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Maserati, Sports Cars

2009 Maserati GranTurismo S

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The original Maserati GranTurismo was a wonderful luxury coupe, but it wasn’t much a high-performance sports car.  It was closer to a large Jaguar coupe than a Ferrari.  With the GranTurismo S, Maserati is giving its fellow-Italian automaker a run for its money.  The S isn’t a full-blown supercar, but that doesn’t detract from its brilliance in any way.

The GranTurismo S has a 433-horsepower 4.7-liter V8 engine under the hood that lays down 361 lb-ft of torque.  All of that power is put to great use and when you rev the engine close to its 7500 RPM redline, you hear true Italian music.  Forget Pavrotti,  Maserati has the truly beautiful notes.  When you click into Sport mode, the engine noise gets throatier and deeper as flaps in the exhaust adjust, making it sound even better.  Also, less exhaust back-pressure lets the engine push out an extra 8 horsepower.  More speed and better sound?  There is no reason to ever back out of Sport mode.

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Okay, there is one reason:  really slick roads.  When Maseratimade changes to the original GranTurismo to make it an S model, they were forced to upset the 50/50 weight distribution.  The S has more weight towards the back, making it easier to lose control of the rear on slick roads.  The weight change isn’t huge at lower speeds (“lower speeds” in Italian sports car language is under 80 mph), but if you really push it and the roads are wet, you’ll want to disengage the Sport mode for a bit more control.

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Interior and body design changes slightly from the basic GranTurismo to reflect the sportier heritage of the S, but it is still comfortable and enveloping.  And it better be for the $135,000 price tag.  But there’s something even better than the comfort for that cost:  exclusivity.  Only 300 GranTurismo S models will hit North American shores a year.  Maserati wants to develop more of a market presence on this side of the Atlantic, and they figure low-import, impeccably designed and manufactured sports cars are the way to do it.  Well, if all subsequent models are as attractive, both by way of performance and design, as the GranTurismo S, then Maserati won’t have much trouble making a splash in the continent.

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