2013 Maserati GranTurismo Sport First Drive

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  • 2013 Maserati GranTurismo Sport Picture

    2013 Maserati GranTurismo Sport Picture

    A true GT, the GranTurismo Sport is both fast and comfortable. | October 10, 2012

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The concept of a GT, in which the 2013 Maserati GranTurismo Sport is aptly named, is a sporty coupe with rear seating that allows one to cover great distances in spirited style. The standard version of the GranTurismo was well-suited to the task, but there's always room for improvement.

Last year, Maserati introduced the most powerful variant of the GT to date, the MC, inspired by its Trofeo-spec racer and a two-seat MC Stradale road car. Some of that track-bred attitude filtered down into the former S Automatic Coupe to create a new Sport model.

Not quite as hard-core as the MC, the boost in performance, styling enhancements and interior updates are enough that the Italian automaker considers the 2013 Maserati GranTurismo Sport an all-new model. Also benefiting from these enhancements is the carryover GT Convertible Sport, which shares the coupe's increased engine output and revamped cabin.

A More Muscular V8
Thanks to the use of redesigned pistons, revised engine mapping and optimized combustion, which first bowed last year on the MC, the new GT Sport boasts 454 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 384 pound-feet of torque at 4,750 rpm from its 4.7-liter DOHC V8. This represents a boost of 14 hp over the S Automatic. For the Convertible Sport, the engine tweaks provide an increase in output of 10 hp. Torque remains unchanged in both models.

Maserati says the new Sport model can accelerate to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds and that it has a top speed of 185 mph. The engine is mated to a six-speed ZF torque-converter automatic that features 200-millisecond gearchanges and adopts the logic of the MC gearbox with rev-matched downshifts and gear holding in Manual mode.

Aggressive Face
Owing its inspiration to the more performance-oriented MC variant, the 2013 Maserati GranTurismo Sport has a much more aggressive face with large mesh-covered inlets that flank the grille and are connected to each other by a lower carbon-fiber splitter. The grille housing itself has a more pronounced jet engine cowl shape that features a prominent Maserati trident logo. There are four large sensors that provide ample warning of curb stops and inclines that might otherwise tear up the low front fascia.

Other changes include revamped headlamps to incorporate new LED daytime running lights, blacked-out window moldings, anodized blue brake calipers, 20-inch alloy wheels, smoked taillamps and new dual exhaust tips. The shapely GT, which is already five years into its lifecycle, is a timeless design that won't likely age soon.

New Seats
The biggest change to the interior of the GranTurismo Sport is the all-new sport bucket seats. Featuring new one-piece backs with integrated headrests, the seats are firmly bolstered with excellent lateral back and thigh support. The power buckets are easily adjusted using controls located on the base of the seat. A small satin-finish insert at the base of the headrest is said to mimic the design of the car's grille.

The same integrated headrest design is used on the rear seats, and the front seatbacks have also been reworked to provide additional knee room for the rear-seat passengers. The GT's cabin is comfortable and relatively spacious. Adults may find the rear a bit confining, but there is much more room back there than in your typical 2+2 — even better is the Convertible Sport that with the top down, offers unlimited headroom.

High-Quality Materials
As befitting a car costing in excess of $100,000, the 2013 Maserati GranTurismo features high-quality materials. Just about every surface is covered in leather or soft-touch materials. The controls and instruments are arrayed well with standard analog faces including Maserati's signature dash-mounted clock, while the center stack features a non-touchscreen LCD display, high-end audio system and easy-to-use climate controls. There's something refreshing and straightforward about the use of conventional switches instead of a convoluted multi-controller.

In keeping with the more performance-oriented nature of the Sport package, the GT has large aluminum brake and throttle pedals as well as an all-new steering wheel that features a flat bottom, and large grips providing several places to rest your thumbs at the 10 and 2 positions. Large column-mounted shift paddles are easily reached — the left paddle used for downshifts, the right for upshifts. When the transmission is in Drive, you can still manually shift the gearbox with the paddles, but after 5 seconds without use, the system reverts back to full automatic mode. The manual mode will hold whatever gear you select, except when coming to a stop.

Just-Right Suspension
Using stabilizer bars and springs that are 10 percent stiffer than those in the S Automatic model, the GranTurismo Sport has a firm ride that avoids harshness due to its Skyhook magnetically controlled shocks and a relatively long wheelbase. The 49/51 front-to-rear weight distribution is due to a drivetrain that has its leading edge in line with the front axle.

The steering is precise and communicative and there is enough margin in the traction control system to prevent it from robbing a driver of engine response when the brake-biased system activates. The car feels neutral and is easily placed in a corner. Braking is also sure-footed and linear in feel thanks to the Brembo dual-cast slotted and drilled rotors, with six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers.

Press "S" for Smiles
In what you'd consider normal in-town driving and/or commuting, the GranTurismo Sport comes across as quite docile. The ZF transmission's torque converter ensures that in low-speed operation, the shifts are virtually seamless. The burbly exhaust note also seems subdued.

However, get the GT out on the open road, punch the Sport button on the center stack and an exhaust bypass opens that lets out a glorious, throaty engine note. This mode also stiffens the suspension and tightens the steering a touch. Even in the regular automatic mode, when the car is pushed into corners, it summons up a timely downshift with a throttle blip bark.

It's this dual nature that sets the 2013 Maserati GranTurismo Sport apart. It can be an everyday driver and yet has this sporting side that can handle whatever challenges you care to throw at it on a weekend getaway. Better yet, due to its limited production, the Maserati is a rare bird among sport GTs. At its peak in 2008, just under 1,500 were sold by Maserati. This year the Italian brand is on track to sell about 1,000.

Pricing begins at $126,000 for the GT Coupe Sport (plus $1,700 gas-guzzler tax and $1,800 freight), while the GT Convertible Sport is $138,300, plus the same charges for gas-guzzler and delivery. There is no shortage of luxury coupes on the market today. However, if what you seek is something out of the ordinary, the Maserati GranTurismo Sport is well worth putting on your short list.

And when it comes to covering great distances in style, it's hard to do better.

Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.

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