By on March 13, 2009

Walking towards the Maserati GranTurismo S, I felt like a teenager trying not to stare at a Playmate’s breasts. While the “base” GranTurismo’s elegant lines, dignified proportions and powerful stance had captivated my attention, the S dared me not to look. I know; it’s stupid. At the ripe old age of near-50, I’m supposed to have left my spoiler infatuation with the pet rock slowly starving to death in the basement. And yet, somehow, the GranTurismo’s tail made the Maser’s design pop, blending pole position with pole dancing. Yes, well, I’d just driven the base Maserati GranTurismo and found the brakes, seats and handling wanting. So I was ready to be disappointed. If you’re jump aversive, here’s the bottom line: I was and I wasn’t.

Stylistically, well, I think you know where I stand (so to speak). Suffice it to say, Maserati’s blessed both GranTurismo versions with dopey-looking, hideously expensive, ready for curbing wheels. [NB: here's hoping the S' pun projectors don't fall flat; full size spare? Ha!] The only other external upgrade for the S: “integrated side skirts” (as opposed to?) and more attractive letterbox exhaust pipes. All of which isn’t very much. The S ain’t no AMG throwdown. Crunch time: the S had better offer something in the way of dynamic delights for that extra $10K or else why bother? Of course, that’s the exact same question afflicting the non-S GranTurismo, but there you go.

Fire-up the S and the resulting roooart indicates a much-needed power upgrade. Or at least less exhaust baffling. This iteration of the detuned Ferrari 4.7-liter V8 stumps up 433 hp (up 30 hp on the base model), and places 22 more lb·ft of twist (361 in total) underfoot. You’ve still got to wring the Maser’s bloody neck to get your wet sump adrenal system working—she redlines at 7600 rpm. But the GranTurismo S feels/sounds like a far more willing dance partner than its lesser-horsed sibling.

And it would be if it weren’t for the f’ing Ferrari F1-style cog swapper. Although the Maserati’s six-speed sequential robotic gearbox [their term] is smoother than the Quattroporte’s DuoSelect disaster, that’s like saying a hungry Rottweiler makes a better family pet than a deranged Doberman. Even in Sport mode, Mr. Roboto’s still significantly less capable and enjoyable than the DSG gearbox found in a $25K VW GTI. (Hence the news that Ferrari and Maserati are installing DSG in their models ASAP.) As for the Maserati GranTurismo S’ automatic mode, it might as well not have one. Clunk-a-chunk. I guess someone forgot what GT actually means . . .

OK, if I have to drive like my capelli’s on fire to get the best out of this beast, so be it. This time around, it all begins to make sense. First, and most foremost, the S’ Brembo brakes are firm friends. The anchors are powerful, controllable and dependable. If you’re in the market for a GranTurismo (did I just write that?), the Maser’s stoppers alone are worth the premium. Second, the S’ mechanical aria arrives unfiltered. Those of you partial to the sound of an Italian V8 (i.e. anyone with a pulse) should note that the GranTurismo S’ symphony of wailing, thrashing and screaming is as good as it gets. Short of a Ferrari. That shares the same engine. And offers more cachet.

Yes, there is that. It must also be said that Maserati’s porky two-plus-two is still more than slightly corner aversive. Long sweepers at stupid speeds? Andiamo! Rapid changes of direction? Boxster please. This despite the rumor that Maserati created the GranTurismo S—punishing gearbox and all—for track days. Seriously. The Italian brand has some major racing pedigree, and the stock GranTurismo would most assuredly die of one thing or another on a closed course. But the resulting GranTurismo S is neither fish nor fowl, neither balls-out sports car nor tennis-balls-in-the-trunk grand tourer.

Now, if they could fit the Maserati S with a proper autobox, you’d be looking at an entirely different proposition. A gorgeous, comfortable car that could lope as well as tear ass (albeit in a straight line). Needless to say, that’s exactly what Maserati’s doing with the next gen. Says so right on the box: Maserati GranTurismo S Automatic. Unfortunately, Maserati just can’t get their head ’round the whole luxury wafting thing. To wit: their recently unveiled “MC Sport Line.”

In short, the GranTurismo S demonstrates Fiat’s branding stragegy for Maserati. They’re positioning the storied marque as an “entry level” (a.k.a. budget) Ferrari, rather than a distinct, luxury-oriented brand. An Italian Mercedes, if you will. Given the GranTurismo S’ sheet-metal siren song, the aural appeal of its Fezza-derived V8 and the none-too-shabby urge, I’d say they’ve succeeded. Only one problem: that $100K 12K-mile Ferrari 360 sitting on the lot nearby. Which would you rather have? Well exactly.

