Ten years down the line, a Maserati is still a spine tin­gling Ital­ian ex­otic

Evo India - - CONTENTS -

A car out of its time, it shows us how old school is still cool

IF YOU DROWN OUT THE CHAOS OF THE lives we are liv­ing while gaz­ing at an hour­glass, you come to a point where two things ex­ist, the sand and you. Ev­ery fall­ing par­ti­cle is a frac­tion of a sec­ond and when many of them fall to­gether at speed, you can’t put a num­ber to time pass­ing by. Some­where right there, you are lost in time. It could be day or night, 2007 or 2017. Time at that mo­ment is not run­ning fast or slow, it is just right. Just like the time a Maserati GranTurismo Sport rolls in to the shoul­der of a road we are wait­ing at, on an over­cast morn­ing in Mum­bai. You stop and stare and time passes by as the chaos is drowned in the beauty of the GranTurismo.

A decade ago, Ap­ple launched the first iPhone and Maserati launched the GranTurismo. You get an iPhone 7 now. How times have changed with phones tak­ing mas­sive leaps in tech­nol­ogy. The mak­ers are mak­ing them more ad­dic­tive than they were back then, but also mak­ing peo­ple dis­con­nect, for lack of a bet­ter word, with the peo­ple around them. It is sim­i­lar with cars in the past decade or two. Al­most ev­ery other en­gine that drives us these days is tur­bocharged, fake ex­haust notes are piped through speak­ers, steer­ing is elec­tri­cally-as­sisted and there is air in bel­lows in­stead of con­ven­tional springs to cush­ion you from bumps. The good news is (com­mon knowl­edge ac­tu­ally), the GranTurismo has none of them. In 20-eff­ing-17, this is a car from 2007, (the GT Sport vari­ant came in 2012) show­ing us how old school is still cool.

Some bits of the GT S are so tacky, even with a tri­dent on the key; it would pass off as a Ja­panese hatch­back if you didn’t look at the car. The in­te­rior is pos­i­tively old, not dated or ag­ing. The plas­tics couldn’t be worse, the steer­ing wheel is a mix of car­bon­fi­bre and an old man’s re­ced­ing hair­line and well, with the num­ber of but­tons on the cen­tre con­sole, you could ei­ther drive or push but­tons. It will get on your nerves as it got on mine. That lasts till you crank it up.

Crank it up, make sure the steer­ing is straight, hit the Sport but­ton on the cen­tre con­sole and test the strength of the fire­wall with the sole of your right foot. The clas­sic ana­logue tacho red­lines to 7500rpm, the Fer­rari-built 4.7-litre V8 per­forms a Pavarotti aria and sec­ond gear comes in at a slightly more leisurely pace than shifts from modern day PDK ’boxes. Sec­ond gear at the same pace and the toll booth at the Ban­dra-Worli sea link ap­pear rather too quickly. A queue at the

gates to the best (one and only) driv­ing road in Mum­bai gives me a few min­utes to gather my thoughts. Old in­te­rior, hot ex­te­rior, quick car, a shimmy in the wet and a Fer­rari sound­track. This day couldn’t get bet­ter.

The rain got a lit­tle stronger so I rolled up the win­dows and well, left the toll booth with the kind of en­thu­si­asm that should have trig­gered an early morn­ing po­lice chase, but I was in the clear. You could at­tribute that to the soul­ful Ital­ian singing to the plea­sure of the Mum­baikars. I have heard of sto­ries of Fer­raris and Maser­atis get­ting away with break­ing the law on the wind­ing roads of Italy (try it at your own risk) and maybe I was get­ting a lit­tle car­ried away, but I’m not to blame. Ev­ery­one is al­lowed a mo­ment of weak­ness. Once I passed that mo­ment, I was won­der­ing where the sound had been drowned though.

The GranTurismo is as the name sug­gests, a grand tourer. It has a V8 up front but with the win­dows rolled up and in Mum­bai’s am­bi­ent noise, all you can hear is a light rum­ble. There is plenty of leather and thick glass to shield you from the noise, and I get that it’s an essential at­tribute for a GT. But noth­ing on the inside? Re­ally? It’s hard to get past that and maybe you will use the air-con­di­tion­ing in the Maserati a lot less be­cause of this.

