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Maserati GranTurismo 2008 review

Actions speak louder than words and when we took the GranTurismo away for a weekend, we found it had a way of dominating proceedings.

Everybody wanted to know what it was, how much it cost and whether they could have their photo taken with the car _ whether they were interested in cars or not.

And they wanted to know how long we'd had it?

I wish . . .

I'd expected the questions and had come prepared.

Suffice to say the big `Maser' has a mystique that extends beyond the bounds of mere metal, a car that commands attention wherever it goes _ some welcome, some not so welcome.

More than just a car, it's the ultimate male fashion accessory _ a piece of automotive exotica that's going to make you look and feel like a million dollars.

At more than $300,000 the GranTurismo is not the most expensive car that Maserati sells here, but we'd have no hesitation in adding that it's the best looking of the bunch.

Gone is the droopy, retro, overly round styling that marked previous models, along with that awkward looking rear end, replaced by a long sleek coupe with classic sports car lines.

The two door, four-seat coupe replaces the previous GranSport, but sits on the longer Quattroporte platform.

Measuring 4881mm and weighing in at a hefty 1880kg, the oh so long bonnet hides a 4.2-litre Ferrari V8 that pumps out 298kW of power and 460Nm of torque, revving out to 7250rpm.

The engine is a derivative of that in the Ferrari F430 and is teamed with a ZF six-speed automatic transmission that allows the driver to change gears manually.

The main difference between the two engines is that the Maserati unit has a wet sump and produces more torque.

Despite its obvious bulk the GranTurismo can dispatch the dash from 0-100km/h in just 5.2 seconds and on to a lofty top speed of 285km/h.

Punch the throttle and the throaty V8 roars to life, the rear hunkers down and the car squirms before launching regardless of the electronics.

We've driven faster, but none with more style than this thoroughbred.

The driver can choose between manual, sport auto or fully automatic gears changes, with no need to chase the padded paddle shifts around the steering wheel as they are fixed to the steering column.

Pushing the sport button activates a more aggressive change pattern, as well as altering the suspension and stability control settings.

We were surprised to find however that the transmission still changes up automatically when redline is reached, even in full manual mode.

The auto is said to be even quicker than Ferrari's and so much more enjoyable than the horrendous robotised manual offered previously.

Rather than a hard-edged sports machine, the GranTurismo is more of a big luxurious cruiser, with plenty of power on tap for the odd squirt.

Out on the open highway it laps up the miles, but a firm foot is required on the throttle or you could find the pace dropping off.

Fuel consumption from the 86 litre tank is rated at 14.3 litres/100km and it takes premium unleaded, preferably the good stuff.

We were getting 14.7 over a 700km stint.

The car's charcoal exterior did not prepare us for the gorgeous red leather interior.

While contoured and comfortable, the seats were rather firm and so was the electronically modulated Skyhook suspension.

Parking the car at fuel stops provided plenty of entertainment as wide-eyed country folk circled the vehicle for a better look, peering through the windows to get a better look inside.

Doing the obligatory lap of the town centre never failed to attract attention either, as did parking it outside the pub.

It's a difficult one to go past.

I don't know why they bother fitting sound systems to cars like this, the note from the V8 is the all the accompaniment one needs.

But if it does grate there's a 30GB hard drive based unit to store your songs, shared with the standard navigation system.

Dropping down a couple of gears and pushing the car hard through long sweeping corners and a series of shorter switchbacks found plenty of grip from the 20inch wheels, fitted with 245 front and 285 35 rear 35 series rubber.

But it can become unsettled and is not totally at home on our second rate back roads.

The four pot Brembos provide solid braking, but some bigger units would be nice.

We were loathe to take the car on any dirt roads as the low profile tyres are prone to puncture and there is no spare tyre, just a puncture repair kit to reinflate the damaged tyre _ a space saver is optional.

Getting in and out of the deep set back seats can be challenging and rear legroom is not generous.

The front seats slide forward electrically to provide access.

The boot is on the small side but can still hold a couple of bags.

All in all this is a much more refined mainstream car than previous models.

But why not just buy a Ferrari, we wondered?

Price is one obvious reason and the fact they appeal to two very different kinds of buyers.

Even at $306,750 plus onroads, the GranTurismo is still 127 grand less than the cheapest Ferrari.

Style is another reason, because the GranTurismo is a true GT tourer with seating for four people.

And after all, it's all about style.

Pricing guides

Based on 5 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
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Range and Specs

(base) 4.2L, PULP, 6 SP SEQ $44,300 – 55,990 2008 Maserati Granturismo 2008 (base) Pricing and Specs
S 4.7L, PULP, 6 SP SEQ AUTO $62,600 – 79,090 2008 Maserati Granturismo 2008 S Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide


Lowest price, based on 5 car listings in the last 6 months

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