Coupe Special 3 - Maserati GranTurismo Sport

BY Azfar Hashim

Despite its age, the GranTurismo still has so much to make it highly desirable

Photos by Azfar Hashim

It takes a special person to actually appreciate a Maserati. Really.

Especially at a time like now, where every single driver looking for a large coupe has a long list of cars to choose from; namely the Germans, with the Porsche 911, BMW 6 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe to consider. People love these models simply because each of the manufacturers manage to squeeze so many goodies into their respective cars; to the point it might take you a year to read up on the instruction manual and another twelve years to actually come down to using all of the functions. And I even have some acquaintances who bought a certain car and did not even know it has a certain function until it was pointed out to them — “Oh, I didn’t know it could do that.”

And this is the type of buyers that should buy a Maserati instead. Yes, I think it’s no secret that Maserati cars do not offer much fancy items as seen as its German peers, but on the flipside, they make owning a sports car and driving it a very simple affair. Pleasurable, even.

You put the flip key into the ignition, twist the key and switch it on; then like a boxer exhaling to clear his lungs, ‘boom!’ goes the exhaust waking the entire neighbourhood up. You switch on the radio, adjust the volume, shift the gear stick from P to D, and off you go. You don’t see a barrage of unknown lights coming alive on the display, you don’t get a Bluetooth system that prompts you to pair your phone; with this last iteration of the current model GranTurismo, there’s nothing fanciful about it. And that’s what so charming about it.

Sure, the 911 has a barrage of buttons that perhaps could control everything right down to ordering Starbucks. The E-Class Coupe, I heard, even comes with its own loo in the boot. You know where I’m heading with this.

But not the GranTurismo. You open the door and you’re welcomed by a leather-everything interior; Italian luxury, so to speak, and in a nice opulent black with red inserts combo. The steering wheel is nicely sized too, and you must love how it was sculpted with ‘thumb rests’ on each side of the wheel to give you that racer feel.

The only car to provide ice for your drinks. Jokes aside, ICE stands for 'Increased Control & Efficiency'- reduces consumption, emissions and noise

The only car to provide ice for your drinks. Jokes aside, ICE stands for 'Increased Control & Efficiency'- reduces consumption, emissions and noise

All the control buttons are logically placed and clearly labeled. Unfortunately you can’t escape from the fact that the controls for the climate control and audio system seem, erm, a little out of touch (yes, pun intended). It doesn’t have the solidity and tactility seen in the Germans, plus on top of that, the multimedia screen’s resolution seem far behind compared to the sort found in a Porsche. Heck, even the Golf’s gotten a much better one. Even more surprising here is how it lacks a reverse camera; I don’t know about you, but if I’m driving a large $600k car, I would like to be able to see clearly what’s behind me as I reverse…

Moving on.

The seats are one of the car’s loveliest bit. You can see the intricacy of every stitch, it provides brilliant support in any driving situation and to give it a sporting edge, the front two seats are carbon fiber backed; that said, it’s easy to get all comfy.

Then at the back, two full-sized adults can easily get comfortable with more than enough head and legroom. It doesn’t feel upright or claustrophobic like in a 911, mind you — this is a proper grand tourer. In fact it’s all due to how, at 2,942 mm, the GranTurismo has the longest wheelbase compared to the Porsche 911 (2,450 mm), BMW 6 Series (2,855 mm) and E-Class Coupe (2,873 mm).

That comes with a compromise though. The GranTurismo has a relatively small boot; at 260-litres, it’s quite a far cry from the 6 Series’ 460-litres. Which means for long distance, cross-border trips you either travel light or share bags.

In a current world where downsized, force-fed powerplants have become a norm, the GranTurismo’s 4.7-litre V8 is a welcomed treat. Paired to a 6-speed ZF-sourced transmission, maximum output is rated at 453 bhp while maximum torque a respectable 520 Nm. Standstill to 100 km/h needs only 4.8 seconds, which is a respectable figure given its size and almost 1.9-tonne kerbweight.

So before nature-loving authorities take full control and ban that 4.7-litre engine, it is best to just enjoy it for as long as you could. This car isn’t slow, and the way it goes about doing its business, my word, is a real joy. Driving from one end of this island to the other, twice, in a day is a breeze and you do it with so much superiority, class and finesse. You hardly have to work the gearbox and engine hard just to out-accelerate those puny roadhogs on the expressway; some extra pressure on the accelerator and next thing you know, you’re already leaving that said car in your dust.

Driving it in the KPE/MCE in Sport is highly addictive. As the button suggests, pressing it will simply stiffen the car’s suspension, make the engine a little aggressive and — best of all — adds more decibel to the exhaust note. Hold it in third and fourth — by simply pushing the gear shifter to manual select mode and use the large paddle-shifter — and be prepared to hear one of the most glorious noise ever made in this lifetime. This is as good as it gets.

While its handling department is hard to fault, you cannot deny how it still lacks the agility a 911 could easily deliver. However, it’s still sensational as you take corner after corner and actually feel the car communicating directly to you; the steering feel, the body movements and, in Sport mode, you just need to listen to shift the gear up or down. The anchors are responsive with incredibly positive feel too.

Realistically speaking, the Maserati GranTurismo Sport is a true hero. It has its flaws - mainly its interior - and the $600k asking price could easily buy you either a brand new Porsche 911 GTS or BMW M6 Coupe. But seriously, this Italian grand tourer delivers far more character, personality and allure.

So as I’ve said earlier, buy it while you still can.