Geneva: Maserati GranTurismo S

Maserati unleashes hardcore version of GT with 434bhp V8; boss reveals latest on plans for baby Maser

Those wishing for more power for the beautiful Maserati GranTurismo have got their wish with the launch of this latest addition to the Maserati range, the hardcore GranTurismo S.

The S is based on the mechanicals of the Alfa Romeo 8C, which is built at the Maserati factory, so engine capacity rises from 4.2 to 4.7 litres, increasing power from 399 to 434bhp at 7000rpm. It also uses a version of the 8C’s automated manual gearbox but with ‘MC-Shift’ technology to reduce shift-times. The new software means that once ‘Sport’ has been selected by the driver and more than 5500rpm and 80 per cent throttle are used, then shift times drop from 150milliseconds to just 100milliseconds, which is twice as quick as the 8C can achieve and matches the time the Ferrari 599 needs to swap gears.

Top speed rises to 184mph while the 0-62mph time drops from 5.1sec to 4.9sec. To help deal with this extra performance the brakes are significantly overhauled and feature six-piston aluminium calipers and dual-cast discs made of cast iron and aluminium. Other changes include different exhausts, a new wheel design and slight changes to the bodywork, with a more aggressive rear spoiler and sill extensions. Inside, the trim is changed for a combination of leather and Alcantara with better side bolsters for the seats.

The price of the S will be around 15 per cent more than the regular GranTurismo, so expect a list price close to £91,000 when UK deliveries start this autumn. The final figure will depend on the exact specification of UK cars: Skyhook damping will be available as an optional extra, and it won’t take much in the way of options to lift the price above £100,000, something that doesn’t seem to worry Maserati CEO Roberto Ronchi too much. ‘I see Maserati operating in a price range from 80-130,000 euros in the future,’ he told evo. ‘This is what customers expect a Maserati to cost. Customers are speccing their cars with options costing around 11 per cent of the list price.’ Apparently, Maserati is enjoying a significant number of conquest sales with the GranTurismo, chiefly from the Aston DB9 and Bentley Continental GT.

Meanwhile, there’s been much talk of a third model-line at Maserati, and Ronchi threw some new light on this exciting prospect: ‘We will decide on this within the next few weeks,’ he said, ‘but I expect it will be for a model costing around 80,000 euros in today’s prices. ‘At the moment one-third of my supply of parts comes from Ferrari and I expect this to continue with the new model. I also think we need to offer customers two different engines, rather than just today’s V8, and we are looking into what this new engine should be. But Ferrari will be pitching to build this new engine for us.’ evo understands the new engine is most likely to be a V6 but this has yet to be confirmed by Maserati.

‘It is important to me that all future Maserati’s continue to be in a 2+2 configuration,’ Ronchi continued, ‘and that will certainly be the case for the third model-line, as well as the convertible version of the GranTurismo.’

There had been talk of doing a 4x4 Maserati at one stage (previewed by the Kubang concept car at the Detroit show in 2003) but Ronchi now dismisses this. ‘Although it would fit perfectly into the Maserati brand, we will not do a 4x4. We do not have the technology within Fiat to do a model like this and it would take too long to develop, by which time the world might be moving to another sort of car layout and we could miss the SUV market. We cannot take that risk, we must concentrate on what we know best.’

Maserati has been slightly taken aback by demand for the Quattroporte and GranTurismo, and Ronchi is looking at ways to cut the time customers are having to wait for cars. ‘My aim is to achieve a waiting time of around six months as I think this is realistic for a Maserati. The current 12 months wait is too long. We will achieve this by introducing an extra shift and increasing production to 10,000 cars a year.’

Once the third model comes on stream, this could increase further to around 15,000 cars a year, which he says would be the limit at the Modena factory. These are exciting times for the marque. As Ronchi says, Maserati has only just ‘taken off’.

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