Wrong engine. Wrong driveline. Wrong tires. Wrong interior. Wrong Maserati. The paper case didn’t stack up the way I wanted it to when the details about the new GranTurismo started to come to light. And the morning that i was meant to drive the thing, starting in Rome and heading north on ancient and beautiful roads, the case being offered up by the real deal wasn’t looking great, either.
Despite its undeniable elegance in the courtyard of a stunning Roman spa, the 2024 Maserati GranTurismo Trofeo that I’d been assigned to had a lot to answer for.
To start, there was the sound of the thing on a frigid (by Roman standards) morning. Yes, the twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 “Nettuno” engine may have offered up its credentials as the motivating force behind Maserati’s latest sublime supercar, the MC20, but it also sounded a little like well-tuned German diesel in the cold morning air. Nothing like, in other words, the low melodic hum of a naturally aspirated V8.
Complicating matters were the gaps between the top of the front tires (snow tires, if you can believe the indignity) and the perfectly arched wheel wells: a telltale sign, however slight, of an all-wheel-drive coupe. Can you imagine? Sure, Maserati has been trading in artfully tuned all-wheelers for years now, but the storied GranTurismo should be a pure, rear-drive expression of Italianate good taste and power slides, right?
Worst of all was the ample cabin – dammit I’m going to call it futuristic – that seemed to boast not only room for four reasonably sized adults, but a futuristic combination of big touchscreens, configurable displays, and adaptive controls. Practically zero clockwork gears quietly tickling; no charmingly misshapen runs of stitching winking from the corner of a seat bolster.
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|Quick Stats||2024 Maserati GranTurismo Trofeo|
|Engine:||Twin-Turbocharged 3.0-Liter V6|
|Output:||550 Horsepower / 479 Pound-Feet|
|0-62 MPH:||3.5 Seconds|
|Top Speed:||199 MPH|
Gallery: 2024 Maserati GranTurismo: First Drive
Proof On The Road
Despite all of the evident concessions to modernity, and more probably because of them, this new Maserati GranTurismo has been shaped into a very complete, very competitive super luxury sports coupe. As I drove, and the cold morning turned warmer in the dazzling Etruscan sunlight, it became clear that real sporting character hadn’t been lost in the effort to build a contemporary vehicle.
It’s fair to say that the new turbo V6 can’t sing in the same choir as the naturally aspirated, 4.7-liter V8 that powered the last GT I drove (more than a decade ago). But the engine does sound tremendously better underway than it did in the cold courtyard.
Maserati is rightly proud of the engine, which makes 550 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque in this top-level Trofeo-trim car (483 hp and 443 lb-ft in the base Modena version). Not only does it drive the rear-biased all-wheel-drive car to 62 miles per hour in just three and a half seconds, it actually sounds downright mean (if not euphonious) while approaching its 6,500 rpm redline. My long drive route included stretches through long tunnels and along old stone walls, all of which echoed the tough exhaust note back at me in compelling ways.
Even in the rather laid-back GT drive mode, the throttle pedal proved quite responsive to every fraction of angle I dialed in with my left foot. Switch the dial over to Sport or Corsa (where all electronic aids are turned off and the computer is programmed to say a little prayer for your soul) and that go pedal becomes downright addicting to play with on the winding country roads.
Default transmission selection happens by way of centrally mounted buttons on the center console – I don’t love them, and swapping from fully automatic Drive to paddle-shifting Manual often took two stabs. But getting to use the paddles is well worth the effort. Up and downshifts crack off rapidly by way of the long, easy-to-grab paddles, and driver involvement skyrockets as a result. For in-town driving or on the few stretches of highway I sampled, letting the eight-speed auto do its thing proved inoffensive, too.
Any Corner, Any Time
Weighing in at about 4,000 pounds, I had no Earthly reason to expect the GranTurismo to feel especially agile. Good thing the ultra-rigid body structure, smart chassis tuning, and nearly invisible all-wheel-drive system were there to prove me wrong.
The Maserati felt completely at home hammering hard through tightly wound roads, over all manner of weird surfacing (are the cobblestones coming up through the asphalt?). The car corners like a rear-driven machine on turn-in and entry, but the accelerative punch on corner exit betrays the four-wheel propulsion.
That’s all despite the cars wearing winter-rated Pirelli rubber, too. On a hot day, with dedicated summer tires (we’re still waiting to hear which brand and model will be standard equipment on North American cars) the grip is likely epic.
