Just the name “MASERATI” conjures a wide variety of opinions, memories and emotions. From the early 1950s Maserati were at the forefront of Formula 1 racing with the great names of the day dicing with death. A far cry from today’s clinical media show.
However Formula 1 is in the history books for Maserati. Today the firm produces a range of Supercars that are so interesting because they are different. From the Quattroporte through the Granturismo to the car I tested, the Grancabrio Sport, all offer the broad minded customer another dimension to their motoring.
Of course being Italian and having such alluring names does add a dash of alcohol to this essential cocktail. I remember being introduced to a rich industrialist in Monaco by the name of Gianni Bianco. At the age of eighteen I was mightily impressed, however the bubble was burst by my sage companion who pointed out that the gentleman concerned would have been Mr. John White back in blighty!!
Maserati is now owned by Fiat. Fabbricata Italiana Automobili Torino, have massive expansion plans for the immediate future. Maserati must not lose its exclusivity as this is certainly the lure of the brand and image is so important in this area of the market. However a modern approach to their expansion plans will have the potential to grow from an annual production of around 6000 units to 50,000. These expansive development plans are already underway for implementation within the next three years.
For the first time Maserati will offer a range of cars to cover the mid-size executive market, currently the stronghold of the Audi, BMW and Mercedes German brands. Also planned is an SUV, shock horror! Then again perhaps not, it has worked elegantly for Porsche with their Cayenne models, what a smart footballer’s wife must have for the school run.
Add to the mix a diesel 3-litre V6 which will underpin the development into new areas of the market. The current V8 as used in the Quattroporte and Grancabrio Sport will still remain as the high end performers that make Maserati special. Engine sizes and types are very market sensitive, Europe is the epicentre of the Diesel revolution, while developing markets for high end product are still very much Petrol engine orientated.
The road test of the Grancabrio Sport was blessed with fabulous British summer weather, we drove through leafy country lanes on the South Downs along deserted A roads and into London traffic all with the hood down and, for the most part with a full complement of four aboard.
Perhaps the only criticism of this being the hearty buffeting received by the back seat passengers at higher speeds. The rear seats are spacious enough for adults to sit in comfort for long journeys providing that those in front are not excessively tall or too selfish with their requirement for legroom.
Having been given the key, I was delighted to find all the controls to be straightforward and easy to operate. The seats are infinitely adjustable to make the most discerning driver comfortable in his environment. On starting the V8 engine, be prepared for the initial roar to turn heads, certainly in rural Hampshire the result was unanimous, in Knightsbridge less so because in that world there seem to be more Supercars than taxis these days.
Supercar or Sports car. For me this Mazza is definitely a Sports car. There is more than enough in this car’s heritage to convince you that this is not a status symbol but a personal indulgence for someone who loves real motoring. The car is so easy to drive it flatters the pilot’s ability with seamless paddle shift gear changes, amazing throttle response and pin sharp steering. The brakes are massively powerful which makes it easy to drive sportingly without alerting one’s passengers that we are actually beating our personal best time from A to B! Rock hard suspension has never ticked any boxes for me as I drive up to 50,000 miles a year, so a leisurely procedure is definitely my preferred option. How this car has balanced the need for competition dampers with excellent ride quality eludes me. No spine jarring surprises in the country lanes of Hampshire were there to spoil the party. This is such a car for motoring that elaborate sound systems would be wasted on me, I cannot imagine the need for any other form of entertainment. Perhaps the media system could be for early traffic warnings that would provide the necessary excuse for a lengthy detour through the countryside.
To get back to the point, Supercar? No….Sports Car definitely… YES! Probably the most Super Sports Car I have ever driven. There are cars on the market at twice the price that I would walk right past to get to this pretender. There may be other cars in the Maserati range that bear the title of Supercar but please let this thoroughly practical four seater remain a Sports Car.
If you want to know more, why not just Google” Maserati” and be prepared to have ‘yer socks blown orf!’.
George Robinson has been competing at Go-Karting since 1968, and was in the British Team in 1974.
He won three French Championships, and had the most podium finishes of any driver up to the year 2000 in the 24-hour ‘Le Mans’ race and was Second on the occasion on his ‘comeback’ race.
George Robinson has been a freelance journalist since 1983 writing for specialist automotive magazines, and is now the Motoring Correspondent for The Vintage Magazine..