Maserati GranCabrio: a milestone in supercar sensations Featured

Outrageous beauty, heart-thumping performance, plush comfort
by 14 April 2010

In Luxos' series of automobiles appraisal - here comes a supercar sensation. Look it in the eyes. There, set between its headlights, is a trident, more accurately, the Trident. Announcing that the cabriolet that stands before us is a Maserati. But the car’s dazzling looks are special. It has something that no other Maserati cabrio has ever had: four real seats that are welcoming, inviting and comfortable.

The car is a delicious droptop. The hood can tuck away into its housing but the GranCabrio would be just as eye-catching were it raised. This is because the car is outrageously beautiful regardless of the roof position. The reason for the soft hood can be summed up in one single concept: ‘centre of gravity’. Even the most technologically advanced soft tops weigh much less than metal ones, and this one comes in at just 65 kg. Another plus is that canvas is pliable, and serves as a great palette for colours and patterns. There are six colour tones available, from minimal black to high-tech titanium grey and smooth chocolate. The canvas is made with three layers which keep out all that the elements can throw at you. Imagine: you are driving along with the sky as your roof. It clouds over and rain looks likely. It is about to bucket down. Twenty-eight seconds: this is the record time that it takes the GranCabrio to shut out the elements. Skilful design ensures that Cx, drag coefficient, is just 0.39 when the hood is open. Compare this to the figure of 0.35 when it is closed.

The GranCabrio is a supercar milestone in the marque’s history. A close encounter is a memorable experience. Just take a walk around the vehicle, take in its beauty slowly. Allow yourself to be carried away by the detailing that makes it instantly recognisable as a Maserati. And why not bring the family? The days are over for those travelling in the back of a sportscar having to suffer. In the GranCabrio, rear passengers are not cramped afterthoughts but true participants in the voyage. Leg room, even for those who top six feet, is plentiful. Passengers’ backs are no longer stuck in an unnaturally upright position but comfortably rest on seat backs that prove that sportiness does not necessarily mean discomfort.

When it comes to enjoyment, it has to be said that the GranCabrio is one of those rare cars that can be appreciated with your eyes closed, just like a vintage wine. Imagine being blindfolded, sitting in the driving seat. Let your fingers glide around the steering wheel and along the dashboard. Every button has been enhanced with a chrome ring surround for a classic touch. Caress the seats. The leather is Poltrona Frau, an exclusive material that is supple and warm in winter yet airy and light in summer. The Trident logo has been hand impressed into the headrests, and the hand-stitched leather on the armrest is a sign of quality workmanship. The distinctive aroma of new leather is immediately apparent. As it matures, together with its owner, the leather will develop character and become even more attractive.

Beige dominates the interior and this is no accident as there are eleven tones to choose from for the seats, dashboard, hood, steering wheel and gear knob. Owners can create a made-to-measure cabin or even play around with a combination of hues. The timber in the GranCabrio reflects yet more expert craftsmanship. Surfaces are planed smooth and any minute imperfections are ironed out. The wood is then polished to achieve an eye-catching finish. The range of timbers now includes Carbalho, from Brazil. It is a variety specially sourced by Maserati, and its texture represents a sort of digital fingerprint that ensures that each vehicle is unique.

Comfort is an important consideration for Maserati, and driving a car like this is a truly rewarding experience, particularly with the hood down, offering the chance to turn one’s gaze towards the sky, the sun and the moon. The GranCabrio was refined in the wind tunnel, and with the windstop in place, there is a 70% reduction in the quantity of air entering from the rear of the car, while air flow inside the cabin is reduced by 50%. Wellbeing is a priority on the GranCabrio. The seats can be electronically adjusted for individual comfort. The seats can also be heated with a choice of three temperature levels. The steering column raises and lowers automatically when the door opens to make getting in and out easier. The steering wheel has an ergonomic grip. Skin on skin for a lasting relationship. The intelligent air-conditioning system detects whether the hood is up or down, and regulates airflow to ensure that the driver and each passenger travel comfortably, at their ideal temperature. The satellite navigation has a 7” screen, and it reads out text messages and traffic information so that the driver is not distracted. There are many other advanced features on this handcrafted car. An iPod can be connected via a cable tucked away in the glovebox, with music played through a powerful Bose stereo.

Go on looking. Better, take a test drive and make the acquaintance of the power plant. The sound of a Maserati engine is the product of years of expertise. It is a deep baritone, reflecting the eight cylinder engine that delivers astonishing torque. But it effortlessly reaches the highest notes when the gas is on full stream and the driver wants the maximum from his car. The secret of this flexibility lies in the pneumatic valves that control the exhausts. They are normally closed to ensure the GranCabrio glides discreetly, but once the Sport button is pushed they open up, and the sound is awesome.

Steering is precise, and its servo self-adapts to variations in speed. The rear wheel drive means that all 440 bhp from the V8 is put down on the ground without any wastage while the six-speed ZF automatic transmission adapts to the driver’s style and the road conditions. There is more: just a flick on the lever turns the system back to an old-school manual gearchange for a closer relationship between man and machine. These changes can be made sequential by using the steering wheel mounted paddles for peerless sporty handling. Driving becomes pure, unadulterated pleasure that can be summed up in one stat: 80% of the torque is on tap at 2500 rpm. The GranCabrio enjoys being pushed hard. Its engineering is rock solid and capable of withstanding extremes. If the revs are too high the gearbox takes care of changing up and, if they are too low, it shifts down a notch. The GranCabrio drive experience is enhanced by its weight distribution that is slightly biased over the rear axle. It has a 49% front-51% rear split with the hood up, and 48%-52% with it open. The GranCabrio’s load-bearing chassis is built from a mix of materials to optimise weight distribution. The structure is in steel, while bonnet and reinforced front bumper bar are in aluminium. The boot is crafted from thermoset plastic.

If beauty lies in the details, Maserati has spared no efforts. There is even a Maserati luggage set specially created for the GranCabrio. This is available in trendy leather and strong nylon, or in timeless all-leather suitcases or, for even more sophistication, in punched leather. Other details regard safety. The xenon headlights do not just light up the road but also watch, assess and self-adjust, by means of a control unit that processes information related to steering angle, yaw and speed. Electric servos rotate the headlight cones so that the road ahead is always perfectly lit. On motorway journeys, cruise control can take over. The system works in harmony with the automatic transmission to obtain maximum comfort without unnecessary gear changes.
When the driver decides to pull over, another safety feature comes to life: the parking sensor. This shows the car on the instrument panel surrounded by symbols that indicate its proximity to any obstacles. Because the owner will have this vehicle particularly close to his heart, while everything else must be kept at a safe distance!

For information on a test drive, contact your nearest Maserati dealer.
See the Maserati GranCabrio website
Compare automobiles in these Luxos reviews:
Aston Martin One-77
The birthplace of the Bentley