You know when you’ve found a good book. It’s the one you just can’t put down because you’ve got to get onto the next chapter and the chapter after that to get over each cliffhanger. Before you know it, you’ve reached the final page and allow yourself a satisfied sigh, knowing the baddie got his just deserts.
There’s nothing to beat a page turner and it’s great when one falls into your lap unexpectedly. I didn’t know what the plot might be before I got my hands on the latest Granturismo Sport from Maserati. Certainly the name is exciting – brimming full of Italian promise. But I’ve been left a little disappointed with some automotive Latin lovelies in the past. What I didn’t expect is just how much the Maserati was like the very readable book but, instead of being a page turner, this caught every bystander’s attention and certainly turned their heads. That’s quite an achievement these days because there’s so much good stuff on the roads that it’s really only committed petrolheads who can spot something interesting. Unless it’s something that looks or sounds sensational – and that’s exactly what the latest Granturismo achieves, leaving other motorists and pedestrians spinning in its wake.
It’s the Sport version of the GT which has been one of the most successful cars in Maserati’s history, with more than 15,000 taking to the world’s roads since 2007. The US is by far the biggest market, ahead of China and, of course, at home in Italy, where the company is part of the giant Fiat conglomerate. This new version refines the model’s sporting character to make it really special on the open road. Before you even get going, though, you have to savour its looks. It’s got a beautiful body and the test car came in a stunning shade of Blue Sofisticato with black alloys to give it great presence, even at a standstill. Once you get going, it certainly doesn’t hang about, thundering with a delicious rasp from a standing start to over 60 miles an hour in under five seconds. Top speed is almost 190mph.
Under the bonnet there’s the latest evolution of Maserati’s all-alloy 4.7-litre V8 engine which pushes out more than 450 bhp of power. The silky smooth six-speed automatic transmission is a delight and things really start to happen when you hit the Sport button and then use the huge steering column-mounted paddles to go up and down the box. The active damping system keeps things under control and, importantly, you know everything will come to a halt when you hit the dual-cast brakes.
The great sound of this car is down to the car’s large oval exhausts which take the natural engine note and accentuate it when the Sport button is activated. This diverts the exhaust gases down a shorter route to the back end and generates a rich, intense growl. It’s a wonderful package and simply reinforces the overall experience. Externally, the biggest change is at the front. The headlights now incorporate daytime running LEDs and adaptive lights which track the steering wheel round corners by up to 15 degrees. There’s the traditional huge gaping grille with the chromed Maserati Trident taking pride of place in the centre, its red accents the only clue that this is one of the most powerful Maseratis.
The interior layout is very good but while the traditional analogue clock in the centre of the dash is lovely, it really should be angled more towards the driver. From the driving seat, the raised wheel arches are prominent and the car is actually a lot wider than it seems. Side skirts are standard on the Sport to increase aerodynamic efficiency along with enlarged side grilles to extract hot air from the engine.
I had the car for only two days and found myself thinking of excuses to take it out. In the end I gave up trying to justify it and just went for a drive looking for some of the best country roads around central Scotland to let it and me enjoy ourselves.
This is a pure-bred Italian without the flamboyance, or price tag, of a Ferrari or a Lamborghini. It is expensive but you’re guaranteed a great experience. Be warned though, you will be noticed.
CAR Maserati Granturismo Sport
PRICE £90,750 (£101,610 as tested)
CO2 EMISSIONS 331g/km
PERFORMANCE Top speed 186 mph. 0-62 mph 4.7 secs
FUEL CONSUMPTION (combined) 19.7mpg