Maserati GranTurismo S auto

It’s always cut a dash on the road, but is stunning coupe now better to drive with enhanced gearbox?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

At £84,395, the GranTurismo S Auto is by no means cheap, but it will save you nearly £4,000 over the S. And for that, you get something that’s easier to live with day to day, yet still possesses a turn of pace and pair of lungs to scare models costing twice its price. The GT has always been an adept grand tourer at heart, which is why this combination of the most powerful engine, mated to a more sedate gearbox, suits it so perfectly.

For fans of fast Italian coupés, it’s the automatic choice! Until now, only the standard GranTurismo, with its less powerful 4.2-litre V8, has been available with an automatic box – but now, the more potent S variant has been fitted with the silky smooth self-shifter.

This car’s comfort-oriented six-speed ZF auto transmission and increased performance should be a marriage made in heaven – but is it?

It’s nearly a year to the day since the GranTurismo S exploded on to the scene. At launch, the only gearbox on offer was the sequential robotised manual – a race-like transmission capable of swapping cogs in a rapid 100 milliseconds.

However, it felt overly harsh on full-bore manual upshifts, and was a crude imitation in automatic mode. Which is where this new, more civilised six-speed gearbox comes in.

Select auto mode and the shifts are seamless. Slide the lever into manual, and the column-mounted paddles allow you to choose the ratio yourself. But it’s in Sport mode that this engine/gearbox combination really comes into its own. Auto shifts happen 40 per cent quicker, and each ratio is held on until a heady 7,200rpm. Take control yourself via the paddles, and the shifts are as fast as you could need on the road, while changing down is accompanied by a flamboyant blip of the throttle – simulating a perfect heel-and-toe gearchange every time.

The adaptive Skyhook dampers, fitted to the S auto as standard, also firm up noticeably, keeping the car flatter in bends, but without losing the suppleness of a true grand tourer. Even in the normal setting, the intuitive dampers automatically alter their stiffness depending on cornering speed and road conditions.

What the pictures here can’t convey, though, is the incredible noise that this engine is famous for. In Sport mode, valves open up in the exhaust when you pass 3,000rpm, turning the already-thrilling soundtrack up by several decibels. Maserati says the engine note has been tuned specifically to be less intrusive on this car, but it’s still deafening.

There are also subtle exterior design tweaks. More prominent side skirts add muscle, while the 20-inch seven-spoke rims are unique to this model. An aerodynamic boot spoiler adds the finishing touch.

The GranTurismo remains one of the most stunning shapes on the road – and now Maserati has found the perfect engine/gearbox combination, it’s as pleasing to drive as it is to look at.

Rival: Merc SL63 AMG Its V8 delivers blistering pace, while it steers and stops like a much smaller car. The seven-speed automated manual gearbox has also transformed the SL from a boulevard cruiser into a serious performance car.

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