The ability to rapidly and smoothly change direction is only somewhat dulled by the mediocre steering feel. The rack is quick and responsive, and the wheel itself is nice to use with perforated leather trimming the supercar-standard squircle shape, but feedback from the tires is whispered and not shouted. McLaren, Porsche, and Aston Martin all offer a more satisfying experience here.
I found that the overall ride quality on the stirring sections of my drive was really great, because the GT Trofelo feels like a pure sports car. Light, active, pleasingly stiff, and ready for anything. However those same qualities made fast cruising in a straight line more caffeinated than I’d expected or hoped for; even with the drive mode turned down and the suspension softened up, the Maserati feels a bit brittle on the highway.
An Airy (And Slightly Windy) Cabin
Don’t get me wrong, I won’t recommend that anyone buy a GranTurismo for a commuter car. This rolling thoroughbred was never meant to be saddled with daily driving drudgery. Still, in addition to the mildly harsh freeway ride, the noise inside the cabin also felt too high for something sold at this price point. Those winter-focused tires may very well have contributed to some of the droning, to be sure, but the leakage of wind noise into the cabin was also far from segment leading.
Thankfully there’s a magnificent stereo system to counteract the small NVH woes. I’d never heard of the Italian Sonus Faber brand that designed the system, but I’d be happy to have one in the next car I drive. In both 14- and 19-speaker configurations, the resolution of the audio was exceptional, with great detail even at low volume, and precise sound staging from the vantage point of the driver.
Likewise, Maserati has gotten big and small stuff right in this cabin. Even in the rather monotone black colorway, evocative texturing and shaping of leather clad surfaces bring motion and excitement to the design, while details (like a pair of intricate speaker grilles per door) are carefully executed. (One annoying exception are the tweeters at the tops of the doors, which are made from cheap-looking black plastic and are only exceptional for their weirdness in this otherwise elegant space.)
For almost everyone the single-piece, hugely adjustable front bucket seats will be ideal. At 6-foot-5 I struggled with a fixed headrest that was always too low, but the rest of you will probably love it. Conversely, the interior space is well suited to huge folks like myself; not only is there a great amount of potential legroom for the driver, but the backseats have plenty of space for actual adults to fit.
Pixels Big And Small
Screens abound here, and generally reflect the excellent resolution and logical layout that I’ve come to expect in Stellantis family products. Facing the driver is a 12.2-inch digital dashboard that can be configured to highlight navigation commands, audio controls, traditional gauge and instrument readings, and likely a thousand other things I didn’t have the opportunity to screw around with. I was driving in Italy, after all.
On the center stack you’ll also find a 12.3-inch main screen, with a 8.8-inch “comfort display” position below. My typical benchmarks for a quick test – connecting my phone and streaming, changing the volume, and adjusting climate controls – were all learned in a few minutes. Standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will also make life easy for just about everyone.
Oh, there’s a digital version of Maseati’s in-car clock, too, which can be configured with multiple faces and information other than time. As a lover of mechanical watches and old clocks, this one hurts my heart a little, but I did shoot a quick video of it in the GranTurismo Folgore (which you should read all about next on InsideEVs).
Would You, 911 Owner?
A two-door, four-place coupe with buckets of power and a badge to make the neighbors jealous… If we’re playing Jeopardy! the answer here is usually, “what is Porsche 911, Alex?” Like so many other sports cars the new GranTurismo will have to fend off Porsche for sales outside of the Maserati faithful. Would you?
The GranTurismo Modena model, with a bit less power and fewer bells and whistles, comes in at $174,000, or roughly ten grand less than a 911 Turbo. That same base Turbo is quicker and more powerful than the $205K-GranTurismo Trofeo, meanwhile. And, though I haven’t had the pleasure of either exploring the entire 911 range or living with a GranTurismo day to day, it’s a safe argument that the Porsche will be a more painless daily than the Maserati.
Flipping the coin; owning any Maserati puts you in a special club, and this elegant GranTurismo will undoubtedly set itself apart from the fleets of Porsches found in Los Angeles, Miami, London, etc. It also feels more special, more of the time, precisely because it isn’t so sanitized and frustratingly unflappable as the default 911.
A similar analysis could be done for cars like the Bentley Continental, Audi R8, or even the Aston Martin DB11 if you want to get really spendy. All with tradeoffs to price, performance, and practicality, and none but the Aston with quite the same brand cachet as this lovely Italian. The choice isn’t clear, but any pick is wonderful.
If only the roads that I drove, the same roads that wander up to Tuscany if you just keep going, came as standard in the trunk of the GranTurismo. This is an excellent car no matter where you live, a special machine with real character on every road, but nowhere quite as good as it is on the back roads of Italy, I’m certain.
2024 Maserati GranTurismo Folgore