Gran Turismo Maserati’s Race Car for the Street

Gran Turismo Maserati’s Race Car for the Street

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As a complementary variant to the Quattroporte, Maserati are offering a two door version called the GranTurismo, and at the invitation of Next Car Sdn Bhd, we took a quick trip down to Singapore to test the model styled by Pininfarina. Not that the roads in Singapore are really suited for checking out such a sweet performer, given the strict speed regulations and the no-nonsense traffic cops; I would suppose that this was a reasonable compromise, as this was a regional event, and Hong Seh Motors, the Singapore agents for the brand, had enough units of this exotic car to go around.

Introduced at the 2007 Geneva Motorshow, the Maserati GranTurismo is a car that has a rich history, and is a car talked about for a long time to come, a fact that¡¦s demonstrated by the excellent reception from customers, to the extent that the entire production run for 2007 has sold out immediately.

The GranTurismo blends style and emotion into a thoroughbred and sporty car, yet exudes class and elegance. What it really offers is a racing engine in a two-door sports car but without the unpredictability and temperamental behaviour usually associated with thoroughbreds. The key feature of the GranTurismo that will make it successful is probably the fact that it is equipped with an automatic transmission, and a very good and smooth, electronically controlled one at that, allowing one to open its throttle out wide in the open, yet is easy on the user, especially in heavy stop and go traffic.

This effectively means that whilst you may own a Ferrari that you can only take out on weekends, the GranTurismo is one car that you can use as a daily driver, and still have fun with on weekends. In fact, whilst Ferraris typically cover four or five thousand kilometres a year, the designers at Maserati expect their customers to cover between twenty to thirty thousand kilometres per year.

The GranTurismo is designed by motoring enthusiasts, to provide excellent handling, a very sporty feel and a thrilling drive. It is also a car that pays attention to comfort, materials, details, with large interior space and will carry up to four adults, something not many cars in this segment cannot do. The rear seats have been designed to accommodate two adults comfortably even on long journeys, which makes the vehicle a perfect grand tourer. Incredibly, there is a boot, designed to take a five-piece Salvatore Ferragano luggage set (not included in the purchase price ļ), or two standard size golf bags.

Standard fitment of a V8 4.2 engine from the Ferrari stable, with 405 hp at 7,100 rpm and a maximum torque of 460 Nm at 4,750 km/h, of which 75% is already achievable at 2,500 rpm, makes the GranTurismo a powerful car. Its maximum speed is 285 km/h, and it accelerates from 0-100 in 5.2 seconds. Weight distribution is 49% on the front, 51% at the rear. The gearbox is adaptive, and aligns itself with individual driving styles. At 192.17 in long, and with a wheel base of 2942 mm, the GranTurismo, shod on 19¡¨ wheels, (with 20¡¨ available as an optional extra), is a big car.

According to the technical people, fuel economy on the GranTurismo has been improved even further ¡V with a 3% reduction compared to the Quattroporte Automatic (which had already achieved savings of 9% compared to the earlier model). Not that fuel consumption is going to be a key consideration when one is going to shell out RM1,029 million for one of these cars.

As usual for Maserati cars, the possibilities for customization are endless, with a wide selection of materials to choose from, including Poltrona Frau leather and various types of wood, as well as numerous color schemes.

Maserati¡¦s Gran Turismo tradition began in 1947, at the Geneva Motorshow, where Maserati unveiled its first A6 Gran Turismo, styled by Pininfarina. It was the first ever Maserati road car and 58 units were produced. Ten years later, in 1957, again at the Geneva Motorshow, Maserati unveiled its first standard Gran Turismo, the 3500 GT. This was the car that turned Maserati into a road car manufacturer: from then on production of road cars took priority over that of racing models. A total of 1,983 units of the 3500GT were produced over the next seven years. Since its follow-up launch at the recent Tokyo Motor Show this year, this latest model has an order bank of more than 400 units for the region.

The drive on the roads of Singapore was quite uneventful, and we generally kept to the speed limit, exceeding it by a little at times when we had the chance. We were pre-warned about two permanently mounted speed cameras along the way, and bearing in mind that the speed limit is anything between 80 and 90 km/hr, we could only get a very limited ¡¥feel¡¦ for the car. So it was pedal to the metal from standstill to the speed limit, and then practically coasting along, except for short spurts of adrenalin-pumping moments.

You have the option to change gears using the large paddle shifters or letting the car do it all for you in auto mode. Changes are silky smooth, and the close-ratio gearbox allows for some very enjoyable driving if you know what you are doing.

In terms of power delivery, the GranTurismo does its job well. Acceleration is fast, but the refinement of the GranTurismo seems to ¡¥water¡¦ it down a little. Perhaps it is the excellent muffling, or the sound-proofing, but perhaps I should explain that this is precisely what design engineers wanted to achieve; a car that goes like stink, but does not show it.

The suspension is set on the comfortable side of firm, i.e., firm enough that we could take the fast bends on the highways without any fuss, but soft enough to keep you from getting saddle sore after a couple of hours of driving. Straight line stability is great, steering is precise, and lane change behaviour is excellent. On the many occasions when we had to brake, the brakes performed unerringly each time, so generally, performance is not an issue, as long as you understand that the GranTurismo is not an out and out racing car, but rather a ¡¥toned down¡¦ version meant for daily use.

It is a car that will certainly turn heads, and is a sure babe magnet, but in this country, I would expect that the owner would have to be a very successful and probably very busy businessman, with not much time for trivial pursuits.


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