By on February 26, 2009

As the salesman retrieved the key for the demo GranTurismo, I approached the trunk of the sleek silver siren sitting on the showroom floor. Even though I was opening the Maserati’s boot rather than its bonnet, I felt like a pre-teen rifling through a copy a Playboy while the drug store owner helped Mrs. Myers with her prescription. The fact that the Maserati’s electric rear lid opened at all was heartening. And then I saw it: a blue box. Genuine Maserati parts. Fumble, fumble. Uh-oh. A trickle charger. A classy, digital battery booster, but a direct link to the most troublesome car I’d ever owned (a British two-seater named after a man called Trevor). It seems that Maserati’s latest product for the American market is still a bit . . . problematic. But not for the reasons you might think.

Those damn Italians. Why can’t the GranTurismo be a Porsche? Or a Caddy? Or a Lexus? Then I could just phone it in. Test drive? Do you test drive Adriana Lima? Don’t answer that. Let’s talk price. Actually, not yet. Lest we forget, the GranTurismo is a Maserati, a marque that fled the United States with its tailpipe dragging on the runway, showering onlookers with red hot sparks. In other words, certain precauzione must be taken. Buona fortuna. I’m supposed to be checking the GranTurismo’s door seals, peering down the side of the bodywork, eyeballing panel gaps, desperately seeking seams. But I can’t think. Hell, I can hardly breathe. OK, wait. I’m good.

The GranTurismo is a perfectly proportioned, exquisitely detailed piece of automotive artistry. Like most classic examples of sheet metal magic, the GranTurismo is slightly derivative; there’s more than a hint of Aston/Jaguar XK in the Maser’s shape and stance. While the GranTurismo is more Italian than the Bentley Continental GT is British, both cars seem curiously . . . international. Then again, who cares? The Maser’s voracious snout and crouching tiger hidden dragon rear haunches give it a bold, unique presence. In a world where a $130K BMW looks like a $30K entry-level sedan, the GranTurismo stands apart.

Inside, not so much. The GranTurismo’s cabin lacks the sense of occasion or (dare I say it) the delicacy of a hand-crafted Italian automobile. The HVAC controls are Delphinian, the ICE Blaupunktian. Everything works (which is, after all, the point), everything’s where it should be and the fit and finish are beyond reproach. But my Nikon D70 is more sensually satisfying. While I’ll gladly trade character for reliability in the Maser’s major control units (as Bosch is my witness), there’s no excuse for the GranTurismo’s non-supportive seats, nasty plastic steering wheel airbag cover and anodyne gauges. The similarly priced Quattroporte is a far more convivial place in which to cross continents.

The 5000lb GranTurismo sits on a slightly stretched Ferrari 612 platform, motivated by a detuned 4.2-liter Ferrari V8. Maserati’s Maranello mill develops 405 hp @ 7100 rpm and stumps up 339 lb·ft of torque @ 4750 rpm. Translation: the Maserati GranTurismo is not a relaxed, high speed cruiser. (For comparison sake, the Mercedes CL550 serves up 391 lb·ft of twist from 2800 to 4800 rpm.) To ensure class-compliant forward thrust, you have to slip the GranTurismo’s box into paddle or tiptronic mode and drop it like its hot. Nice work it you can get it, but it is work.

If you want a screaming Ferrari V8 at a bargain price, well, here it is. At the risk of sounding slightly crude, kick this bitch and she howls like you squeezed her nipples with an adjustable wrench. How great is that? However, Enzo’s famous comment “I sell them an engine and throw the car in for free” doesn’t really work anymore. Especially not in this application. For one thing, even on optional 20″ wheels, the GranTurismo’s handing is more about setting an appropriate course than adjusting it. For another, the seats. And then there are the brakes.

The Maserati GranTurismo’s stoppers lack initial feel. When they eventually figure out that you’re looking for retardation, they grab like a four-year-old coveting her sister’s Princess Barbie stickers. If a car’s only as good as its brakes, the GranTurismo is a swing and a miss. Equally annoying, the GranTurismo’s go and stop pedals are millimeters apart. Heel and toe my ass; the positioning forces a long distance driver to place their foot in a chiropractor-enriching position. Been there, F355’ed that; it can be enough to make you want out.

