2012 Maserati GranTurismo Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
October 6, 2011

The 2012 Maserati GranTurismo carves out a grand-touring niche for itself with Italian cachet, an earthy Ferrari rumble, and a serene blend of ride and handling.

"Cachet" sounds like some kind of exotic Italian baggage, and in the case of the 2012 Maserati GranTurismo coupes and convertibles, it's baggage we don't mind carrying on, and on, and on.

The GranTurismo replaced the GranSport a few years ago, and stunning must have been the mission assigned to designers. Today's grand tourer is a gorgeous piece, with a low-slung front end and a hippy rear end and a stunning, soothing interior upholstered in your choice of custom finishes.

The powertrain's core is a magnificent Ferrari-sourced V-8. This year, all GranTurismos are powered by the larger-displacement 4.7-liter eight, with either 433 or 444 horsepower shuttled to the rear wheels through a responsive ZF six-speed automatic. There's no manual to be had, but you'll barely miss it in Sport mode, clicking away at the GranTurismo's paddle shifters and letting the Skyhook suspension take the sting off the worst kinds of pavement while soaking up its excellent grand-touring ride quality.

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At the extreme, the MC coupe has a non-adjustable suspension tuned more tightly for competition, if you're inclined to weekend track dates, but it's not the kind of car that tackles the track credentials of cars like the 911 head-on. The best GranTurismo will drop 60-mph runs in 4.8 seconds, right in Aston and Jaguar territory but a second slower at least than the fastest Porsches in the price range. The sonorous engine note alone is more soulful than any spec-sheet champ we've driven, though, and that has to count for something in a world of numbers-driven supercars.

The Ferrari-inspired engine is an awesome piece, but the GranTurismo's four-seat cabin is the real rarity, and a useful one. We're not suggesting you stuff NBA recruits back there, but the rear seats are usable for all but the biggest adults. The trunk has just enough room for a pair of weekend bags.

Elsewhere, the GranTurismo's up to date with technology, including a standard navigation system, Bluetooth, and a Bose audio system. The options list blooms with cosmetic frills and haute-coutuore fillips-- custom-stitched seats, a choice of wood trim and differently colored leathers stitched on the seats, steering wheel and dash. You'd be missing the point if you didn't spend for the red-painted calipers or the trident-embroidered headrests.

That custom look and feel is the point, in case you missed it in the blur of rushing landscape and the Doppler snarl of the sport exhaust. The GranTurismo's not about logical decisions. It's the Italian analogue to Jaguar XK, another car that warms your heart well before it sinks into your brain. They're gentleman's GTs, nearly bespoke in style as well as in pricetag, distinctive and worthy because of what they're not.

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2012 Maserati GranTurismo

Styling

Gorgeous from all angles and finished with sumptuous good taste, the 2012 Maserati GranTurismo is the emotional opposite of a cool-touch 911.

We're pretty sure it's Italian law that Maseratis have to be gorgeous. And as car carabinieri, we're willing to forgive the geometry-puzzle Biturbos and bulky Coupes of the past, since the GranTurismo coupes and convertibles of today are such standout pieces of design.

The GranTurismo's silhouette is elegant and exciting, a blend that doesn't always come easy. The stereotypical curves are all there, but they're more voluptuous and individual than you think, until you see them fold and swell into each other. From the flared rear fenders--like the Porsche 944 in some lights--to the low-slung front end, it's all sleekly wedged for maximum sensual appeal. Convertibles come off more cleanly, as usual, since snipping off the roof focuses all your attention on the car's hips. The MC has some heavy feel up front--the front fascia gives it thicker jowls but more downforce and better brake cooling--but all versions benefit a lot from the snob appeal of a trident emblem on the grille.

The interior's just as seductive. The control layout's globalized and without the irritating ergonomic lapses of the past, and it's slathered in the most attractive mix of leather and wood and metal this side of a Jaguar XK. The gentle dip across the dash that nestles the shield-shaped clock is perfectly understated, and it's played up when a two-tone combination of trim is specified. That's the dirty-capitalist fun part of ordering a GranTurismo--choosing Bianco Pregiato leather over Grigio Chrono, painting your brake calipers yellow or black, having your headrests stitched with tridents in red thread or black. Personally, we'd leave the cliched carbon-fiber trim behind, but you're free to make awful choices with your money. That's awfully hard to do given the impeccably tasteful options on the table.

