- Tech & Gadgets
- BRW. lounge
Published 01 August 2012 05:27, Updated 07 August 2012 12:07
The word “Maserati” does odd things to some women.
Their eyes go all dreamy as they imagine cruising down the Amalfi coast in a convertible driven by George Clooney and they start to coo or titter.
Men, on the other hand, grow extra chest hair and start grunting.
It’s all very primal and mostly about hormones. Strange behaviour, really.
Perhaps it’s because the Maserati GranCabrio with its top off is the Gisele Bündchen of the motoring fashion world – class and beauty combined. No other marque has such an effect, not even Ferrari.
This Maserati screams “Look at me” – and so will some of your more crass passengers – and strangers yell, “Nice car, mate” as if that was a complete surprise to you.
“Oh really? I hadn’t noticed. I just bought this to tow the caravan.”
With the introduction of the sport version of the convertible, the GranCabrio has been given a few extra drops of testosterone and is now slightly faster, uses less fuel, spits out less CO2 than its unbadged brother and it has lots more black.
However, the power increase and the fuel economy changes are all relative. Maximum power rises from 323kW to 331kW and the torque from 490Nm to 510Nm. It takes 5.2 seconds from 0-100km/h compared with 5.3 seconds for the plain version and uses a still very thirsty 22.5l/100km of petrol around town compared with 23.9l/100km.
The CO2 output improves to 337g/km compared with 358g/km.
In the unlikely event that you’ve also driven the plain vanilla version of the GranCabrio, you won’t notice any difference unless your mind works like a calculator on steroids.
The look of the car has been touched up slightly, with the headlights and front grille getting the currently fashionable black look, there’s some side skirt work, the exhaust pipes are big, oval and black, long gear shift paddles in carbon fibre have been added as well as aluminium sports pedals, a digital rev indicator and 20-inch black mag wheels based on the trident design.
But the main changes have been made to the transmission. The GranCabrio Sport gets a new six-speed MC Auto Shift gearbox, which is at its best in manual and automatic-sport modes. It even holds gears in manual so you can get the exhaust pipes to sing some interesting songs when you hit the rev limiter.
The new box provides faster gear shifts and now automatically “blips” the throttle during down-shifts. In either mode, the changes are really smooth and ultra-quick. Given its harder edge, it also has launch control for super-fast take-off.
Beyond its good looks, the other real joy is aural. Hit the sport button and the exhaust valves open and the 4.7-litre V8 sounds like the gods having sex.
The trend with other high-performance engines is to try to make them sound more like F1 screamers but not Maserati. Its all-alloy naturally aspirated engine has an old-fashion cackle and spit full of character and depth. It’s like the difference between the warmth of the sound from vinyl LPs compared with the thinness of CDs.
A serious plus for this car is that in manual, the valves are always open and in auto-sport they open at 2500rpm. That means the musical theatre starts at street legal speeds, which doesn’t happen with other high-performance cars.
Oddly there’s a few centimetres of sponginess when you hit the brake pedal, which is very annoying, and it takes a while and a bit of stomping to get past the feeling that you’re not going to stop in time. You do, of course, and the brakes work just fine, it just takes a bit of getting used to.
Technologically, it lacks a reversing camera, which is almost essential with the canvas top down as the view is cut back dramatically, although it does has surround sensors.
The GranCabrio Sport is a decent-sized four-seater that’s wide and low but because of the folding roof, there’s only 173 litres of space in the boot. That’s enough for a riding crop and a horse blanket but not much else.
Thoughtfully, Maserati offers a bespoke fitted luggage system for the boot and rear seat. Perhaps it should also offer a nail polish to match the colour of rosso triofale. It was certainly a hit among my passengers.
While it feels underpowered compared with its competitors, there’s really nothing else with as much style on the road. The Maserati GranCabrio Sport has a recommended retail price of $338,000, excluding on-road costs.
For more: Mercedes E350 CDI; Audi R8 Spyder; Range Rover Evoque; Jaguar XF 2.2D; Audi A6 3.0 TDI and A6 2.0 TFSI; Mercedes-Benz CLS 63AMG; Peugeot 508; Nissan 270Z; Volvo V60 T6 AWD R-Design; Alfa Romeo 159; BMW 535d; Lexus IS350F; Volvo S60; Range Rover Autobiography; Lexus IS F; Audi A8L; Can Am Spyder; Alfa Romeo Giulietta and Mito; Jaguar XJ; Peugeot RCZ; Audi A7; Nissan GT-R