Thick, grey skies cast an unseasonal, dank inclemency over late March, brightened only by the pristine white snow and the brilliant blueness of the high performance coupe resting on the driveway.
The hue of the beautifully curvaceous bodywork may have hinted at a Gallic racing heritage but the dominant trident insignia mounted boldly at the centre of its gapingly aggressive grille confirmed this was a product of Italian origin, from the Maserati stable.
Calling a car a GT is one of the easiest tricks in the book for persuading customers to part with more of their hard-earned wallet padding than they’d bargained for, but the Maserati GranTurismo Sport is no marketing sleight of hand. This is a car to reclaim the name from the gaming generation.
Enveloping a spacious cabin for four in such a low-slung and achingly desirable design is an achievement in itself. Combining this with outrageous speed and, when desired, a surprisingly compliant ride quality, allows the GranTurismo to not simply cross continents, but conquer them.
The Sport version debuted in 2012, updating the six year old GranTurismo, which remains one of Pininfarina’s greatest styling successes. Cues were developed from the hardcore MC Stradale model: its ferocious, rear view mirror dominating face further revised with LEDs and cornering functionality incorporated into the headlights. Side sill extensions marry the flanks between the billowing wheel arches, whilst the rear remains pert and focused. Darker shading of the tail light lenses differentiates the Sport further still.
Twist the key in the ignition barrel and all 454 horses under that long bonnet stamp their authority in unison, bellowing out of the enormous exhausts protruding suggestively from the rear bumper. Reach for the all-too tempting Sport button on the dashboard to raise the revs and increase the loud pedal’s responsiveness. Pull the automatic gear lever back and jink left to engage a further Sport setting, ease the carbon fibre gear paddle towards you with your right hand and stamp on the throttle to unleash automotive drama.
Eight cylinders scream to their 7200rpm maximum as the rear wheels scrabble for traction, laying a thick pair of black rubber lines as the getaway is on. 4.7-litres of naturally aspirated power is like a sledgehammer blow, thrusting you firmly into the supportive sports seats as the view ahead suddenly becomes an ever-shrinking image in the delicately mounted door mirrors. Even when you stop your pursuit at the legal limit, you know there’s so much more performance waiting to be unleashed.
Make no mistake, this is no one trick pony with drag strip potential, the Sport revisions to the GranTurismo’s chassis bestow it with effortlessly adjustable handling that allows any driver to look a hero by easing the tail out in a controllable manner.
Heavier steering feel makes you feel at one with the Maserati on B-roads, fully engaging you in the driving experience it offers. Drop a cog or two into a corner and the engine burbles intoxicatingly as you disappear towards the horizon.
When more sedation is required, switch off Sport mode and the suspension softens, the engine relaxes a little to complement it and the gears change automatically. Perfect for purring through city centres garnering admiring glances.
The perfect car? Not quite.
Although powerful, the brakes lack ultimate feel and the boot’s a little tight for four passengers’ luggage, but make no mistake, even at just north of £100,000, with options fitted, the Maserati GranTurismo Sport provides pleasure and involvement that others twice the price can’t match. Excitement awaits.
Maserati’s GranTurismo range starts at £82,255 for the 4.2-litre V8 rising to £110,110 for the MC Stradale version.
Model: Maserati GranTurismo Sport MC Shift Auto
Top speed: 185mph
Combined cycle fuel consumption: 19.7mpg
CO2 Band/Cost: M/£490
Engine size: V8/4691cc fuel injected petrol
Boot space: 260l
Price (before options): £90,785 (April 2013)
All photographs © Keith WR Jones 2013
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