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44 Comments on “Review: 2009 Maserati GranTurismo S...”


  • avatar
    FromBrazil

    Exactly. But aside that, this car is just so handsome it’s faults are just personality quirks. Plus you get the extra bonus of knowing you’re not running w/ the masses (German shoe boxes of all shapes and sizes or glorified Toyhonissans). That my friend justifies this car in my book.

  • avatar
    ajla

    It looks okay I guess…

  • avatar
    AllStingNoBling

    Okay, so the rim design looks like seven lobster forks arranged like a radial boquet. The rest of the car is so achingly good-looking, you could excuse the faults.

    Even if she is an expensive date, you just gotta be seen with her around your arm just once. You know?

  • avatar
    salhany

    When is the full autobox arriving on these shores? Is it going to be the same unit they use in the Quattroporte Automatica (which is supposed to be light-years better than the DuoSelect).

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Is it me, or does the headlight theme seem to derive from the Honda S2000? (… my computer being slow to load the rest of the pictures, I didn’t see more…)

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    (Oh, just saw the other photos) …and the tail-lights from a Jag?

  • avatar
    Juniper

    I was behind one of these on the way to work this morning. It looked good from the rear.

  • avatar

    salhany

    ZF box. Here in the summer. Although they are Italian. And if it’s fall, it’ll be an 2010. Which means they will hold it for a 2011 model.

  • avatar

    @Juniper- I sorta feel like the rear lights are pretty much a slightly sportier version of the Mercury Milan’s… Maserati can get away with Buick holes and Milan rear lights because of the name, but the Infiniti M – no allowances made…

    Otherwise a handsome and aggressive looking car.

  • avatar
    Viceroy_Fizzlebottom

    I still get suprised by how big this car is when I see them.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    The Audi A5 has a very similar rear end, and is a hell of a lot cheaper.

  • avatar
    JJ

    Ah, the 360 Modena… *twitches*.

    If you are dead set on buying at least 16+ ft of Italian sportscar though, how much is a mildly used 612 Scaglietti these days? Must be able to get one for about 120K in the US, surely…

    The 612′s design is growing on me. In the beginning I wasn’t convinced, but there’s something about those V12 Fezzas, although I still don’t like the 550/575 and I’m not unconditionally fond of the (512) Testarossa.

  • avatar
    CAHIBOstep

    Wow! What a knockout!

    The round fog lights remind me just a weeeeee bit of an early ’00s Pontiac, but otherwise it is striking in every way.

  • avatar
    sean362880

    Those wheels are preposterous. I love it.

    They should have gone full monty and made each of the 7 spokes a Maser badge; they’re 80% of the way there already.

  • avatar
    JJ

    I think the GranTurismo S is a pretty good ideological succesor to old Maseratis like the Bora and (the original) Ghibli, but those cars weren’t for everyone either. Even at that time, Ferraris were faster and Lambos more outrageous. The Maserati was the more stylish alternative for people who didn’t talk about acceleration times at dinner, or wanted to pretend like they didn’t.

    As a car it still is/tries to be that today, however, the problem is that it is now engineered and marketed as the poor man’s Ferrari, rather than a lateral move…

  • avatar
    carguy

    If all I wanted was a good sounding engine and quick acceleration in a straight line then I’d save me a load of cash and get a pony car. In the world of $100K+ sports cars you juts have to deliver a lot more than sound and straight line fury to compete.

  • avatar
    Gunit

    Why do journalists insist on poking holes in everything? The ‘base’ car is a bit to soft for some, so they tighten it up. So some wanker takes it on a track (that thing, a track car, hah), and says it goes soft. If it was dialed for the track they’d say it was too hard for around town. Granted they said it was for the track, but you know that’s just some blurb dreamed up by someone in marketing that takes the bus to work.

  • avatar

    Gunit

    Why do journalists insist on poking holes in everything?

    Are you reading the same reviews I am? [see: car mag contest]

  • avatar
    like.a.kite

    Yeah those overwrought trident rims sure do suck. A real shame it won’t perform as good as it looks.

  • avatar
    mtypex

    I don’t need the S. The base model will do, or as someone so eloquently put it, so will the Audi A5. Hotdamn.

  • avatar
    JLD2k3

    Any interior photos? Gorgeous car.

  • avatar
    like.a.kite

    Yes, it is a gorgeous car. I recall reading RF has a fancy expensive pro Nikon. Would have loved to see some ‘real’ pictures.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    grill is getting a little uh… large, isnt it?

