2013 Maserati GranTurismo Performance

9.0
Performance

With a raucous V-8 under the hood and graceful dynamics underfoot, the Maserati GranTurismo feels as fluid as it looks, at rest or at speed.

Last year Maserati made the 4.7-liter V-8--derived from Ferrari designs--standard on either body style. This year, all versions are uprated, with the base convertible being the only model with 44 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque--this year's lowest specific output, but last year's peak figures. All other versions gain 10 hp for a total of 454 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque. The trip up the powerband is a thrill ride with an aural soundtrack second to none: it makes a beautiful noise as it stabs at the redline, pouring on acceleration and barking out a staccato rap through a sport-exhaust system that can get a little boomy at times.

A grand tourer with a Ferrari roar and the compliance of a Jaguar, the GranTurismo earns its "GT" with a marvelous mix of ride and handling.

All versions now adopt the upgraded six-speed ZF automatic with sport controls, once reserved for the MC and Sport models. Quick gearchanges, a manual mode that holds gears, and throttle-blipping on downshifts makes it a decisive transmission that makes perfect sense in a grand tourer, and soothes over the lack of a manual transmission.

The drivetrain yields tight performance numbers, with the coupes zipping to 60 mph in an estimated 4.7 seconds, reaching a top speed of 185 mph. The base Sport convertible takes 5.1 seconds to hit 60 mph and reaches 177 mph; the Sport convertible shaves two-tenths of a second off the 60-mph times and reaches the same top speed. All figures are marginally quicker than in 2012.

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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