Maserati GranCabrio Sport
We get behind the wheel of the faster and louder Maserati drop-top, but can it live up to its name?
The GranCabrio Sport feels more like a facelift of the GranCabrio, improving it subtly in a number of areas. Power is up, emissions are down, and it’s sharper to look at and drive. Although it’s getting on a bit, the Ferrari-derived V8 engine is still one of the best sounds in motoring, and provides plenty of pace. Maserati bosses are positioning it as a more hardcore model, which is true in some respects, but with a ride that’s almost as comfortable as the standard GranCabrio, and a price that’s not much higher, we can’t think of many reasons why you wouldn’t pick the Sport.
Buying a Maserati GranCabrio used to be easy. There were no confusing trim options or gearbox choices, and only one engine – a 434bhp 4.7-litre V8. That’s about to change, though, with a more hardcore model called the GranCabrio Sport. It gets an extra 10bhp and a stiffer set-up for a sharper drive.
The GranCabrio is already an eye-catching car but this new Sport variant gets a black grille, redesigned side skirts and new front corner splitters. The big changes are under the skin though.
Springs and adaptive dampers are stiffened by 15 per cent at the front and rear and the anti-roll bars have been beefed up for more precise handling. The brakes have also been improved.
The effect of these changes is it now feels more agile and focused than the standard car but still maintains the level of comfort customers expect. The Sport deals with large potholes incredibly well and at no point does the ride seem harsh.
Turn-in is crisp and precise and the surprisingly weighty steering is a pleasure to use. The upgraded suspension does a fantastic job of keeping understeer at bay and taut body control hides the GranCabrio’s near-two-tonne kerbweight.
Despite an extra 10bhp over the standard car, the 5.2 seconds 0-62mph time is only a tenth quicker. There’s no change to how power is delivered either – drivers will have to wait until 7000rpm before the engine produces its best.
Thanks to new oval exhaust tips and changes to the valves, the engine sounds better than ever. With the fabric roof folded down – a process that takes 28 seconds – and the ‘Sport’ button pressed there’s an addictive burble from the exhausts that escalates to a howl as the revs rise. Raise the roof and the triple-layered fabric top provides excellent refinement and you’ll only notice a small amount of wind noise at motorway speeds.
There are a couple of downsides though. The rear seats are among the most generous in the four-seat convertible segment but tall passengers could still find themselves a little cramped and the boot is tiny with only 173-litres on offer.
These are criticisms that can be leveled at the standard GranCabrio though and if we had to pick between the two we’d choose the Sport. It sounds better, drives better and looks better than the standard car but is almost just as comfortable and costs just £4,000 more.