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Anybody else see a little Z car resemblance in the headlight shape? Handsome enough, except the grill looks hungry.

  • avatar
    V6

    i’d rather have this than a 360. with different wheels that is.

    i’d much rather have a proper GT than an all out ball tearing track car. but they shouldnt have released this without the proper auto or a DSG

  • avatar
    levi

    Buick LaCrosse with grill pushed in, being chased by a Dodge Avenger assbomb.

    None for me.

  • avatar
    roadracer

    jerseydevil :

    grill is getting a little uh… large, isnt it?

    The grille is too large? It looks much better than any current Audi. Still, if I had money for one of these I’d be looking at an Aston…

  • avatar
    meefer

    I’ll be looking at the Astons thank you….

  • avatar
    Accords

    Ive seen these cars in person, checked the out personally (saw one in the complex near my work), as well as checked out the dealership that they are sold at in Vegas.

    I have to say that this and the Quattroporte are fantastic to look at and amazing pieces of work. From the deep / thick front grill, to the well sculpted rims and beautiful flowing lines

    As the first commenter said FromBrazil: “that you arent running with the masses” and that this car justifies that in his book.

    I hate to tell ya..
    But spending 130k on a car that doesnt do what it was designed to do.. is a waste of money, and a waste of my time, having to deal with this overpriced blockage on the highway.

    The car has so many fantastic cues, so many amazing elements in terms of style and design.. that sitting on the highway, in a 135g cocoon, doing 45 on I-95, is just plain stupid. Not to mention.. vast numbers of people, like drivers of these things.. find it acceptable to pay more attention to a phone call, rather than piloting a monster like this on the road.

    And what makes this stand out from M6, A5 / AS5 / AS7 / SL55 AMG / CL55 or the guy bombing around in his Linc LS doing 45 behind this Maser? Whats the diff between this, the Linc LS, the Continental that he could have bought and saved him self… 3/4 of the cost.. and gotten the same out of the car.

    If I had the kind of money to buy a Maser..
    Id at least buy one with a little credibility, and some longevity.

    Id definately buy one that I can thrash around.. not this QE2, all it needs now are a coupla tenders.. and a loud backup alert horn..

  • avatar
    oldowl

    Completely out of my league or interest. But why the Buick Roadmaster fender holes? Do they do anything? Cool the brakes maybe?

  • avatar
    Accords

    Buick fender holes were a sign of advertising. The same advertising that every automaker (or some) put a badge in the area under the left and or right mirrors.

    If ya had 3 portholes on each side.. it meant 6cycl.
    4 portholes on each side.. meant 8 cycl. It might help to cool the motor..

    The Maser might follow the same logic.. but I doubt it.

    But most times.. its just for show. Just like the plastic shit thats taped onto the current Focus. Ya can even buy portholes that ya put on with either glue or tape to any car.

  • avatar
    mtypex

    Astons are more expensive by far. You can wedge into a Maserati for almost, but not quite, Acura NSX type money.

  • avatar
    MagMax

    Robert, Your first paragraph in this review is an outstanding introduction, with great imagery that made me want to read more about a car that normally I’d ignore.

  • avatar
    Areitu

    I’m drooling at the description of the sounds this car makes…but my eyes hurt at how it looks. Not jiving too much with the Hyundai styling.

  • avatar
    DeanMTL

    If you want that rear just get the S5. Looks almost the same.

  • avatar
    FromBrazil

    @Accords

    I agree w/ you, but let me tell ya…If I had 120k to blow on a car, I’d certainly have a lot more in the bank. As I’m the type of guy who always drives under his means… This car would be just for fun and if the experience did get troublesome I’d sell it, take the depreciation (remember, I’d have tons of money), and go laughing to the dealership and buy another one!!

  • avatar
    Kman

    It’s already been said, but I’ll add my own:

    For the intended qualities and attractions of this car — beauty, visual and aural, luxury exclusivity — the Maser is negated by all Aston Martins. Plus the Astons actually offer good corner-carving attributes.

    Style is a personal matter, so I’ll put it this way: I find this car ugly, ugly, ugly.

  • avatar
    Accords

    Kman:
    I have to respectfully disagree with you about the Aston v Maser comparison.

    Thats the one thing that the Maser has over the / any A.M. Its looks and its styling.

    That, and Im tired of hearing about the endless editions, with the v8 / v12, the conv, the sport package an dor a race package conv with the V12 on the entry on some such shit. Im just tired of hearing about it.

