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New piston-powered Maserati GranTurismo driven


Sometimes, if I find myself at a loose end, I’ll nostalgically flick through the dusty pile of old car magazines stacked at the end of my bookshelf. The last time I did this, my eyes were drawn to a 1998 issue of Autocar emblazoned with the words “FIRST DRIVE: NEW MASERATI” alongside the image of a 3200GT in Azzuro Argentina Blue on the front cover.

Having just returned from my own first drive in the new Maserati GranTurismo, I immediately leafed through the pages until I found Peter Robinson’s road test on page 36. Cue déjà vu. “Maserati’s renewal begins with the 3200GT,” Robinson wrote. “It returns the Trident to its rightful place as one of the world’s great marques.” Suffice to say, the 3200GT didn’t quite live up to what was forecast. 

A quarter of a century later, and the new GranTurismo is the latest precursor to the marque’s supposedly imminent revival, just as its own predecessor was in 2007. As a lifelong fan of the brand, I take no pleasure in such cynicism, but it’s a necessary disclaimer in case someone reads this in 25 years’ time.

Why the need for a disclaimer? Well, at long last, Maserati really does seem to be back to its brilliant best. The resurgence started in 2020, when the stunning MC20 supercar came out of nowhere to widespread acclaim. The new GranTurismo builds on that momentum.

As with the MC20, the new GranTurismo is a car that looks so much better in the metal. With its long bonnet, voluptuous curves and swooping roofline, its classical proportions are pure GT car. Yet Klaus Busse’s conservative design work belies what a radical step forward the new GranTurismo is.

First there’s the chassis, which is made from a combination of magnesium and aluminium for lightness, and steel for strength. Electric Folgore version aside, the most radical development can be seen in the powertrain. 

Open that huge clamshell bonnet, and you’ll see that the mellifluous Ferrari V8 has been replaced by a detuned version of the 3.0-litre Nettuno V6 used in the MC20 hypercar. The new engine sits nestled behind the front axle and is paired with ZF’s excellent eight-speed automatic transmission. In another break from tradition, power is sent through all four wheels. 

There are two new combustion models to choose from. The Modena is the tamer of the two and generates 483bhp, accelerates from 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds and maxes out at 187mph. With 542bhp on tap, the Trofeo steps things up a notch and can sprint from 0-62mph in 3.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 199mph. 

Climb into the driver’s seat, and you’re greeted by swathes of Italian leather, thick carpet and aluminium trim that’s cool to the touch. Your eyes are then drawn to the centre of the dashboard, where you’ll see a modern, digitised version of the classic Maserati clock and a responsive two-part infotainment screen. A bright, clear and crisp driver’s display screen is found behind the steering wheel. Interior space is far better than you might expect with back seats that are genuinely usable. I’m 6ft tall and can sit comfortably in the back behind my own driving position.

Said driving position is perfect, and the seats strike the perfect balance between supportiveness and comfort. You sit low with the steering wheel at chest height, and the alloy pedals are positioned perfectly. The steering wheel and wonderfully tactile shift paddles will be familiar to anyone who has driven a modern Alfa Romeo – but that’s no bad thing.

Stab the starter button, and the twin-turbo V6 barks into life. Within minutes, it’s obvious that the new car simply can’t compete with the spine-tingling sound produced by its eight-piston predecessor. The V6 emits a gruff, almost diesel-like tone at low rpm, but the soundtrack improves dramatically once you explore the upper reaches of the rev range. Even so, the soundtrack is compensated for with performance and efficiency that are far beyond what the naturally aspirated V8 could offer.

Standard-fit air-sprung double-wishbone and multi-link suspension with adaptive damping mean the ride is supple enough for the potholed roads of northern Italy but firms up nicely when you’re pushing on. 

As a 1795kg GT car, the Maserati feels far more at home inhaling mile after mile of autostrada than it does being hustled down the tendrils of an Alpine pass. Yet four-wheel drive, a 52:48 weight distribution and accurate steering make it a far more capable car than you might expect. 

So, which to choose: the entry-level Modena or the more powerful Trofeo? Surprisingly, the difference between them in the real world is far smaller than the Trofeo’s extra 70bhp and electronic differential might suggest. For me, the more understated Modena is the pick of the range.

Whichever powertrain you choose, the GranTurismo proves that, at long last, Maserati is back.

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