Advertisement2011 Maserati GranTurismo Convertible - Short Take Road TestTight hindquarters on this supermodel.BY AARON ROBINSON, PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEFF ALLEN
Photos (23)Highs and Lows
Highs:Lusciously trimmed, gorgeously Italian, you can finally hear that Ferrari-derived V-8.
Lows:Wee trunk, rather heavy, needs a separate suspension control.Visit Our Buyer's Guide »Maserati GranTurismo› Overview› Specifications› Price with Options› Photos & 360° View› Get a Free QuoteNews & Reviews2010 Maserati GranCabrio - Car NewsTop CompetitorsAston Martin DB9 VolanteAudi R8 SpyderFerrari CaliforniaJaguar XKR convertibleMercedes-Benz SL63 AMG
Test jalopies rarely show up on a Saturday evening, but this one did. The Maserati GranTurismo convertible stopped a dinner party in its tracks by sliding out of a three-axle trailer in front of our West Coast bureau—top down, quad pipes spluttering, looking like Athena’s left Puma in its umpteen coats of waxed Blu Oceano enamel. If your ego demands that you make an even grander entrance, may we suggest renting the USC marching band?
Builders of luxury convertibles have split between folding hardtops and canvas. Rational heads in search of extra ultraviolet go for a Mercedes-Benz SL and its metal robo-roof. Traditionalists prefer the lustrous burled wood found under the fabric top of a Jaguar XK. An extrovert goes Italian, definitely ¬Italian, even if it costs a bit more. On its $140,200 GTC, Maserati has opted for a three-layer ragtop.
One button in the lavishly bovine-skinned interior sends the top diving in 21 seconds under a motorized cover, which can be swaddled in even more leather for an extra $1350 (which also includes extra dash wrapping). Our top flopped and re-popped many times and without any shilly-shally or smoke from the wires, so a treasured stereotype took a beating there.
Stowing the roof is akin to removing cotton from one’s ears. In the GranTurismo hardtop, the V-8 is almost mute. With no
top, suddenly there’s an engine with the voice of an angel—a barking angel, a snarling angel, an angel that rips and howls and makes catcalls at the ladies.
At least, if you have selected the sport setting. If not, the 433-hp, 4.7-liter V-8—which pulls this rig past 60 mph in 4.9 seconds and delivers 140 mph in less than half a minute—makes an unsettling hissing noise, like the Goodyear blimp with a leak.
The trouble is, besides opening up the exhaust throats, the do-it-all sport button also tenses up the GTC’s suspension and makes the throttle and the six-speed automatic far less concerned about fuel economy.
The firmer damping delivers no great benefit to the handling of this 4571-pound porker, but it does wreck the otherwise smooth ride and telegraphs more shock waves through the floor and the steering ¬column, already weakened by the absence of a solid roof. We wish Maserati had included a separate suspension button to give the driver more a la carte control.
Even though the GTC’s steering feels a bit remote and the brakes sometimes get overwhelmed before tight bends by all the kinetic energy stirred up by the heroic engine, the car retains enough poise to make an open road highly pleasurable.
Sure, shifts by the traditional planetary-gear ZF six-speed automatic aren’t quite as snappy as in the latest dual-clutch jobs (or as satisfying as a manual’s—dream on), but we suspect the GTC’s mostly boulevard-bound drivers will appreciate its smooth operation.
As with the coupe, the ragtop swallows up a full parking space. It rolls on the same platform as the Quattroporte sedan, and the 115.8-inch wheelbase is more than a foot longer than a Benz SL’s. In crowded lots, this giant four-seat lothario feels big enough to span the gap between Fifth Avenue and Central Park West.
Even so, the trunk shrivels from a shoebox nine cubic feet in the coupe to a snuffbox six, leaving a space shaped like—and not much larger than—a carton of cigarettes. At least the rear-seaters get to keep their knees, and with the top up, the cabin is pretty well sealed off from wind and road noise. Broad and mostly flat, the front seats are brutally firm and feel like cast concrete after a few hours.
Selling to rich folk seems so easy. Will they really pay $750 for painted brake calipers and $2500 for body-color dash trim? Maybe. Either way, the GTC is both alluring and idiosyncratically flawed, a combination as old as Italy itself.Specifications
VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door convertible
PRICE AS TESTED: $146,500 (base price: $140,200)
ENGINE TYPE: DOHC 32-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection
Displacement: 290 cu in, 4747 cc
Power (SAE net): 433 hp @ 7600 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 361 lb-ft @ 4750 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 115.8 in Length: 192.2 in
Width: 75.4 in Height: 54.3 in
Curb weight: 4571 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS:
Zero to 60 mph: 4.9 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 11.7 sec
Zero to 140 mph: 26.1 sec
Street start, 5–60 mph: 5.2 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 13.5 sec @ 107 mph
Top speed (drag limited, mfr’s claim): 176 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 150 ft
Roadholding, 200-ft-dia skidpad: 0.88 g
EPA city/highway: 12/20 mpg
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