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Mon 31 Oct 2011 03:58 PM

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Maserati shows some muscle with new GranTurismo

With a price tag of AED475,000, Maserati’s GranTurismo S ticks all the boxes

Maserati shows some muscle with new GranTurismo
Meet the streamlined Maserati GranTurismo S

When Maserati launched the GranTurismo four years
ago, there were those amid the motoring fraternity that felt a more hardcore
version was needed.

While the car lacked nothing for drivers who simply
wanted to be seen in one of the best looking Italian sportcars ever penned,
hardcore drivers felt the car lacked the edge they’d come to expect from a
marque that made its name in motorsport.

It appears Maserati’s engineers agreed because they
produced this: the Maserati GranTurismo S – a car with more mid-range punch,
better weight distribution and improved suspension than the base-model. The
three ingredients every ultimate driving machine needs.

Like the GranCabrio we tested a few weeks ago, the
GranTurismo uses the Ferrari-built 4.7-litre V8 (it shares the same cylinder
block as the Ferrari F430 and Alfa Romeo 8C) to produce 433bhp at a scary
7,000rpm. What’s even more impressive is that the engine’s torque curve is much
flatter – giving the car more pulling power for longer.

It sounds fantastic too. Prod the sport button and
the car activates valves which bypass part of the exhaust system, releasing a
throaty rumble and an additional 10bhp.

The Sport button also activates ‘MC-Shift’
gearchanges; manual cog-swapping at over 5500rpm via the steering column
mounted shift levers and the car’s semi-automatic transmission. In a departure
from the standard GT, the GT-S transmission is mounted between the rear axles
which not only improves overall weight distribution, but helps the MC-Shift
system to deliver lightning-fast gearchanges. It does this by overlapping
clutch movements, much like the Ferrari F1-Superfast   gearbox found in the Ferrari 599 GTB
Fiorano.

Maserati’s engineers have also tightened the car’s
suspension. The car sits lower on springs that are five percent stiffer, while
the Bilstein dampers have also been beefed up to cope with the rigours of
sportier driving. The rear anti-roll bar is thicker too, which is designed to
help anchor the rear and improve front-end precision, while the 20-inch alloys
and spray thin rubber are also intended to produce huge amounts of grip on dry
tarmac.

The result is a leaner, meaner Maserati with the
kind of power, performance and poise hardcore petrolheads crave. Acceleration
is brutal and, with sport mode selected, manual changes are sublimely smooth as
the naturally aspirated V8 roars past 6000rpm. The column-mounted paddle
shifters take some getting used to on twisty roads because they force you to
take one hand off the wheel to change gears. It’s not a problem that many will
encounter, particularly on the arrow-straight motorways of the UAE – but there
are occasions when you’d prefer the paddles followed your hands instead.

The GT-S is a staggering sportscar that delivers on
the promise that the original GT made. It’s lighter, more nimble, fast and
brutal when required. It’s also gorgeous – a far more attractive package than
the 599 GTB.

The only real question is whether you opt for the
GT-S or the mechanically identical GranCabrio. Given that the transmission and
roof rob you of boot-space in the drop top, the choice is obvious.

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