The irony here is delizioso. In a largely successful attempt to make a modern Maserati, Fiat has created an old school supercar: a drop-dead gorgeous, dynamically challenging automobile that’s an unbeatable experience on the right road in the right conditions. For any patron of the genre, the [now heavily discounted] Maserati GranTurismo is a fabulous bargain. Meanwhile, those who seek genuine driving pleasure from a Maserati are advised to step up to the GranTurismo S (review to follow). For the rest, next?

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33 Comments on “Review: 2008 Maserati GranTurismo...”

  • avatar

    Meh. I’d rather have a Ghibli. Nice review though.

  • avatar

    Great looking car, but there’s no excuse for this thing to be outperformed by everything from a Mustang GT500 to an F430. I know straight-line speed isn’t the point, but it should at least have the power to back up the looks and price

  • avatar

    I think this is the one car that looks good enough to transcend any faults.

  • avatar

    A review on a thursday? Joy!!
    And a review that’s a lot of fun to read, too.

  • avatar

    In risk of sounding blasphemous, does anyone else find that this automobile is only stunning from certain angles? From the others, it varies between merely good to downright awkward.

    Then again I do enjoy the hefty girls so perhaps my taste in aesthetics is not to be taken too seriously.

  • avatar

    5000 lbs and a 400HP V8 sounds more like what a Buick Riviera should be – the thumb-driver down the highway wafter – not a sexy Italian thing.

    I’d still take one of these things over a Bentley GT though, if I lived in a world where these choices were available to me. But for the same money I could get one of those Benz coupes with a bi-turbo V12 and all the fixings. Next.

  • avatar

    This is the only automatic car that’s even slightly tempting to me. Quibbling over automated manual vs. torque converter auto vs. dual-clutch (as every car mag seems to want to do with this car) is silly, they are all autos, and they are all entirely inapropriate (as an only option) at this level. Honestly, it’s so bad that I’d buy a Panamera first, despite the looks, just because of the transmission option. How do they get away with that at this price range? How many cars would they need to sell to justify putting a stick in there? It makes me suspect that the car was conceived and designed in a lazy, uninterested manner, despite it’s gorgeous lines, a suspicion which your observations about the interior seem to bear out.

  • avatar

    It’s strange. I see this car and I know I’m supposed to find it attractive. But in reality I find they took a bunch of design language that is, on its own, attractive, but lumped it together in an unsuccessful way. I find it ugly.

    For the same money, give me an Aston V8 Vantage (please) or even an Audi R8.

    Or a Continental GT, a CL550, a Porsche 911 Turbo, a…

  • avatar

    A true Italian sports car – it steals your heart with its seductive looks, sound and spirit and then proceeds to let you down on basic details (such as decent brakes).

  • avatar

    I am with guyincognito on this one. I’ll take mine in Blue, please.

    Oh, and did someone mix up the reviewer’s names on this review and the Lexus RX350? I thought Mr. Shoemaker was supposed to review the awesome vehicles and Mr. Farago the boring standard ones.

  • avatar

    Every review has criticized this car’s handling. Not good. Reviews tend to be more positive about the Quattroporte’s handling, probably because expectations are different with a large sedan, but I personally found the steering far too light and numb in that car.

    Reliability? Well, we don’t have a sample size nearly large enough, of course. If we had enough owners participating, we’d be happy to provide updated results four times a year:

  • avatar

    The official Maserati web site says the curb weight is 4136 lb, not 5000 lb… It’s still heavy, but not Hummer heavy. Don’t be misleading.

  • avatar

    I didn’t know it was a ‘baby’ 612.

    Kman :
    February 26th, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    It’s strange. I see this car and I know I’m supposed to find it attractive

  • avatar


    Being outperformed by much cheaper cars is not a concern for the GT. Any car can go fast these days. Subaru WRX, Mustang, Camaro SS, etc. This GT, however, is about style and beauty, which is a much more rare and impressive quality to me.

    Would you sex Marion Jones (she’s fast) or Mila Kunis (beautiful)? THOUGHT SO.

  • avatar

    RF – I’d like to hear more about your TVR experiences. I’ve been thinking about buying an old TVR 2500 or 3000. TVR and Lotus have always intrigued me although I have never driven either. Just like them for some strange reason.

