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The 2008 Maserati GranTurismo looks and sounds so good that its driving credentials seem almost superfluous. Rest assured, though, that the GranTurismo has the moves to back up its curves.
Sumptuous style, sensual soundtrack, sublime synthesis of performance and luxury.
Fender vents by Buick, some competitors are faster, no manual transmission.
Available GranTurismo Coupe Models
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Making its debut for 2008, the dashing Maserati GranTurismo injects a welcome dose of Italian exuberance into the exclusive luxury performance coupe segment.
Maserati has been no stranger to long-legged luxury performance coupes throughout its storied (if recently checkered) past. The 2008 Maserati GranTurismo is the company's latest variation on this theme, following in the footsteps of the recently discontinued Maserati Coupé and Spyder, which had aged rapidly with the arrival of swifter and more sophisticated competition. While some of its styling cues hearken back to legendary Maseratis of yore, the GranTurismo's overall appearance is thoroughly and seductively modern. The real news, though, is that this Maserati drives as good as it looks.
Since the GranTurismo is based on a shortened version of the Quattroporte sedan's platform, one might be tempted to write it off as merely a two-door Quattroporte. This would be a serious mistake. First of all, the Quattroporte is a world-class performer in its own right, so any car that shares its bloodlines is bound to be pretty darn good. But more to the point, the four-passenger GranTurismo ranks among the very best of the grand touring breed on its own merits.
This is a case where numbers tell only a fraction of the story. The GranTurismo's sonorous V8 is a bit down on power compared to the rival BMW M6's V10, and its acceleration times fall short of both the brawny Bimmer's and the Jaguar XKR's. However, the Ferrari-built eight-cylinder is wonderfully smooth and tractable, and its explosive high-rpm muscle still enables the GranTurismo to run with just about any car on the road. Similarly, while the 4,147-pound GranTurismo won't set any records on the skid pad, it strikes an agreeable balance between sports-carlike handling and long-distance cruising comfort -- just as a proper grand tourer should.
The GranTurismo's cabin is equally impressive. Hand-stitched leather is practically everywhere you touch, and there's an aesthetic flair here that's missing in its Teutonic competition. Also missing are electronic gewgaws such as BMW's iDrive and the like -- which isn't necessarily a bad thing. There's plenty of modern technology baked into this Maserati, but it's not as obtrusive as in other luxury performance coupes. The result is a seemingly purer driving experience.
We might carp among ourselves about the unavailability of a manual transmission -- after all, what's an Italian GT without a gated shifter? -- but to be fair, competing models like the M6, the Mercedes-Benz CL550 and the Jaguar XKR don't offer one either. Other than that, it's hard to fault the 2008 Maserati GranTurismo. It's visually stunning, of course, but its beauty is far more than skin deep. Those who buy one based on looks alone are in for some pleasant surprises behind the wheel.
The 2008 Maserati GranTurismo is a four-passenger luxury performance coupe. Only one trim level is available. Standard equipment includes 19-inch alloy wheels, Brembo brakes, an electronically adjustable suspension, adaptive bi-xenon headlamps with washers, leather upholstery, heated 10-way power front seats with driver memory, dual-zone automatic climate control, a Bose surround-sound audio system and a hard-drive-based navigation system.
Options are mostly limited to an array of aesthetic enhancements. The GranTurismo's brake calipers can be painted any of five additional colors (black is standard), and there are three optional wheel designs -- one 19-inch set and two 20-inchers. Any of 10 "special paints" can be applied to the exterior at the buyer's behest, and seemingly endless combinations of interior hues and trim pieces are also available.
The 2008 Maserati GranTurismo is propelled by a 4.2-liter V8 that pumps out 405 horsepower and 339 pound-feet of torque. The engine is designed and built by Ferrari, but its unique crankshaft and cylinder heads distinguish it as a Maserati mill. A six-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles routes the V8's power to the rear wheels.
Maserati estimates a 0-60 sprint of 5.1 seconds for the GranTurismo -- a smidge quicker than the Mercedes-Benz CL550, but a few ticks behind the BMW M6 and Jaguar XKR.
The GranTurismo comes standard with antilock brakes, traction control and stability control, as well as front-seat side airbags and head-protecting side-curtain airbags for front passengers.
The 2008 Maserati GranTurismo's leather-coated interior is warm, inviting and highly customizable thanks to Maserati's extensive selection of colors and materials. Controls are mostly where you'd expect them to be, and the driving position is first-rate. Note that the GranTurismo's well-bolstered rear seat actually accommodates two adults without much difficulty, which cannot be said of the M6 or XKR despite their four-passenger pretensions.
Thanks to its well-sorted chassis and adjustable suspension, the 2008 Maserati GranTurismo is in its element whether carving corners or gobbling up miles on the interstate. While it doesn't quite evince the at-the-limit composure of a Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, the GranTurismo can still hang with such cars for the most part, and its qualifications as a high-speed cruiser are beyond reproach. We'd prefer to shift our own gears in a thoroughbred like this, but the mandatory automatic's performance is nonetheless exemplary.
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