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"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.
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.
- Italian cachet
- Ferrari-sourced V-8 power
- Gorgeous interior
- Excellent driving position
- Superb steering feel
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- No manual transmission
- Relatively big and heavy
- Trunk space is minimal