2011 Maserati GranTurismo Convertible Road Test Review

Arv Voss - CAP staff
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All of Maserati's Trident-badged models are graceful works of art, with alluring, curvaceous and smoothly flowing lines, and several models, including the GranTurismo Convertible, are powered by the new larger displacement 4.7-litre, 32-valve V8 that generates 433 horsepower and delivers 361 pound-feet of torque. The engine is mounted up front, low, behind the front axle in a longitudinal orientation, and transfers motive force to the rear wheels via an electronic "drive-by-wire" throttle and a ZF 6-speed automatic or paddle-shift actuated 6-speed sequential-manual transmission (automatic-only for Convertible).

Now, in addition to its Quattroporte models and the GranTurismo Coupes, there is a new offering in the GT lineup – it's the GranTurismo Convertible which features a three-layer soft top that weighs a mere 65 kilos (143 pounds), even including all of the hydraulics. The top operates up or down at speeds up to 32 km/h (20 mph) in only 24 seconds at the touch of a rocker switch. When in the raised position, the top's shape is maintained by five steel and aluminum struts that also allow for its smooth design contours. When stowed, the soft top fits in a smaller space than would a retractable hardtop, and the lines remain true to the design profile displayed by the GT Coupe.

Recently, Maserati has made great strides in creating a more mainstream awareness in the world of high-end luxury sports cars. The legendary Italian automaker continues to employ the equally legendary Italian design house, Pininfarina, for styling the beautiful vehicles they manufacture. The Quattroporte (which translates as "four door") displays an unquestionably elegant persona; the GranTurismo Coupe exudes an emotional presence and overall appeal; and now, the GranTurismo Convertible offers open-air adaptability. Both the base GranTurismo Coupe and Convertible share the same mechanicals and carefully conceived choice of materials and equipment, ensuring high quality and pride of ownership.

Maserati celebrates its 95th Anniversary this year. The company was founded by the Maserati brothers who began in Bologna, Italy in 1905 as racing car manufacturers (considerably earlier than Ferrari) with the chassis of the A6 racecar. Prodded by valued customers, the first Maserati road car was produced in 1947 at the Geneva Motorshow – it was the A6 Gran Turismo, styled by Pininfarina, and was acclaimed for both its technical content and for its solutions in avant-garde design. The first standard Gran Turismo, the 3500 GT, was presented ten years later in 1957, again at the Geneva Motorshow. This proved to be the turning point for Maserati, placing the emphasis on building road cars ahead of the exclusive practice of producing racing models. Over the next seven year period, 1,983 3500 GTs were produced.
Continuing in the Maserati tradition, the 2011 GranTurismo Convertible is truly worthy of proudly displaying the iconic, stylized Trident logo that was inspired by the famous statue of Neptune standing in the centre of Bologna, Italy.

The GranTurismo Convertible exterior exhibits a natural, muscular form, beginning with the beautiful oval grille featuring the Trident seemingly floating at centre over vertical, concaved strakes, flanked by jewel-like wraparound headlamps that continue rearward to fenders that suspend gracefully over large wheels and tires, ultimately generating a powerful yet elegant style that fits tightly over the car's mechanicals.

The profile is emphasized by reduced overhangs and long hood furrowed by the classic "V" character streak, and short rear deck with integrated fascia, sporting twin dual exhaust outlets. Other distinguishing features include the profile of the ports on the front fenders and door handles, and the shoulder surround that continues around the base of the top at the rear.

In the rear, the triangular taillights incorporate 96 LEDs that ensure nighttime recognition; and a wind tunnel designed, aerodynamic cone framed at the sides by chrome exhaust tailpipes. The hood is aluminum, while the trunk lid is made from a composite.

My tester's exterior finish was done in a beautiful Grigio metallic (a dark gray), while the interior was executed in Avorio (bone) and Burgundy leather with Moonwood polished trim accents. The top was Burgundy. The car's base price was set at $169,000 while options and extras had the final tally approaching $180,000. The option list included titanium brake calipers, contrasting interior stitching and 20-inch "Birdcage" design alloy wheels – 8.5-inches wide up front and 10.5-inches wide at the rear. The wheel design incorporates three trident images with separator spokes.

The GranTurismo Convertible is a delightful machine to behold, with the top up or down, and a potent machine as well. It is, without question, a performance sports convertible, but with a full complement of luxurious elements. Some may even rank it in the supercar category, yet it is capable of accommodating four adults comfortably.

Ignite the healthy V8 and the sound of both engine and exhaust offer up a most pleasing and distinctive resonance, without being intrusive – especially when the "Sport" button is pushed. The automatic transmission is fitted with auto-adaptive control which adapts to driving styles and conditions: the driver may choose from four different operating modes: Auto Normal, Auto Sport (selected using the Sport button), Low Grip/Auto Ice (selected via the Ice button) and Manual (selected by moving the selector lever from "D" to the special gate). In addition to changing the gearshift logic, pushing the Sport button also activates the sport mode for the Maserati Stability Program and the electronic control suspension setting called Skyhook. The Manual mode will prove to be the most enjoyable for spirited driving, allowing gear selection through either the gearshift lever or a flick of the steering column mounted paddle shifters. To ensure safety and to maintain mechanical stability and reliability when in Manual mode, the transmission automatically changes to the next gear when maximum revs are reached, and also shifts to avoid bogging down.

Acceleration is instantaneous, generating great vehicle speed in short order. The car is well balanced with a weight distribution of 49 percent front and 51 percent rear, matching that of the GT Coupe. The electronic servo-system power steering adjusts automatically to driving speed, delivering just the right sensation at either low or high speed.

The Brembo brakes rein in forward motion promptly and effectively, with all the usual braking assist features. The braking system also features a "Hill Holder," which holds the car when braked on an incline for just over one second, so that the driver has time to move his or her foot from the brake pedal to the throttle without the car moving rearward.

Seats are highly supportive and comfortable whether cruising or hauling the mail, and the leather-covered, three-spoke steering wheel is ergonomically pleasing, with just the right grip.

In the final analysis, if the Maserati GranTurismo Convertible doesn't include it or doesn't have it available, you probably don't need or want it. It is truly an exceptional open-air (or not) tourer.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Convertible, Maserati, 2011, GranCabrio, GranTurismo Convertible, $99,999+,

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