When Maserati launched the GranTurismo four years ago, there were those amid the motoring fraternity that felt a more hardcore version was needed.
While the car lacked nothing for drivers who simply wanted to be seen in one of the best looking Italian sportcars ever penned, hardcore drivers felt the car lacked the edge they’d come to expect from a marque that made its name in motorsport.
It appears Maserati’s engineers agreed because they produced this: the Maserati GranTurismo S – a car with more mid-range punch, better weight distribution and improved suspension than the base-model. The three ingredients every ultimate driving machine needs.
Like the GranCabrio we tested a few weeks ago, the GranTurismo uses the Ferrari-built 4.7-litre V8 (it shares the same cylinder block as the Ferrari F430 and Alfa Romeo 8C) to produce 433bhp at a scary 7,000rpm. What’s even more impressive is that the engine’s torque curve is much flatter – giving the car more pulling power for longer.
It sounds fantastic too. Prod the sport button and the car activates valves which bypass part of the exhaust system, releasing a throaty rumble and an additional 10bhp.
The Sport button also activates ‘MC-Shift’ gearchanges; manual cog-swapping at over 5500rpm via the steering column mounted shift levers and the car’s semi-automatic transmission. In a departure from the standard GT, the GT-S transmission is mounted between the rear axles which not only improves overall weight distribution, but helps the MC-Shift system to deliver lightning-fast gearchanges. It does this by overlapping clutch movements, much like the Ferrari F1-Superfast gearbox found in the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano.
Maserati’s engineers have also tightened the car’s suspension. The car sits lower on springs that are five percent stiffer, while the Bilstein dampers have also been beefed up to cope with the rigours of sportier driving. The rear anti-roll bar is thicker too, which is designed to help anchor the rear and improve front-end precision, while the 20-inch alloys and spray thin rubber are also intended to produce huge amounts of grip on dry tarmac.
The result is a leaner, meaner Maserati with the kind of power, performance and poise hardcore petrolheads crave. Acceleration is brutal and, with sport mode selected, manual changes are sublimely smooth as the naturally aspirated V8 roars past 6000rpm. The column-mounted paddle shifters take some getting used to on twisty roads because they force you to take one hand off the wheel to change gears. It’s not a problem that many will encounter, particularly on the arrow-straight motorways of the UAE – but there are occasions when you’d prefer the paddles followed your hands instead.
The GT-S is a staggering sportscar that delivers on the promise that the original GT made. It’s lighter, more nimble, fast and brutal when required. It’s also gorgeous – a far more attractive package than the 599 GTB.
The only real question is whether you opt for the GT-S or the mechanically identical GranCabrio. Given that the transmission and roof rob you of boot-space in the drop top, the choice is obvious.