It sig­nals the pu­rity of thought though, that sep­a­rates a GT from the aura of a Maserati. There needs to be drama and a larger than life char­ac­ter to ev­ery car that wears a tri­dent on its grille, but it also needs to be a car you would want to drive long dis­tances. Maybe not in In­dia with the kind of roads we have, but you could cross coun­tries in Europe. It is that com­fort­able. The seats are lovely, wide and ad­justable, and the driv­ing

Old in­te­rior, hot ex­te­rior, quick car, shimmy in the wet and a Fer­rari sound­track. This day couldn't get bet­ter

po­si­tion is just right. You can just get in and drive with­out any in­tim­i­da­tion. Then there is the mo­tor that makes 453 horsepower at 7000rpm. The in­creas­ing deci­bels of its rum­ble as you ex­tract all of those 453 Ital­ian thor­ough­breds will make the wax in your ears melt in joy. It does the 0-100kmph sprint in a leisurely 4.8 sec­onds which is laugh­able com­pared to cur­rent stan­dards of even a six banger’s quick­ness, let alone the blis­ter­ingly quick V8s, but the way the Maserati sounds and de­liv­ers its punch can suck the soul out of M3s of this age.

It’s not just the en­gine and ex­haust note that gives you the thrills but the hy­draulic steer­ing and the sus­pen­sion too. There’s more feel in them than any fast car I have driven in the re­cent past. It may be a lit­tle too heavy at park­ing speeds and the sus­pen­sion isn’t as so­phis­ti­cated as the cars of the present but they don’t break your back or build your bi­ceps so what’s the harm in be­ing a lit­tle old school? Now I haven’t given it the beans on a wind­ing road so it is a lit­tle early to pass judge­ment on its han­dling abil­ity but from what I gather in the wet, the GT has more over­steer di­alled in than un­der­steer when you ap­proach the lim­its of the tyre’s grip and this is a lot eas­ier to ac­cess than I ex­pected, so ex­it­ing corners on hill climbs should be fun. It is still a heavy car at al­most 1.9 tonnes so don’t ex­pect a switch­back mon­ster, but there should be grace and flu­id­ity in its pro­ceed­ings go­ing by the feed­back from the steer­ing and tyres and the power de­liv­ery of the nat­u­rally as­pi­rated mo­tor.

You could ar­gue that with a `1.80 crore sticker price, the GT Sport is al­most `70 lakh costlier than a BMW M4 and the lat­ter of­fers a lot more bang for your buck. You are ab­so­lutely right. In fact, a facelifted 2017 Maserati GranTurismo has al­ready been launched in­ter­na­tion­ally with a mas­sively up­dated in­te­rior and quite a few ex­te­rior de­sign tweaks (what we are ba­si­cally say­ing is that don’t for­get to drive a hard bar­gain with the In­dian dealer for this 2016 model). Who says evo In­dia doesn’t give sound buy­ing ad­vice?

What you will get for a good hag­gle is an un­der­stated Ital­ian ex­otic that turns more heads than any­thing Ger­many of­fers. The curves that form its fend­ers ooze mas­sive sex ap­peal, the pointy grille hous­ing the chromed tri­dent has a race­car’s ag­gres­sion, the gills on its sides are a sig­na­ture el­e­ment more pop­u­lar than a celebrity’s au­to­graph, and it’s one of those rare modern day cars that still cred­its the iconic de­sign house that penned this beauty with their name on the side. The GranTurismo Sport is a modern clas­sic. ⌧

1: Fer­rari built at­mo­spheric V8 brings back the golden years. 2: 6-speed auto, not the quick­est around.

3: Drool-wor­thy de­sign penned in the last decade. 4: Tri­dent etched on com­fort­able seats. 5: Pad­dleshifters and car­bon­fi­bre steer­ing wheel de­tails make drab cabin live­lier

Left: Rear end de­sign seems a lit­tle dated now. Above: Only GranTurismo Sport badge on the car. There is noth­ing on the out­side

Above: Not a fan of the in­te­rior, be­sides the seats and the driv­ing po­si­tion. Fac­ing page: 0-100kmph in 4.8 sec. Not blis­ter­ingly quick but oh so soul­ful

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