Published: October 2009
By Lawrence Ulrich
The first rule for an exotic Italian car: Be sexy. The departed Maserati Coupé ignored that rule, and it failed to capture hearts. Now comes the Maserati GranTurismo. And it’s not only fleet, decadent and all-day comfortable—the hallmarks of any classic GT—it’s the four-wheeled equivalent of Monica Bellucci.
Styled by the Pininfarina design house, the master sculptors behind Ferrari, the Maserati is eye-catching but elegant, a return to the flowing forms of the carmaker’s past (the first GT debuted in 1947). True to the GranTurismo formula, it’s powerful yet elegant, with a top speed of 177 mph, a serene ride (eleven Bose speakers provide the soundtrack), and space for custom-fitted Ferragamo luggage. Unlike its rivals, such as the Aston Martin DB9 and the Bentley Continental GT, the Maserati’s back seat will hold more than couture bags and designer dogs. Six-foot-tall adults will find a reasonable perch, at least for modest jaunts. And the trunk is big enough to fit two golf bags.
The Maserati proved a world-class climbing partner in the Dolomites of northern Italy. On the mountain descents, the GT slalomed from rock wall to guardrail at heroic speeds that belied its size and 4,400-pound curb weight. Its Ferrari-based, 405-horsepower V-8 is a star tenor in a world of baritones, scaling its 7,250 rpm peaks with a virtuoso pitch that made the local Italians practically burst into applause. One misgiving: Brakes had gone tentative after a week of horrific Alpine abuse, but Maserati engineers pledged that the huge Brembo binders would be up to any task by the time the production model becomes available in November.
The GranTurismo also says arrivederci to the jerky Formula One—style transmission that has marred previous Maseratis. Now, its six-speed automatic with suede-lined paddle shifters is among the best of its kind. In automatic or manual mode, gear changes are as silky and smooth as a bottle of vintage Barolo—but still pack the necessary kick.
Engine: 4.2-liter V-8
Torque: 339 pound-feet
Weight: 4,400 pounds
Zero to 60 mph: 5.1 seconds