  • avatar

    romanjetfighter :

    Your line of reasoning is flawed-speed in a car isn’t anything like speed for a woman. Like I said, the point of the car is NOT speed, but I don’t care who you are, if you’re paying over $100,000 for an Italian GT, you WANT it to be one of the fastest-driving cars on the road. Why should you have to choose speed OR beauty? You’re paying over 100k, you should be able to have both.

  • avatar

    It’s too bad all Italian cars aren’t engineered and built by Germans.

    Gallardo LP560-4 weighs 3300 lbs. -almost a full 1/2 ton less than this. Go VAG!

  • avatar


    And how much more money is the LP560-4?

  • avatar

    This kid, who expects never to be able to afford a Maserati, loves the Quattroporte but thinks the GranTurismo looks like a giant lizard schwanz.

  • avatar

    Maserati’s power deficit is becoming less and less acceptable in this market. This car has to compete with the M6 and the XKR, both of which now bring 500hp to the table.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    willman :
    It’s too bad all Italian cars aren’t engineered and built by Germans.

    Gallardo LP560-4 weighs 3300 lbs. -almost a full 1/2 ton less than this. Go VAG!

    I deeply, wholeheartedly disagree. As in, I couldn’t possibly disagree with you any more. For example, if your opinion was white, mine would be 7. I don’t mean any disrespect of course.

    Fortunately, we can each have our own different $100,000+ cars.

  • avatar

    The aspect ratio is all awry on the photos.

  • avatar
    the duke

    You can tell the target market of a car when you can’t get it with three pedals. I don’t buy the “its like an F1 car it shifts faster” BS, because I’m not on a race track and a few tenths of a second lost shifting are more than compensated for the direct man-machine connection that comes with a true manual. This is a GT for the “I want to look cool and rich but don’t really like driving fast” crowd.

    I really like the previous Maserati Coupe (2002-2007) and its possible to pick up a nice used one, with a true manual, for about $40k. Now that is a true budget Ferrari V-8 GT.

  • avatar
    Michael Ayoub

    I saw one of these a couple weeks ago.

    It was driving off-road…

  • avatar
    Oregon Sage

    I encountered a pair of these, on some sort of junket, sitting in the parking lot at the Salishan resort in Oregon a few months back.


    I loitered around for quite some time hoping that someone would start one up so I could enjoy the aural beauty too. Alas, my patience ran out before the driver returned.

  • avatar

    i really don’t care about any faults this car has, it’d be the first thing i buy if i won the lottery

  • avatar

    2+2 two ton plus GT cars are a bit silly in my opinion

    full sized sedan like a quattroporte? probably less so

  • avatar

    @meefer: Aluminum is not that expensive.

  • avatar

    @Justin Berkowitz: “As in, I couldn’t possibly disagree with you any more. For example, if your opinion was white, mine would be 7.”

    aaah – hahahahahahahahaha~! :D :D :D

    You are a Funny man, Mr. Berkowitz!

    (btw, by Zee Chermanz I didn’t mean Merc)

    +anyway, that’s ok. I’ll stay away from the Alfas, Ferraris, etc.

    -But from now on, everything you drive HAS to be designed, engineered & built by F(ix)I(t)A(gain)T(ony). Deal? ;P


  • avatar

    This car has to compete with the M6 and the XKR, both of which now bring 500hp to the table.

    Yes, but the M6 is so ugly that it should be sold with a balaclava and sunglasses: balaclava so that the owner cannot be recognized, and sunglasses so that he doesn’t see his own car too much.

  • avatar

    “It’s not how fast you go, it’s how you go fast.”

  • avatar

    In New England BMW, Audi and Mercedez are common.

    But Orange County and Los Angeles have Maseratis.

    It’s not how fast you go or it’s how you go fast,
    It’s how you’re going to stop a Maserati.

  • avatar

    thetopdog: This car is fast. See, the problem you’ve made is you’ve stopped differentiating between being outperformed by cheaper cars, and being fast. This Maser is fast. Just because cheaper cars can hit 60 mph faster has no bearing on a number of things, such as HOW it reaches 60 mph, the sensations it delivers, etc. A Cobalt SS is faster than this Maserati I believe, and yet I can tell you that a turbocharged eco-tec I-4 screaming to 60 isn’t quite as satisfying as this Maserati’s Ferrari sourced V8.

    And besides all of that, you ARE getting a fast car for the money. What do you think a Ferrari V8 gets you? Slow? It might not be as fast as some competitors, or even some cheaper vehicles, but it’s fast.

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