think fast: What’s the ultimate summer accessory?
A cool convertible, of course; Maserati gives the grand tour
There are lots of ways to keep cool in Austin as the heat continues to rise, such as spending an afternoon at Barton Springs.
You also could drop about $140,000 on a 2010 Maserati Gran Turismo convertible. Do that, and you will stay very, very cool.
Before I drove this Italian grand tourer at a recent press event at the Barton Creek Resort, I had my concerns about its performance.
Sure, it’s hand-built and features a Ferrarisourced V-8 engine, but it weighs more than 4,000 pounds. Its quoted zero-to-60-mph time is 5.3 seconds — fast, yes, but pretty far outside the territory of competing Corvettes and Porsches. And it only has an automatic transmission.
But the Maserati Gran Turismo convertible isn’t about numbers or performance figures. It’s about passion and excitement, usability and precision. It’s a quick, hard-cornering beast, and at the same time, it’s comfortable and extremely well appointed.
A little background: Maserati is an Italian company that’s been around since 1914. Today, it’s owned by the Fiat group, along with Ferrari. The Maserati is marketed as a kind of “Gentleman’s Ferrari,” a car with a raceproven engine and technology that also can be driven comfortably every day.
This is apparent when you step into the driver’s seat, which is like sitting on the most expensive couch at the nicest furniture store in town. The steering wheel has grooves for your thumbs so you can keep your hands at the 9 and 3 o’clock positions at all times, with the transmission’s paddle shifters in easy reach. The rest of the interior is covered in high-quality soft leather, aluminum and wood. The back seats have decent legroom for two adults.
Unlike a Ferrari or a Lamborghini, the Gran Turismo’s exterior is understated, with a classic coupe shape. It’s hard not to look awesome in this car, and the best way to drive it is with the top down, with sunglasses and a nonchalant look on your face. Be cool. Be Italian.
Revving the 4.7-liter, 433-horsepower V-8 produces a roar so glorious, you won’t care about the price tag as it happily reaches a race-carlike 7,200 RPMs.
On the road, you can barely feel road bumps, and the steering feels solid. Although the brakes
Continued from D1 are huge 13-and 14-inch Brembos, I found their grip to be a bit lacking.
In sport mode, the accelerator becomes more responsive and will hit redline before shifting. Cornering becomes flat, and suspension stiffer. Occasionally a “BRAP-BRAP” sound comes from the exhaust — a misfire built into the ignition system for effect.
Despite its weight and length, the Gran Turismo went into the twists and turns around RM 2244 with next to zero body roll.
Although the car features paddle shifters, I rarely used them. In sport mode, the automatic transmission always seemed to be in the gear I wanted. However, I found it frustrating that the transmission switched back to normal “Drive” if I didn’t shift with the paddles often enough. This could be a problem on a racetrack.
But let’s face it: That’s not this Maserati’s mission. True to its name, it’s a grand tourer, not a pure, hard-edged sports car. It’s designed for long, fast and enjoyable drives, hence features such as a 40-gigabyte hard drive for music, satellite radio and satellite navigation.
In addition, Austin has a full-service Maserati dealership in the Anderson Mill area, so unlike many high-end cars, owners won’t have to send them to Houston or Dallas for repairs.
Being out in the sun doesn’t feel so bad.
This car can hit 7,200 RPMs. And the steering wheel has grooves for your thumbs. Nuff said.