Maserati Grand Turismo 2006 Review
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Almost every sportscar worth its fuel bill has a sports button. Few, however, have one as effective as the GranSport's.
Punch the button on the centre console and Dr Jekyll becomes Mr Hyde — but watch out, this one can really bite.
Choosing the sport option alters not only the engine and transmission mapping — sharpening shift responses and change points — but winds down the suspension to tooth-rattling firmness while pushing the traction control "nanny" further into the background as well as adding an extra edge to the steering sharpness.
The final touch is an aural treat. An electronically controlled pneumatic valve system opens the exhaust and turns the pussycat purr from the 295kW 4.2-litre V8 into a jungle rumble.
The sound of the engine blipping on downshifts is grand, almost enough to make you forgive the super-aggressive 6-speed Cambiocorsa transmission.
The wheel-mounted paddles come easily to hand — not that common in the world of F1-styled paddle-shifts — and that is good, as there is no other option for manual shifting. However, it is the thumping aggression of the changes that make using the clutchless manual-style box either a love-it or hate-it proposition. You can opt to select the auto button but, while that frees you from paddle-work, the gearbox retains its attitude.
While the sport mode does give the GranSport a true performance character, in reality it is impossible to live with for any length of time on the average Sydney road surface. Keep it as a special treat to be savoured in those focussed moments.
Aesthetically, the Maserati GranSport loses nothing to its rivals. All Italian from the trident mounted on the mesh grille under its purposeful Roman nose to the flaring flanks, it is a fine example of what elicits passion in automobile aficionados. But slide inside and the experience is truly enhanced.
The interior is welcoming and encompassing with extremely comfortable sports seats, a steering wheel with leather on the main grip areas and a squared-off carbon fibre top with an embedded silver centering mark.
The small central lever, with its lift-and-pull action for reverse, is a bit twee for the car.
The seat insert and trim material is both stylish — it should be, having been developed by a leading Italian fashion house — and effective at providing seat-of-the-pants grip.
However, it is not all chianti and aged parmesan. There are some things — important things — that really should be better in a car of this stature. Potentially the most critical is the relationship of the accelerator to the brake. In the reverse of what is ideal, the accelerator pedal sits proud of the brake making it not uncommon to catch it with the outside of the foot on the way to the brake.
A surge when retardation is needed can really get adrenalin flowing. Problem solved if you left-foot brake — but in reality, that is just a way around an issue that shouldn't exist.
Annoying, but not as crucial, is the difficulty reaching some of the comfort controls set back in the stylishly scalloped centre console.
The squashed top on the steering wheel also has a way of obscuring the upper areas of the instrument panel.
But back to the good stuff. The biggest improvement in the new GranSport is in the steering feel. Previously an area in which Maserati trailed its natural rivals by some distance, it is now on a par with most and close to the best.
Range and Specs
|(base)||4.2L, PULP, 6 SP SEQ||$42,100 – 53,900||2007 Maserati Granturismo 2007 (base) Pricing and Specs|