2011 Maserati GranTurismo Page 1

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The beautiful Maserati GranTurismo returns for the 2011 model year with its companion Convertible--and with few changes.

The GranTurismo squares off with the Jaguar XK as one of the sexiest two-doors available, though it commands a large price premium over the Jag. As the replacement for the old GranSport, the GranTurismo succeeds even more handsomely at taking on Jaguar and even the Aston Martin V8 Vantage.

 Maybe its Ferrari-derived engine is worth it? The 4.2-liter, 405-horsepower V-8 gets a bump in displacement and power, to 4.7 liters and 433 hp, in the GranTurismo S models. Both sport a six-speed automatic transmission that cured Maserati's terrible automated-manual transmission, which was offered through 2008. With the paddle-shifted automatic, the standard car can reach 60 mph in 5.1 seconds; the S coupe takes 4.5 seconds. Top speeds are 177 mph and 183 mph, respectively.

Handling is nimble, thanks to quick steering and a taut--sometimes tight--ride with little body motion. An optional Skyhook air suspension allows drivers to choose Sport mode for even more direct ride and throttle. Big Brembo brakes give excellent stopping power, with the brake pedal feel of an exotic car.

Narrow seats and footwells are the hallmark of the GranTurismo interior. It's an intimate interior, with lots of soft leather and natural wood trim, but the seats themselves aren't the most comfortable you can find in the class. The rear seats are almost unusable by adults, better reserved for the occasional child passenger. The driving position is much better than past efforts from Maserati, however.

The GranTurismo has not been crash-tested, but its safety gear is impressive. It includes dual front, side and curtain airbags. Anti-lock brakes and stability control are standard.

Maserati allows owners to custom-order their cars, and offers a wide array of upholstery, wood and color combinations. This year, the GranTurismo also can be ordered with a series of performance parts to amp up its semi-exotic credentials. Those add-ons range from carbon-fiber exhaust pipes and side skirts, to matte-red brake calipers.

For more on the Italian sports car, see our most recent full review of the Maserati GranTurismo.

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