Maserati Granturismo S review 2012
By Bob Hume, 01st June 2012
There are special moments which make the life of an automotive journalist worthwhile. These fleeting glimpses at brilliance make all the attention span-challenging references to the boot capacity of some tedious hatchback and sitting through lengthy presentations on a minor change to the engine of a German saloon worthwhile.
The Maserati Granturismo was one of those special moments.
I may have said a bad word (in a good way) when I got a clear piece of road and opened the throttle. My window was already down in preparation for what I’d guessed was going to be a very special sound, I’d geared down as soon as the dawdler in front’s left indicator flash in preparation for him/her to turn off and get out of my way. The Sport setting was armed and I was using the sequential paddle shift.
A healthy dab of the right pedal instantly changed everything.
An equally healthy dollop of torque was served up immediately and the background burble of the 4.7-litre V8 was replaced by a snarl that rose quickly to become a glorious bellow. The accompanying acceleration was devastatingly quick.
Everything was reigned back in as I reached 60(ish) mph. But there was more; a heart-warming series of pops on the over-run and on the way back down the gears.
This is Maserati‘s edgier and more aggressive Granturismo and the addition of a single letter ’S‘ to the end of the name makes a gigantic difference: it gets nearly 500cc more in its Ferrari-built V8, a rear-mounted gearbox, lower suspension, 20-inch rims, stiffer springs and dampers. The exhaust system is also new, optimised for the extra power and with a bypass that opens when Sport mode is activated. It also gets beefier Brembo brakes and a modified version of the Skyhook suspension system, which Maserati says produces 10% less body-roll.
The larger capacity and various tweaks equate to a more even provision of torque across the rev range and a maximum of 361lb/ft at 4750rpm. The 433bhp that‘s available makes this the most powerful production Maserati ever built (except for the very rare MC12). Top speed is 182mph and the S will reach 62mph from standstill in 4.9 seconds.
The Sport button does a lot of things, not least of which is to make the exhaust note and induction noises louder but it also remaps induction, ignition, damping and adds 10bhp.
This car was begging to be driven in a closed test area.
Launch from standstill is rapid and urgent. Changing on the redline achieved a similar time figure to the one given by Maserati and I was well over the ton seconds later. The first corner was a long left-hander and as I aimed the nose in, the car reacted predictably and with a little controllable liveliness in the tail but no discernible body-roll.
Everything is held subtly in check with non-intrusive electronics. I found that I could get on the power surprisingly early when exiting corners and the minimal oversteer correction was a testimony to the grip, driver’s aids and general set-up. The quality of power delivery from the Granturismo S cannot be overstated.
Hugely powerful Brembo calipers and discs combined with strong grip from the fat rubber ensure a very confident approach to braking areas.
As far as the styling goes, it's probably best that you look at the photographs: I spent a few hours with Chris Huston at the photoshoot on the Antrim Coast and I'm not about to ruin his work with inadequate descriptions of how beautiful this car really is. The visible differences that identify the Granturismo S are pretty subtle: twin tailpipes, black grille and rear spoiler.
As fleeting glimpses at brilliance go, the Granturismo S has very little, if anything to beat it. Few cars look as stunningly beautiful, have such a perfect balance of performance and handling and even less can match the pleasure of driving it.
Frankly, this is an unbelievably good car.