by Kimatni D. Rawlins
Letâ€™s rewind the scenario. Iâ€™m sitting in Maseratiâ€™s hospitality suite watching a cadre of GranTurismo MC Trofeo’s outduel each other in the Maserati Trofeo MC World Series as part of the World Touring Car Championship at Sonoma Raceway in California.
Itâ€™s an electrifying scene at this gentlemenâ€™s road race as each GranTurismo Trofeo blazed by with one of the most seductive exhausts notes in all of racing. Actor and accomplished race driver Patrick Dempsey was behind the wheel as was Hot Wheels X Games Double Loop Dare world record holder Greg Tracy. Iâ€™m intrigued and would love to have participated officially on the circuit.
Yet, Maserati did allow invited media guests to take part in the action by way of test drives in their new 2013 GranTurismo Sport and Sport Convertible. Need I say my wish came partially true as I focused on the Blu Sofisticato coupe?
It was a sunny and breezy day in the Sonoma and Napa Valley region for a drive in an Italian purist. The shapely coupe speaks elegance and dominance simultaneously. Typically sports cars do one or the other better. With uphill bending roads and open straightaways, I was able to understand the messaging of Maseratiâ€™s new GT. And thatâ€™s just what it is — a GranTurismo — whoâ€™s mission is not fixated on all-out acceleration or to become a full-fledged sports car, yet hones the ability to go fast intelligently. Especially since Maseratiâ€™s are not light vehicles. Yet they are perfectly balanced with a 49% front and 51% rear weight distribution and limited-slip differential which allows owners to drive fast easily. Additionally, the GT Sport is about prestige and character. Once inside the cockpit there is no sense of urgency. Supple leathers, refined woods, interchangeable trims and contrast stitching offers title holders a key advantage with its disciplined beauty and admirable performance.
Under the hood remains Maseratiâ€™s venerable 4.7-liter V8 with a slight power increase from 444 hp to 454 hp while torque has risen to 384 pound-feet from 376. And though itâ€™s only 10 added horsepower, I certainly felt the difference from 2012â€™s GranTurismo S. Their engineers adjusted the numbers through various engine tweaks such as changing the pistons and mapping. The vehicle accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and has a top speed of 185 mph. Shifting is dynamic since Maserati utilizes their MC Auto Shift six-speed automatic transmission with double-declutch downshifts. A six-speed Electro-Actuated gearbox is your other option. Large butterfly paddle shifters are attached to the steering column for timely manual shifts or the driver can tap the thick gear selector left and downshift by pushing up (flows with the momentum of the body when braking) and upshifting by pulling back. My hands are pretty big so the back of them kept grazing the shifters when turning aggressively in automatic mode. Conversely, I didnâ€™t have a problem in manual mode since I was directly grabbing the paddles for impending shifts. Lighter 20â€ Astro rims wrapped in staggered Pirelli P Zero tires offered amazing stability and grip while specifically designed anodized blue Brembo six-piston calipers provided superb stopping power.
While thoughts of serenity urged me to drive more like a chauffeur, the notion played second fiddle to exploring the depths of the â€œSportsâ€ button while pushing all 454 horses to the limit. See, Maseratiâ€™s â€œSportsâ€ engagement alters the vehicle in five key areas simultaneously. They say this one optimal setting works for their customers. Others may beg to differ since drive style is so random from person to person. Here are the parameters of “Sports”:
- The transmission drops down a gear instantly. This was perfect when mid-range acceleration was demanded.
- Dampers stiffen.
- Throttle mapping becomes more aggressive with up to 50% quicker shifts.
- Steering firms up for precision cornering.
- The exhaust is guided down a shorter path through massive oval exhaust tips creating throatier tunes.
Once youâ€™ve had your fun and settle down, lavishness is offered in a few key areas. The new steering wheel features deep thumb indentions that allow you to grip the wheel properly. The bottom half is rather flat so the wheel doesnâ€™t intrude with your lap when turning. The leather can be selected in any interior hue Maserati offers while the ring material can be wood, Alcantara or carbon fiber (standard on the MC). As well, Trofeo shift paddles can be ordered in carbon fiber. The GT Sportâ€™s new leather seats are designed in-house and feature integrated headrests for both the front and rear passengers. A Bose audio system and a multi-media system with navigation and Bluetooth complete the technology package. However, Maserati is still a bit behind in their multi-media offerings.
Aesthetically, the body is pretty much the same except for a few accent pieces. The rear taillamps now have smoked lenses, new front parking sensors have been added to the aerodynamically enhanced front end, the headlamps have new LED daytime running lights and the side grilles have been enlarged. Maserati actually made the first production vehicle with LEDs in 1998 with the 3200 GT. This is the vehicle that began the renaissance for the Italian brand.
Not to be outdone by bespoke competitors, Maserati offers an MC model (Maserati Corsa) which is derived from the Trofeo World Series. This special package transforms your GT into an aggressive race themed coupe with motorsports like bodywork and an array of personalized features such as carbon fiber rear lip spoiler, door handles, front splitter and side view mirrors.
Pricing starts at $129,500 after a gas guzzler tax and destination and puts the GT Sport in a prestigious class of approximately 20,000 luxury vehicles priced over $100,000 that have sold in the U.S. thus far in 2012. The GranTurismo Convertible Sport retails at $146,300 and the GranTurismo MC sells for $146,400.
Courtesy of: Automotive Rhythms www.automotiverhythms.com