    **I actually have a coupla diecast that Im trying to get rid of, that happen to be Aston Martins. Never been opened $25 bux each or 2 for 40. (Let me know) Somehow when I bought them I thought I thought they made a styling or design statement. I realized I’m tired of looking at the same bland car.

    There is no visual excitement, no panache and no cues. The car has gotten large, leavy and ovoid of any actual curvature.

    Ya get that same grill, no brightwork, no BAM.

    Worst part..

    I feel that they are pandering to the masses by offering one of their precious *gag* for about 90-110k. Seriously.. the car looks old and dated.

    At least the MASER has a design or some style. At least the Maser.. I can go over with a fine toothed comb and go, “Baby, I’D L O V E to show you some moooves!!!”

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    There is a Maserati dealer in my neighborhood, and with another over the hill in Beverly Hills, I see more than one Maser GT on the road most days, and even more Quattroportes. I’ve also driven a GT. The car is beautiful in photographs, but up close in-the-metal in full real-world 3D its loveliness is staggering, given the state of contemporary car design. For instance, I saw one a few days ago on the 710 (Long Beach Freeway), which is a stretch of Southern California roadway that is indistinguishable from….say….grittiest New Jersey. And still, even on that bleached-grey day, on a weed-cracked, rumpled, over-used highway, surrounded by the battered metal of tradesmen, local freight, and concrete mixers, with horizon marred by powerlines and sun-blasted stucco, the graceful Maser could not be pulled down by that dreary aesthetic which it pierced with every mile. This is reason enough to own the car. It is sufficiently competent to live up to the price, but it is *not* a sports car, nor should it be judged as one.

    For everyone who attacks the GT’s value, I only have to point out that *no other manufacturer* offers the density of aesthetic beauty in an automobile for so little. So if you can’t get the experience *anywhere else* for $130,000 or less, then it is worth it if you value what it is. Audi anything? Please, don’t even. Audi today is by comparison a high school drafting student in the shadow of Pininfarina’s & Maserati’s design mastery — trying and showing promise but still derivative, confused and crude. I imagine an A5/S5 coupe can be perceived as sexy….by virgins.

    The Ferrari V8 is gorgeous — to look at, hear and feel. It doesn’t have a Corvette’s shove, but it builds speed smoothly and quickly when the transmission allows it. When the tranny gets in the way, it’s a clunky downer. The GT lost some of the perceived nimbleness of the prior Maserati Coupe in the added stretch of the wheelbase. The new GT adds about 13 inches to the older Coupe’s wheelbase and you can feel it in turns. It’s exactly the kind of difference that makes Porsche 911 aficionados perceive the Corvette as “big” even though it isn’t.

    But this Maserati is a GT, not a sports car, though the S sharpens things up as Robert noted. If you want a $100,000+ sports car then buy one. There are Corvette ZR-1s and Porsche Turbos for that. The Maserati is a more relaxed car, more accommodating, more sybaritic, more aesthetically refined even if it gives up some precision in dynamics by being so. Nothing with a back seat feels like a sports car so don’t go looking for it to.

    If you love the Ferrari mill, and want the best way to drive it, look for a prior Coupe with the straight-up stick. No Cambiocorsa nonsense and the interior is equally rich. A low mileage used one is half the cost or less.

    Phil

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    I don´t care if it´s rubbish.
    If i had the money, i would buy one asap.

  • avatar
    Morea

    Phil Ressler : For instance, I saw one a few days ago on the 710 (Long Beach Freeway), which is a stretch of Southern California roadway that is indistinguishable from….say….grittiest New Jersey. And still, even on that bleached-grey day, on a weed-cracked, rumpled, over-used highway, surrounded by the battered metal of tradesmen, local freight, and concrete mixers, with horizon marred by powerlines and sun-blasted stucco, the graceful Maser could not be pulled down by that dreary aesthetic which it pierced with every mile. This is reason enough to own the car. It is sufficiently competent to live up to the price, but it is *not* a sports car, nor should it be judged as one.

    Well said!

  • avatar
    shoes

    Did RF mention how uncomfortable this car is? How about the unpleasantly unyielding seats, cheap headliner and joke of a trunk? Like those tight Italian shoes and trousers, they look better than they feel, particularly for the old guys who can afford them.

  • avatar

    I bought one and love it. Knocks spots of the R8 and any Porsche, especially given it’s a GT. OK, the LP560 is great fun to drive, as is the F430, but you can’t get four people in either.

  • avatar

    I saw this car on my way home from work today. I decided that I should own one. Sexy as hell.


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