof and pillars are covered in Alcantara and at night the stylish package is set off by diffused interior ambient lighting to great effect – praise is forthcoming about this vehicle even before you fire it up (with a key, no less).
There are sacrifices for style – cabin storage is less than cavernous and you have to ignore the relationships with other Fiat Chrysler Automobiles brands that have donated switchgear and screens (Chrysler and Jeep owners will have no issue operating the infotainment system).
The instruments take some reading – the digital speed readout is too small and the dial’s 30km/h increments are not ideal – and the functionality is not up to the other newer models of the Maserati range.
The audio controls on the rear of the too-large steering wheel’s spokes are straight out of the Chrysler parts catalogue and they are quite useful in most instances, but the proximity of the paddle shifters is too close.
But forgive all the idiosyncrasies and revel in the classically Italian blue-stitched white leather interior, right down to the analogue clock that you could whack a band on and wear.
The sports theme is betrayed by the carbon-fibre sports buckets seats, which are quite comfortable and deceptively supportive, with the added benefit of taking up less of the rear seat legroom than the standard front pews.
Engine and transmission
Punching a paunchy 1780kg sports coupe from zero to 100km/h in 4.8 seconds and a 298km/h top speed requires serious outputs – the 4.7-litre Ferrari-derived V8 delivers 338kW and 520Nm in a manner matched by few naturally-aspirated V8s anywhere.
The 90-degree V8 boasts a toughened aluminium crankcase and heads, as well as a forged steel crankshaft and four valves per cylinder driven by quad camshafts.
Deceptively flexible given the peak torque arrives at 4750rpm, the orchestral nature of the engine as it approaches the 7200rpm cut-out puts most philharmonics to shame, particularly if the Sport mode has been selected and the transmission is in manual shift mode.
The smooth and leisurely shifts are banished and the manual mode sharpens up nicely, without jarring the changes, accompanied by a soundtrack that prompts over-use of the paddle shifters.
The price of conducting the Maranello orchestra beneath the beautiful vented aluminium clad snout is fuel use in the high teens – 17.2 litres of premium fuel was taken from the tank for every 100km we covered, a little more than the claimed combined cycle number of 14.3L/100km, but not unexpected given the concert that it was performing.
The automatic is a ZF six-speed with a launch control function, driving the rear wheels via a limited slip differential backed by stability and traction control systems.
Ride and handling
Near-perfect weight distribution and an adaptively-damped suspension package reads as a recipe for amusement on the right road and the car doesn’t disappoint.
Even before the favoured back roads are reached, the big four-seater impresses with its ride quality and refinement.
Thirty five-profile tyres do little to insulate from the rough edges and cracks of local roads but aside from that the damping deals with the larger bumps with aplomb.
Sporting double wishbones front and rear and adaptive damping, the GranTurismo commutes without complaint from car or passengers there’s an optional 19-inch wheel with 40-profile tyres on offer but there’s little thought given to that package as a preference.
Once the metropolitan road network has disappeared from the mirrors, the Maserati shrinks a little around the driver and it shows off the other extreme of its exceptional road manners.
The front end bites into bends with gusto, with little doubt left in the driver’s mind as to what the nose is doing nor does it often suggest the tail isn’t going to follow obediently.
Fast-flowing roads are traversed with operatic enthusiasm and tighter twistier sections don’t demand much of a change in pace.
Safety and servicing
The monocoque galvanised steel body of the two-door coupe is clad in panels of a similar material, with aluminium used for the bonnet and bumper front reinforcement cross member the boot lid is made from a composite material.
Among the standard safety features is a tyre-pressure monitor, dual front, side and window airbags, front and rear parking sensors (but sadly and staggeringly no reversing camera) and a puncture repair kit in lieu of a spare for the 20-inch alloy wheels.
Bringing it all to a halt in a hurry is a Brembo brake system using ventilated and cross-drilled discs front and rear, gripped by alloy six-piston front and four-piston rear callipers.
Maserati claims the set-up brings the coupe from 100km/h to zero in 35 metres.
It’s not hard to see why the GranTurismo was a key to reviving the enigmatic Italian marque to near its former glory – the big coupe has charisma to burn even near the end of its model life.
Classically talented in the corners but easy to live with every day, the Maserati was sorely missed after its all-too-brief appearance in our driveway.
Sure, there’s plenty to dislike about the out-dated infotainment system but the curvy Italian can grace us with its presence any time it likes.
BMW M6 from $292,600 plus on-road costs
BMW’s M6 might not have the classic Italian styling or the musical power plant but it has pace and poise to burn – 441kW and 700Nm from the 4.4-litre forced-induction V8 and claims of 3.9 second sprints to 100km/h put the Maserati’s performance in perspective.
Porsche 911 Carrera 4S from $260,500 plus on-road costs
Porsche’s new 911 might not have the same amount of rear space but the luggage side of things isn’t much different it has taken the turbo path range-wide and that may change the aural aspect a little, but when you consider a 309kW/500Nm Carrera 4S is quicker than the Maserati and in the same price ballpark, much will depend on how much value is put in the style factor.
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