Maserati Granturismo Convertible
Paul A. Eisenstein
From the Print Edition:
Jim Nantz, May/June 2011
It isn't easy to turn heads at the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance—that celebration of the world's most desirable metal. But few cars have the visual stopping power of the new Maserati GranTurismo Convertible.
The latest edition from the Modena manufacturer only enhances Maserati's long-running reputation for rolling out beautiful, distinctive automobiles. Were styling all that mattered, Maserati might long ago have become one of the world's best-selling luxury brands. Now, to our great satisfaction, the GranTurismo Convertible also delivers in terms of practicality and—hold your breath—reliability. It is, hard to believe, an Italian exotic that one can use every day without keeping a mechanic in permanent employ.
We were headed to Florida to take in the classics, but found ourselves spending every possible moment driving this Sophia Loren of the automotive world. Its voluptuous, almost erotic, shape taunts you to run your fingers over its curves. Like Loren, this is no svelte supermodel. The GranTurismo has the longest wheelbase in a class that includes the BMW 6-Series and Bentley Continental GT. That gives it both a commanding road presence and, from a more functional standpoint, a back seat that actually can accommodate two adults.
The cabin is as sleek an example of Italian design as one might hope to find. Our pearlescent-white test car's exterior was matched with lipstick red leather. In stark contrast to current trends, Maserati skipped the me-too, high-tech controller, opting for individual knobs, buttons and instruments that are somehow able to avoid a cluttered look.
One of those toggles operates the canvas top in just 20 seconds—quick enough to turn al fresco while waiting at a stoplight. When up, the three-layer design minimizes road noise. Yet lowered, it still leaves room for a large weekender tote—or a standard-issue golf bag.
The cabriolet is one of the most solid and shake-free convertibles we've experienced, thanks to a variety of hidden trusses and buttresses. But there's little sense of extra heft, something that has squeezed the life out of other convertibles. The GT Convertible's 4.7-liter V-8 is mated to a six-speed ZF automatic gearbox. For those who'd like a stick, the paddle shifters do a surprising job of replicating manual mode. No, at 433 horsepower, Maserati's offering is neither the most powerful nor fastest in its class, but that's insignificant unless you measure your world with a stopwatch. And, besides, stomping on the throttle unleashes a wonderful rush of torque and a luscious roar as the exhaust bypass opens.
We've always had a passion for Maserati design. But with the GranTurismo Convertible, all the other functional details suddenly fall into place. And better yet, at $146,825, it's decidedly less expensive than we'd expect for something so exclusive and well equipped. No wonder the new cabriolet is proving to be the most popular offering in the brand's long history.
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