Belfast Telegraph

Truly Grand

Designed primarily to cover long distances at speed and in comfort, the Maserati Gran Turismo S is also the perfect symbol of prestige - super craftmanship and attention to detail without even a hint of flash - says Jim McCauley

Every inch the Italian supermodel. Clothed in its delicate Pininfarina wrap, the pouted Maserati grille and flared bonnet lines fix your attention. Let your eyes stray and the toned figure asserts its dominance in this most desirable of Italian supercars.

Inside, the external elegance defers to sheer luxury in what is a practical four-seater cabin with clear access to the rear via the folding and electrically sliding front seats.

Slip into the leather luxury and turn the key to listen in anticipation to the 440hp burbling beneath the V8’s red cam covers. These confirm that it is the larger 4.7 litre engine and the ultimate ‘S’ model fitted with automatic transmission. Select ‘Drive’ and brace for a rapid departure, but the power winds in gently allowing the driver to gracefully ease the car into mid-day traffic. Stay gentle on the throttle until the open road beckons and the increase in speed is heralded by the gathering storm that emits from the paired double exhaust pipes. The car provokes a symphony of emotions which nevertheless must not distract from the practicalities. From rest, the car sees 62mph in just five seconds while a mid-range surge from 50 to 75mph takes just 3.3 seconds. On track, and a kilometre is dispatched from rest in 23.3 seconds with an exit speed of 141mph confirming its breathtaking potential.

This is a large car, its flowing lines disguising the fact that it provides comfortable four-seater accommodation, but its on-road precision shrink-wraps it around the driver to deliver immense driving satisfaction.

The controls are perfectly weighted while the automatic transmission performs effortlessly with no thought of wanting to resort to manual override.

The six-speed ZF transmission provides smooth changes in its normal default settings in addition to full manual operation. ‘Sport’ mode holds gears longer to change at much higher engine speeds — as high as 7,200rpm — while also augmenting the exhaust note so that the full roar of the V8 can be appreciated. ‘Ice’ mode applies a series of adjustments to optimise the car’s traction in poor conditions.

To fully exploit the extra performance potential of the car, it is fitted with the Skyhook suspension system which uses acceleration sensors to register the movements of each wheel as well as the body angle of the car. A dedicated high-speed control unit processes this data and then instantly adapts the setting of the shock absorbers as appropriate.

The Skyhook system provides further adjustment allowing the driver to adapt the dynamic behaviour of the car to best suit individual driving style and the road conditions.

And although the real purpose of the car is to cover long distances at excellent pace and in exotic comfort, the Maserati Gran Turismo goes further in that it is also a symbol of prestige. The restrained yet charismatic interior spells quality with subtle chrome detailing, sumptuous hand-crafted leather and soft Alcantara trim, all of which create an overall image which cannot fail to impress

In this combination of superb engineering, delicate design and unquestionable craftsmanship, the Gran Turismo guardian displays ownership of one the finest statements of Italian design — a choice that reflects the quality appreciation of the owner.

Maserati Gran Turismo S

Engine: 4.7litre, V8. 440 bhp @ 7000 rpm. 490 Nm torque @ 4750rpm.

Drive: To rear wheels via 6-speed ZF automatic transmission

Performance: 0-62mph (100km/h) in 5.0 seconds; max, 183 mph ( 295 km/h)

Fuel on combined cycle: 18.6 mpg (15.2 l/100km)

CO2: 354 gms/km; VED Band M for annual car tax of £460 (second year onwards)

Trim: Sole specification

Price: £88,670

Insurance: ABI Group 50/50

Warranty: 3-year / Unlimited mileage

Benefit-in-Kind: 35 per cent

Available extras: Metallic paint £564, Shadow line trim (body coloured door handles, black window surrounds and exhaust tail pipes) £720, Space saver spare wheel £600, Front seat comfort pack (heating, memory settings, steering column with ‘easy entry’ function) £1320, Exotic wood interior trim (choice of timbers) £1,560, Personal selection of interior colours £720.

Belfast Telegraph