Work-Life Balance: Updated Grand Tourer Brings Peace and Harmony
Your doctor — who might have a Maserati in the garage — will say keeping a proper work/life balance does wonders for your well-being. But as we all know, finding equilibrium is sometimes easier said than done.
If you’re running with a crowd that can afford $100K-plus Grand Touring coupes and want to stabilize your work and life seesaw, the new 2013 Maserati GranTurismo Sport is an enticing proposition. Having relieved the GranTurismo S Automatic as the “entry-level” Maser, the GT Sport aims to appeal to a wide range of customers, all of whom probably have different requests and desires for their at-minimum $129,500 acquisition (list MSRP plus destination/inspection and gas-guzzler tax). If you think that’s expensive, be reminded even the well-off look for value in their purchases, and this seductress from Modena is armed with a long list of updates. Follow along to learn why the GT Sport is the very model of work/life balance bliss.
According to the Maserati product planning department, its prototypical buyer is more likely to take the plunge when they’ve reached 55 years of age. Someone with the means to spring for a GranTurismo Sport presumably has many professional and personal obligations, as we’re told the average GranTurismo is driven more miles throughout the year than its similarly priced competitors, suggesting the GT Sport will have to hold its own going to the office, pulling up to the country club, and hauling the occasional child around. The buyer no doubt has good taste, considering the GT Sport’s restrained yet elegant shape and proportions.
The GT Sport addresses work priorities with financial considerations and design refinements intended to make everyday driving as hassle-free as possible. Maserati says it’s holding its year-over-year MSRP increase to less than 1 percent in spite of currency flux between the dollar and euro, and that includes accounting for differences in equipment. The new front parking sensors (four in total) and warning system are a source of great company pride. A lot of time was spent collecting information and measurements on all potential obstacles that could possibly ding up the restyled front fascia and its functional ducts. The GT Sport’s front bumper cover drew inspiration from the limited-production GranTurismo MC.
Being detail-oriented is an asset in the workplace, and the GT Sport is stocked with thoughtful touches inside and out. The headlight lens covers are new and it doesn’t cost anything to change between the available 20-inch rim designs, but wheel paint is extra. The cabin features a smartly revamped flat-bottom steering wheel. The seat headrests are now integrated and the cushioning has been modified for both comfort and support. The driver’s seat is noticeably firmer on the lower and upper back than the passenger’s side. There isn’t a ton of bolstering anywhere, but the obvious tradeoff is easy ingress and egress. The center stack and navigation software might be the GT Sport’s least graceful attributes, but there is a number pad for dialing out on business calls. As is the norm in this price realm, the attention paid to personalization and color selection is staggering.
I’ve been asked several times what it’s like to have access to (very) expensive cars as part of my job. The answer is always the same: it’s intimidating. You never want to mess up someone else’s car, and anxiety goes up exponentially once the over-$100K barrier is breached. In this stratosphere, every vehicle has extra-broad shoulders and you worry about side mirrors not supplying wide-enough views. But in the GranTurismo Sport, outward visibility is no challenge, and sitting near the genteel cruiser’s center (lengthwise) offers tremendous feeling of what the car is doing and where it needs to be placed on the road. You’ll never feel more at peace mooching around town and then trying to park in an unbelievably tight spot.
I don’t know a lick of Italian, which seems to put me at a disadvantage for reviewing Maseratis. (I learned this after digging around for other Maser write-ups.) Somewhere in the auto journalist’s handbook, in the section titled “Maserati,” there’s a provision that all reviews must include an Italian phrase proclaiming exhilaration, or a reference to Italian culture, preferably music-related (more specifically, opera). The music, as you’d surmise, alludes to the inimitable Ferrari-assembled Maserati 4.7-liter V-8.
Now packing 454 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque, the GT Sport is 0.1 second slower to 60 mph than the last GranTurismo we tested — a 2009 GT S with 433 hp, 361 lb-ft, and the racy Ricardo auto-clutch-manual — but sounds divine all the same. Paolo Martinelli, who oversaw Scuderia Ferrari’s V-10s during Herr Schumacher’s crimson reign, is now hard at work on Maserati engines. Under Martinelli’s watch, the GT Sport’s 4.7 received new pistons, revised ignition-spark timing, and retuned engine mapping and management. Sound engineers were tasked with extracting the trident-bearing marque’s particular aural qualities. Tap the Sport button to open the exhaust bypass valves, flatfoot the gas pedal, and be a star to sidewalk passersby and exotic-car-owning aspirants everywhere.
Life can be pretty sweet when your car sounds amazing. It gets better when the recalibrated ZF 6-speed automatic (based on the GT MC unit) proves itself adept when lazing along or in heat. The V-8 and auto transmission operate in perfect harmony; even the quickest 200-millisecond shifts actuated via the column-mounted paddles don’t feel as severe as you’d think. A three-pedal manual tranny would have been more engaging, but doesn’t match Maserati’s mission. Entertainingly, the tachometer has difficulty staying with the cleanly pulling engine, often visually hitting redline after the engine has run out of breath.
Like sharing the driving experience with friends and family? Maserati representatives are adamant the backseat is suitable for adults, and all I can say is, yes, a grown-up or two will technically fit. Ride quality straddles the line between just right and a tad too tight, depending on how you like your setups. The GT Sport’s standard, adaptive Skyhook suspension has a 10 percent higher spring rate and uses 10 percent stiffer anti-roll bars than previous suspensions.
Drive solo, and you may be surprised. I was. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the handling, but it turned out to be as charming as the GranTurismo Sport’s knockout snorts and crackles. The poised 49/51 percent front/rear weight distribution helps mask the car’s 4260 pounds. Nailing the balance and chassis tune makes the GT Sport an exceedingly satisfying car to drive. Being in Sport mode is key – the throttle is touchier, the transmission shift logic is more aggressive, the steering is heavier, the shocks work a little harder, and you hear more of the Maserati bark. The steering presents the driver with a fine sense of control without overwhelming feedback, and the 245mm front and 285mm rear Pirelli PZeros allow 0.97 g of lateral grip. The car’s load transfer is deliberate and it responds predictably during side-to-side transitions with encouraging precision – around the figure eight, its 24.9-second run equals our old long-term E90 BMW M3 (571 pounds lighter), amongst other performance-focused machines like a new Porsche Boxster and several Mercedes-Benz AMGs. That’s solid company for a two-door that isn’t trying to be a hard-edged land missile.
At the core of it, our lives and the work/life balance are constant juggling acts. We give some here and give some there in the hope our lives proceed with smoothness. The GranTurismo Sport is the definition of smooth. For its $136,435 as-tested price, much faster sports cars and more lavish barges lurk in the shadows, as the comments below will no doubt attest. But they’d be hard pressed to match the equilibrium the GT Sport brings to life.
|2013 Maserati GranTurismo Sport|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$136,435|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front engine, RWD, 4-pass, 2-door coupe|
|ENGINE||4.7L/454-hp/384-lb-ft DOHC 32-valve V-8|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||4260 lb (49/51%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||192.2 x 75.4 x 53.3 in|
|0-60 MPH||4.6 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||13.1 sec @ 109.2 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||102 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.97 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||24.9 sec @ 0.80 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON||13/21 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||259/160 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS||1.24 lb/mile|