The Maserati GranTurismo is a heart not head car, no matter where you look in the range.
The ‘entry-level’ vehicle at £82,255 is bested by the much cheaper (by nearly £10k) Porsche 911 on pretty much every objective point, but the Maserati isn’t an objective car. It’s very much the opposite.
Before my time spent with the range-topping MC Stradale model, reviewing the car for Auto Italia magazine, I’d never driven a GranTurismo, so jumping straight in at the deep end was quite the way to do it – and at first, I’ll admit I was disappointed.
The basic design and layout of the interior is now seven years old – and it looks it. The tech that powers the sat-nav and the multimedia interface looks like a GameBoy Colour.
Then you get rolling and the jerky single-clutch robotised manual gearbox lurches around, not really filling you with confidence.
But the Maserati is a slow burner, it crawls slowly underneath your skin and infects you with its charm.
It’s old school. Fixed rate spring and dampers take care of controlling the wheels, and perfectly geared hydraulic power steering with a decent level of feel allied to the long wheelbase and long travel throttle mean you can safely play with the balance of the car even on the road.
This all plays second fiddle to the engine, however. The 460hp 4.7-litre naturally aspirated V8 isn’t that torquey but loves to rev, producing an almighty racket – like a melodious, metallic hammering – through the barely silenced pipes in Race mode.
Interestingly, the exhaust sounds best at town speeds around 2,500rpm, warbling its way between buildings with a cacophonous cry on even light a light throttle and spitting and popping on the overrun. Shy and retiring types need not apply.
It’s this character that makes the Maserati what it is. It’s certainly not a boring car to drive.
At full chat its gearshifts thump through in a propshaft bending 60ms – but the balance between just enough mechanical involvement and refinement as part of the driving experience is perfectly pitched.
It might be a more hardcore GranTurismo than some of its siblings, but at its heart the MC Stradale is proper a grand tourer. Four seats, decent comfort levels and a big boot reinforce the point.
There are better cars when it comes to speed, agility, efficiency and even price – maybe not looks, though? – but as a method of getting from A to B (especially if that’s across a continent), the Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale has to be one the most fun and certainly one of the most entertaining ways of making noise.
This was a journey from disappointment to total delight in one weekend.
Motoring Research works with Auto Italia to create news, car reviews and features for the UK’s leading specialist Italian car magazine – to read MR’s feature on the Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale, pick up a copy of Auto Italia issue #221, on sale now