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The iconic trident emblem that graces the Maserati GranTurismo hasn’t changed in nearly a century – a testament to the Italian maker’s resistance to trends and reverence for its own automotive traditions.
Since 1920, when Mario Maserati first took inspiration for the trident from the ‘Fountain of Neptune’ in the family’s hometown of Bologna, anyone investing in a Maserati has bought into a heritage and a badge that marches to the beat of its own drum.
In the ensuing 95 years, Maserati has been a centre player in motor racing history, with celebrated wins in the Targa Florio, Sebring and the Nurbugring. It’s also the only Italian car manufacturer to claim back-to-back wins at the famed Indianapolis 500, from1939 to 1940.
Thankfully, it’s still making great looking cars, like this GranTurismo MC Sportline.
The ‘MC’ stands for Maserati Corse, the division that runs Maserati’s racing activities, but it’s also borrowed from the hard-core MC Stradale version of the GranTurismo.
Like classic two-door Maseratis of the past, such as the gorgeous Ghibli (oddly enough, it’s a four-door these days), the GranTurismo is beautifully styled, and any further enhancement seems superfluous except for a nip and tuck here and there.
The blacked-out 20-inch wheels add a touch of menace, as do the artistically integrated heat extraction vents sculptured into the lightweight aluminium bonnet.
It’s all very tasty stuff and all the more attractive when set off against the Blu Sofisticato paint job of our test model.
Under the bonnet it’s no less thrilling – a Ferrari- derived naturally aspirated 4.7-litre V8 mated to a traditional six-speed auto transmission. Off the line, it can hit 100km/h in 4.8 seconds and top speed is 298km/h with the standard auto, or 300km/h with the robotized manual option. More on that later.
Priced from $295,000 (plus on-road costs) the big Maserati Coupe isn't exactly a bargain, but it does undercut rival exotics such as the $349,000 Aston Martin DB9 and the $381,000 Bentley Continental GT V8. Less expensive choices might include the $229,600 BMW M6 Coupe and $226,000 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe.
The Maserati is special, boasting an interior that offers a blend of sophisticated luxury and Italian craftsmanship, the quality of the materials and attention to detail are a level above the competition.
Highlights include the super-supple Poltrona Frau leather trim, created by hand to mark the century of Maserati. The front seats use carbon-fibre backs for less weight and more legroom. In fact, it’s the comfort afforded to its rear seat passengers that sets the GranTurismo apart from its two-door GT rivals – there’s room enough back there for two full-size adults to travel in five-star luxury, and that includes longer journeys.
Details like the blue piping and Maserati-logo embroidery are an added treat, as are the gloss-finished carbon-fibre inserts on those same body-hugging sports pews. Above that, you’ll find acres of the suede-like Alcantara across the entire headlining and it all looks impeccably top notch.
I especially like the lightweight alloy brake pedal embossed with the marque’s Trident logo, as well as Maserati’s trademark analogue clock that’s been a fixture in its cars for as long as I can remember.
The driving position is just like it should be; low set, well bolstered and superbly comfortable, even for large frames.
However, the GranTurismo has been around since 2007 and that shows more than ever in the centre console, which all looks a bit ordinary by today’s standards. The same goes for the instrument display, which feels more antiquated than classic – it’s all a bit too fiddly.
Thankfully, there’s a digital speedo, but it’s too small to be of any use to those of us that require readers for fine print.
That doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of luxury kit on board and the Bose audio produces a quality Bluetooth note that helps distract from the agony of stop/start city traffic.
In the scheme of things, none of the oversights are deal breakers - all is forgotten the moment you twist the key and the V8 fires. This is a proper Italian grand tourer with one of the best engine notes on the planet. And the good news is you don’t have to be driving it hard for the real music to begin – even traveling at 60km/h will deliver Maserati’s hallmark bark.
It’s also surprisingly smooth and refined. The combination of sensitive throttle and smooth-shifting ZF transmission allows for comfortable traffic crawl speeds and effortless high-speed cruising, at least in the Auto Normal setting.
Hit the Sport button and the GranTurismo Sport quite literally changes its tune – from snarl to raucous roar. Give it the beans, and in a split second you’ll be rewarded with an exhaust note to rival an old-school Le Mans GT sports car.
Better still, Auto Sport mode also increases the shift speed by up to 40 per cent, but for the most engaging driving experience you’ll need to flick the shifter over to Manual Sport which puts you (the driver) in complete control of the six-speed gearbox.
At almost five metres long and two metres wide, the Maserati GranTurismo is a big coupe, but that doesn’t mean you can’t throw it into a few corners at a decent clip.
We pushed it hard on our private performance facility and it didn’t disappoint. The engine is pushed back behind the front axle, giving a 49 front/51 rear weight distribution, so even pushing hard, the car feels well balanced and predictable – something I wasn’t really expecting.
Thankfully, this Maserati still employs a hydraulic steering box, so there’s a beautifully natural weight to the steering and its pretty accurate and quick to respond.
It’s got big Brembo stoppers too, ventilated and cross-drilled, and while they will surely stop the Maser, they tend to feel a bit spongy under big loads, at least on track.
Ride comfort is generally excellent and befitting of a luxury GT is this class. Even when switching to the Sport setting, which stiffens up the adaptive suspension, there’s still plenty of compliance remaining in the system to iron out most of the bumps.
There are faster, more dynamic rivals, but few if any sound like a Maserati GranTurismo MC Sport, or offer this level of supreme comfort.
And of course, none can boast Neptune’s trident badge on their grille.
Click on the Photos tab for more images by Mitchell Oke.