Maserati GranTurismo

Out with the old Coupé and in with the new GranTurismo, Maserati's best car for 25 years!

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The GranTurismo is the best car Maserati has built for at least 25 years. You would expect glamorous looks, a tuneful V8 and a charismatic cabin. But even better, many of the marque’s traditional weaknesses, such as a compromised driving position, crashy ride and suspect build, are vastly improved. The ergonomics aren’t perfect and the gearbox software means awkward shifts, but this is a large, charming and capable coupé – and a serious alternative to Jaguar’s XKR.

What’s the first thing that springs to mind when you hear ‘GranTurismo’? If it’s the PlayStation game, you’re prob­ably not a Maserati buff.

That’s because GranTurismo is the name that helped launch the firm’s first car 61 years ago. And in honour of that historic moment, its latest pro­duct is set to wear the badge, too.

The 2008 GranTurismo replaces the simply named Coupé and, in common with the original version, the latest model is a fully fledged grand tourer. So, unlike the Coupé, it seats four in comfort. However, as it shares its plat­form – as well as its engine and gear­box – with the Quattro­porte saloon, the newcomer is 350mm longer than the outgoing two-door.

Pininfarina has done a good job of hiding the increase in size, preventing the car looking bulky. The sleek and swoopy silhouette has tremendous pre- sence, and the Maserati is beautifully proportioned, with classic detailing. As far as desirability goes, it’s on a par with Aston Martins and Ferraris.

But neither rival produces anything capable of accommodating four adults in such comfort. Rear head and legroom are both exemplary, and there are even Isofix mountings for child seats. Yet it’s arguably not as versatile as its most direct rival, Jaguar’s XKR, which has a hatchback rear.

Ignore the small boot, and the Maserati’s cabin is wonderful because of its style, elegance and significant improvements. The materials, in particular the leather, feel expensive and while the seats are firm, they are well shaped. The driving position is more nat­ural than in the Coupé; better still, build quality is far superior.

In fact, the whole bodyshell is much more rigid, which adds to the driver appeal. Our car was fitted with the optional £1,721 Skyhook adaptive suspension, which has two modes (Comfort and Sport). It delivers a con­sistent ride quality that’s much less crashy than in the Coupé. Good cabin refinement ensures the GranTurismo is a fine long-distance choice, although the steering can be a touch twitchy, mainly because it’s too light.

In fact, the handling is surprisingly snappy – but it’s also composed, well balanced and not as soft as it might appear in the picture below.

There’s nothing gentle about the engine, either. The naturally aspirated 400bhp 4.2-litre V8, which revs up to 7,500rpm, delivers enough thrust to keep class competitors honest. There are two drawbacks, though. It doesn’t have much mid-range get-up-and-go, and the six-speed automatic transmission won’t hold on to gears. Even in Manual mode, the box kicks down without proper warning.

These niggles aside, the GranTur­ismo is a very impressive coupé. Now, all Maserati has to do is convince customers that it hasn’t snatched the name from a video game...

Rival: Jaguar XKR The supercharged Jag costs nearly £10,000 less and, although not as large, it's every bit as eye-catching. It's arguably better engineered than its rival, but can't quite match the Italian's sense of occasion.

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