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2012 Maserati GranTurismo

Performance

The 2012 Maserati GranTurismo lineup has the perfect blend of sportscar responses and luxury-car refinement--not to mention that wicked V-8 burble.

The GranTurismo's a raucous-sounding, fluid-handling machine, and this year Maserati's done away with the base engine so all drivers get the benefit of more displacement and more horsepower.

All Maserati GranTurismo coupes and convertibles now come with the 4.7-liter engine, with either 433 horsepower on tap in base coupes and convertibles, or 444 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque in the Convertible Sport or MC coupe. In either form it's a thrill-packed ride up the powerband. The Ferrari-sourced powerplant barks out beautiful music when pushed up near its redline, pounding out bucketfuls of useful torque on the way. A sport exhaust system on MC coupes and Sport convertibles amps up the soundtrack, something Maserati says owners were keen on, but we're mixed on its effects: in some driving modes, it's open all the time, and the booming accompaniment to the usual melodic noises isn't always a good thing.

The V-8's always teamed to a six-speed ZF automatic that gets sport controls of its own, on MC and Sport models. It's a quick, decisive gearbox that's light-years ahead of the automated manual it replaced. With available shift paddles, it snaps off gearchanges more quickly than most automatics we know, and in sport mode it blips the throttle to match revs before downshifts and holds gears at redline--a great way of accommodating those who really wanted a traditional manual transmission but don't get one at all on the GranTurismo.

From one stock drivetrain come varied performance figures. Maserati claims the base S coupe takes 4.8 seconds to accelerate to 60 mph, and reaches a top speed of 183 mph, while the base convertible takes 5.3 seconds and reaches 176 mph. The S convertible shaves a tenth of a second off the 60-mph times. MC coupes reach 60 mph in 4.8 seconds but hit a top speed of 185 mph, a psychological win of 300 km/h in the metric system.

The Ferrari-inspired soundtrack and performance will lure you, and the GranTurismo's beautifully sorted-out handling will woo you to the Italian school of grand touring. It's nimble--no, you don't need "for its size" here--aided by quick steering and a near-ideal weight balance, front to rear. Amateurs can feel out the car's limits without too much worry, and the GranTurismo's compliant enough to absorb some bad driving and still make it look good. The ground-hugging weight of almost 4,400 pounds helps here, but so does the automatic Skyhook suspension, which has choices for normal or Sport reflexes, both of them being well inside the luxury-car limits of comfort. There's little uncontrolled body motion in the GranTurismo, and Sport mode firms up the ride even further, while it sharpens throttle response. Big Brembo brakes have excellent feel that will remind you of some more exotic machines.

The GranTurismo MC has an asterisk here for its standard single-rate suspension. Skyhook's still an option, but the MC comes from the factory ready for competition, with standard springs and shocks, the sport transmission, a limited-slip differential, sport-tweaked stability control, and Pirelli PZero Corsa tires, 245/35-ZR20 fronts and 285/35-ZR20 rears. Collectors and racers will love its absolutely flat cornering and the carbon-fiber trim, but everyone else will be better suited in a Skyhook-equipped car with all the opulent wood trimming.

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2012 Maserati GranTurismo

Comfort & Quality

The Maserati GranTurismo's classy interior has room for adults, even in back, and surrounds them in beautiful materials.

A gentleman's GT from nose to tail, the 2012 Maserati GranTurismo is a rare luxury two-door, one with just enough room for four adults to take in the sensory delights.

At 192.2 inches long, with a 115.8-inch wheelbase, the Maserati's a bit larger than its European competition. It's a long-distance cruiser, too, since the power front seats aren't the fussy carbon-fiber variety you'd find in a more overt sports car. They're firm and a little narrow across the shoulders, but the GranTurismo's seats fit bigger frames just fine. Leg and head room are fine, not particularly expansive until you compare it with more exotic sports cars sitting just above its price point.

The back seat? It can feel a little confining, and the tallest passengers won't be quiet about the accommodations for long. Most everyone else will be able to make do with the back-seat space, and fairly long doors make the rear seats fairly easy to clamber into. Most other GTs don't even offer the rear seats, but the GranTurismo's usable rear buckets are one of the better reasons to opt for it over the likes of the Jaguar XK or the Mercedes-Benz SL.

