Fiercer and More Powerful: Maserati’s Granturismo S
By James Wong
Maserati has listened to their customers’ requests for a more powerful, sportier version of their much-lauded sports tourer, the Granturismo. Their response comes in form of the Granturismo S – coming in two versions, one with the new MC-Shift Gearbox and another with a conventional torque converter automatic like in the standard GT.
The former can be said to be the more ‘extreme’ of the two. Kitted with more aggressive gunmetal rims, blacked-out headlights, an alcantara-clad interior and oversized paddle shifters (just to name a few of its unique features), the semi-automatic GTS (GTS for short) is the way to go for ultimate sportiness in the Maserati range.
The GTS Automatic is a lot tamer, and at times you can hardly tell the difference between it and the standard GT. The only thing that gives it away is the ‘Granturismo S’ nameplates in the interior. Otherwise, it is very much identical to the GT, right down to its quad exhausts and exterior outlook. Honestly speaking, I personally felt Maserati should have sharpened the differences between the Granturismo and the Granturismo S Automatic. But, as product placement dictates that the Granturismo S Automatic sits in between the standard GT and the GTS, this starts to make a bit of sense.
I was given a test ride in the Granturismo S Automatic just the other day. Although I was quite disappointed that I wouldl not be riding in the GTS, this would be my first experience with the 4.7 V8 engine and I was expecting quite a substantial difference from the base GT in terms of power.
Unfortunately, from what I felt from my seat, I was again let down. The 4.7 didn’t feel particularly more powerful than the 4.2, and while the car was loud, it simply wasn’t loud enough. I can safely say that the GTS is at least twice as loud as the Automatic model, and for a difference of SGD10,000 (USD6,897) more I would have to say the sound is not worth the money. Furthermore, the car felt sluggish with the torque converter gearbox, leisurely with its shifts and making out the character of the V8 a lazy motor. It always strives to shift to the next gear as quickly as possible, sometimes even before 2,000rpm. The automatic is good for potting about town, or getting stuck in traffic, but seriously, that’s not what you buy a Maserati for, right?
As I did not get to drive the car I cannot comment on its handling; however, the car was quite comfortable, even for me as a passenger. The car, like the GT also offers a cavernous cabin to seat 4 and in that respect, you have to give kudos to the designers for packaging such a wonderful design with a practical interior. The suspension is never jarring; in fact, it is worryingly supple and soft.
The leather used in the interior is luxuriously appointed and feels good to the touch. But the seats are a tad too uncomfortable on longer journeys; you have a sense that the leather is just too stiff and the designers scrimped a little on designing a well-contoured seat. Often, you are made to sit straight and upright, offering neither lumbar support nor any sense of security when you take corners at a slightly faster speed. The interior controls themselves feel rather appropriate for its price; it has to be said though that green backlighting is a thing of the past and Maserati should adopt a more modern backlighting scheme.
Reaching back to the showroom, I can’t help but feel something was amiss in the Granturismo S Automatic. I stepped in and then glanced again at the GTS and wondered how that car probably corrects all the faults of the Automatic version. They started the GTS and filled the showroom with all of the V8’s glorious rumble and bark. I sat inside the car, felt the extended paddle shifters, the alcantara seats and the alcantara rooflining. The car simply roared and nearly broke my eardrums when revved. Maserati simply put more effort into this car, and made sure it was the ultimate. That it managed to make the Granturismo S Automatic feel like it was a commercial exercise got me. It was then that I realized and affirmed to myself that this is the Maserati I want and crave. It is also, by extension, probably Maserati’s most desirable modern car to date.
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