Has Maserati lost its mind? Barely a year after the keener and more agile ‘S’ corrected exactly what the limp-wristed original GranTurismo got wrong, the flagship has been softened up with a slush ’box.
The culprit is a six-speed ZF automatic – the same as fitted to the standard 4.2-litre car, as well as the sublime Quattroporte GTS. Gone is the rear-mounted, sequential-shift, robotised-manual transaxle, replaced by an old-school torque converter, bolted directly to the engine. So front/rear weight distribution now tips towards the nose, from 47/53 to 49/51, while adaptive Skyhook dampers take the place of stiffer fixed-rate units.
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Whereas the robotised manual does a rather unconvincing impression of an automatic, the ZF ’box is beautifully smooth, melting the ratios into a one continuous wave of torque. Engage manual mode and you’re handed a surprising amount of control – there’s no kick-down whatsoever and it’ll sit on the rev-limiter until you tug the right-hand paddle.
Thumb the button marked ‘Sport’ and shift times are cut by 40 per cent – still no match for the automated manual’s thumping 100 millisecond cog-swap, but entirely adequate for the most part. Downshifts are accompanied by a flamboyant blip of the throttle, although in keeping with the car’s more subdued nature the full war cry only kicks in above 3000rpm, when the exhaust baffles open, offering the hot gases a less impeded route to the atmosphere.
The 4.7-litre engine is as sweet and charismatic as ever, but it could still do with more mid-range punch. Compared with the XKR’s new supercharged V8, the pick-up from low revs can be sluggish, even taking into account the Maser’s 1880kg kerb weight.
In bends the electronic dampers do a good job of resisting roll, but show it a meandering road and it’s quickly apparent that this is not a sports car. In fact that’s no bad thing. The GranTurismo will always be a true GT at heart, which is why this combination of the most potent engine hooked up to a more sedate gearbox fits the car so perfectly.
|Max power||433bhp @ 7000rpm|
|Max torque||361lb ft @ 4750rpm|
|Top speed||183mph (claimed)|
|On sale||July 2009|