Cargo space is moderate. Maserati claims a pair of golf bags will fit; for non-golfers, think more like a pair of roll-aboard bags and some soft-sided luggage. At 6.1 cubic feet, the trunk's about the same size as the one in the Mercedes-Benz SLS roadster and gullwing. It's not tremendous--but Maserati will sell you a custom-made, custom-fitted set of luggage to take up every cubic inch.

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2012 Maserati GranTurismo

Safety

The Maserati GranTurismo has the safety equipment you'd expect--but it doesn't yet have official crash-test scores.

With the usual required safety gear in place, the 2012 Maserati GranTurismo coupe and convertible have a few additional helpers in place to prevent or mitigate accidents, but they don't have any real crash-test data yet in their corner.

For a few reasons, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has performed their battery of tests on the GranTurismo. Primarily, the low production numbers are behind the decision, but the car's luxury pricetag is also a factor. Exotic-car buyers can be nonchalant about test scores too, so the lack of numbers isn't out of the ordinary--and it's not likely to change any time soon.

The GranTurismo lineup does have the usual assortment of front and side airbags, stability control and anti-lock brakes. Convertibles also get pop-up rollover bars that deploy in case an accident threatens a rollover accidents. The stability control is tuned for more wheelspin when Sport mode is engaged on models offering it. Rear parking sensors are standard equipment and front sensors are available--except on the MC, where neither are offered--but there's no rearview camera, and the GranTurismo could use one, since its low seating position makes rearward visibility a challenge even in the convertible.

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2012 Maserati GranTurismo

Features

Ordering a 2012 Maserati GranTurismo feels like a trip through a tailor's shop, complete with choices of fabric, leather, wood and metal.

It's expensive by any measure, but the 2012 Maserati GranTurismo has the features expected at its price point, and its custom-fit options list would make any Italian fashion house's fall collection.

For a base price of about $126,000 rising to $143,400, the GranTurismo lineup includes four models: the base GranTurismo S Coupe, a base Convertible and Convertible Sport; and the MC. All models come standard with leather upholstery; automatic climate control; power heated front seats; Bluetooth; an AM/FM/CD audio system with satellite radio and USB connectivity; a hard-drive-based navigation system with 30GB of storage for other media; red-painted brake calipers; 20-inch wheels; and rear parking sensors.

Both convertibles have a power-operated, triple-layer top with a glass rear window standard. A wind deflector is available.

Convertible Sport editions get shift paddles and a sport-programmed automatic transmission; a sport-tuned suspension; smoked metallic trim; a front spoiler; and a sport exhaust system. Front parking sensors are an option on either Convertible, along with the usual dizzying array of color and trim options: you can paint the brake calipers any of seven different colors, choose two-tone leather treatments, even order the Maserati trident logo embroidered on the seats' headrests.

Carbon-fiber and metallic trim pieces can be applied to Sport convertibles, but they're included with the MC coupe, which approximates a racing version sold in Europe. In addition to sport suspension and transmission tuning, the MC gets bi-xenon headlamps with adaptive control; dark metallic trim and S badging; aluminum pedals and shift paddles; sport seats; distinctive wheels and its own front and rear fascias.

If you're looking for a bargain on the options list, you might be tempted to spec a standard coupe to MC spec. Maserati figures you can almost do it--but it reserves the sport-shift paddles and other trim to the MC model alone.

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2012 Maserati GranTurismo

Fuel Economy

Italian sportscars and gas mileage? Yep, they're still not on speaking terms.

Fuel economy is no grand tourer's best friend, and the 2012 Maserati GranTurismo is no different from the likes of the Mercedes-Benz SL or the Jaguar XK in its low gas mileage.

The EPA rates the GranTurismo coupe at 13/21 mpg; convertible editions drop to 13/20 mpg. We've observed as much as 16 mpg even when flogging the Maserati through a desert canyon or two, but that's probably the most you'll see with regular use--especially if you keep its V-8 in the best-sounding part of its powerband.

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8.6
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Styling 9.0
Performance 9.0
Comfort & Quality 8.0
Safety 8.0
Features 9.0
Fuel Economy 5.0
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