Maserati Gran Turismo

The brand new Maserati Gran Turismo was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2007. In early April, it made its first appearance in North America at the new York Motor Show. This magnificent sports car replaces the Maserati Coupe, whose career is reaching an end after five years of loyal service.

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The Maserati’s return to the forefront happened in the late ’90s, because of the intervention of Fiat, which associated the trident brand with Ferrari, its rival since the ’50s. In 2005, Maserati rejoined Fiat, which has since invested great sums of cash to further develop the Italian company.

The Maserati Gran Turismo’s silhouette was designed by none aside from the good Pininfarina, to whom we also owe the fabulous Maserati Quattroporte 2004. The linkage is obvious and, at first glance, it unveils seductive and harmonious curves. Its long nose lends a touch of aggressiveness to its personality and echoes the classic lines of the Maserati A6 GCS from the early ’50s. No detail was overlooked for the interior, and the stylistic mastery it reveals could make a Milanese fashion designer jealous. You must be Italian to be able to mix elegance and bold designs so brilliantly. Outfitted in red leather, the cockpit provides ample space for rear passengers. For esthetes, Maserati will soon release a set of luggage to match, custom designed by Salavatore Ferragamo.

The Gran Turismo shares the identical engine with the Quattroporte 2007, a 4.2-liter mid-front mounted 90-degree V8, delivering maximum power of 405 hp at 7,100 rpm and maximum torque of 460 Nm at 4,750 rpm. This new-generation power unit allows for lightning accelerations, while specializing in driving comfort and better mileage. The stainless steel melody performed by the eight cylinders should delight speed and music lovers alike, even if Maserati has, again, chosen to practice some restraint. It will conveniently allow future owners to come back home late at night without waking up the help. The new 6-speed automatic transmission is a superb improvement over the previous models, and allows the gears to shift at higher revs (7200 rpm) than its direct competition. It goes from 0 to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds, and its maximum speed is 285 km/h.

Thanks to a near-optimal weight distribution (49% front — 51% rear), the Gran Turismo’s balance and handling are without reproach. It will certainly outshine the Maserati Coupe – despite the latter’s great qualities – by energetically asserting the specificity of the trident brand. Compared with other sports cars in its category – the Aston Martin Vantage, the Jaguar XKR and the BMW M6 – it distinguishes itself with an original body that’s as much an homage to Maserati’s sporty esthetic as to the great names of Italian fashion. Maserati’s CEO has admitted that the firm should double its production capability over the next five years, to achieve a volume of 12,000 cars per year by 2012, thereby allowing the firm to free itself from Fiat’s financial support. Until then, the Gran Turismo may well become a classic on par with its prestigious older sisters.

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