Maserati Spikes Luxury Gran Slam
Maserati released its GranCabrio car in Rome next the heaviest snowstorm for 30 years. Twenty-four hours later the streets were mostly clear, and we were begging to drop the top for the time of our drive. For Maserati was intense to demonstrate it could construct a four-seat convertible with the luxurious exclusivity of this car's GranTurismo sibling, with no compromising the brawny performance.
Here's the new.
The engine is the same 4.7-litre V8 as the GranTurismo, so there's 323kW put to the rear wheels at 7000rpm, and 490Nm at 4650rpm. There's the similar ZF auto transmission too, albeit with customized software. But the vital platform has been modified for the drop-top car, with concentration paid to airflow beneath and, certainly, to stiffening. Beefier sills, a torsion wall at the back the rear seats, braces across the engine bay and an enclosed roof compartment add heaviness, but offset the structural compromise of lifting the roof.
The company line
GranCabrio will compete with BMW 6 Series cabrio, the Jaguar XKR cabrio, and Aston DB9 Volante, though price also suggests the Merc SL and the four seats pitch it against the Bentley GTC.
This segment withered with the recession, but Maserati didn't suffer as much as some.
Still, it's not expecting record sales this year, with a target of seven GranCabrio at $338,000 each.
What we say
This car has been tested in New Zealand. Young Federico Landini - vehicle integration manager tech and testing - racked up a few speeding tickets when testing at Cardrona's snow farm last year. He also hit so many rabbits he was tempted to add fighter plane-style kill scores to his car's flanks.
Clearly it was worth it. The GranCabrio feels assured, from its gorgeously appointed cabin to its build quality; from its now-proven powertrain to the stiffness of its body.
That body looks fantastic, roof up or down. Maserati chose three-layer fabric, yet soundproofing is acceptable even at speed.
Landini says that at the car's Frankfurt reveal, his Bentley GTC equivalent came over and said "your roof is better than ours; did you get a pay rise?"
On the road
The cabrio feels impressively stiff, even over the lurid lumps and bumps of a Portuguese back road, yet the ride remains reasonable thanks to the continuously adaptive Skyhook suspension.
Our drive suggests the GranCabrio's performance is impressively close to the coupe - which says as much about the latter's broad-brush focus as it does about the skills of Maser's engineers. Both the GranTurismo and GranCabrio are handicapped by their weight - this car tips the scales at 1980kg - but acceleration remains brisk, with a 0-100 time of 5.3 seconds.
Press the sport button for quicker gear changes, stiffer suspenders - and to re-route the exhaust to liberate a magnificent chest-beating roar. It sounds best with the roof down - front passengers at least get undisturbed air.
Why you'll buy one
It's special, it's gorgeous, and it sounds amazing; push that sport button for aural sex on wheels.
Why you won't
You want to bring four and baggage, yet the 173-litre boot imply the rear pews must also bring bags. You want a glower, sprightlier vehicle. And you can't agree the stated 15.4l/100km thirst.