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Maserati GranCabrio

Click to view picture gallery“Maseratis stunning GranCabrio
  two-door, full four-seater convertible
  joins the revised Quattroporte four-
  door sports saloon and GranTurismo
  two-door sports coupe ranges

MASERATI, LIKE ITS FELLOW FIAT GROUP-OWNED FERRARI brand, is no volume manufacturer and it will build just 5,900 cars this year for worldwide markets, with the USA being the largest then Italy followed by the UK and Germany China is heading for a top-three position soon. In the UK, Maserati will attract around 514 discerning customers this year and 231 of them will be the lucky owners of the new GranCabrio and half of these are already sold.

Maserati, along with its Ferrari brand 'twin', is sold in the UK through 13 dealerships but whereas Ferraris tend to be used for 'high days and holidays', Maseratis are traditionally used all the time as everyday high-performance cars to 'get down and get dirty' with in all weathers.

Of course, Maserati has to compete with other premium brands such as Porsche, Jaguar, Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Aston Martin and Bentley but these are volume manufacturers whereas Maserati is a niche, low-volume, bespoke manufacturer with a huge and long motorsport pedigree so the scarcity and desirability values are huge.

The Maserati prices seem huge as well, but in this class they are all relative. The new GranCabrio costs from 96,175 but then there is a whole range of extra-cost options which can be added to create the owner's ideal bespoke model. These additional items range from a variety of colours for the brake callipers to Pearlescent paint, hood-down windstop, Bose surround sound system, Homelink garage door opener, various wood trim finishes and even custom-built luggage.

Maseratis are all about style and the GranCabrio is no exception. It is precisely what it is called — a 'grand cabriolet' with two large opening doors but, unusually, four full-sized seats and with relatively good rear passenger leg and headroom. The multi-layered fabric hood is, naturally, power-operated (taking just 28 seconds to open) and it is stowed out of sight behind the rear seats and in the front section of a smallish boot. Pop-up rollover bars operate, if needed, whether the hood is up or down.

“Standard equipment
is luxurious and
of very high quality.
Just looking at the
quality and symmetry of
the stitching in the
upholstery, trim panels
and even the sun-visors
shows just how detailed
the refinement is
Standard equipment is luxurious and of very high quality. Just looking at the quality and symmetry of the stitching in the upholstery, trim panels and even the sun-visors shows just how detailed the refinement is.

The sumptuous interior specification includes electrically-operated windows and mirrors, folding front and rear central armrests, electrically-operated front seats, leather upholstery, alarm system and NavTrack vehicle tracking function, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control with front and rear outlets, power-opening 'assists' for the doors and boot lid, multi-media system (incorporating satellite navigation, stereo sound system, Bluetooth and traffic information), front, side and window airbags and ambient lighting.

Externally, the Pininfarina-designed body is a work of art. Just under five metres long, this is a big and heavy car and it is styled to be muscular with a distinctive grille, high wheel arches, deeply sculptured sides and wide-stance rear finished off with dual twin tailpipes and 20-inch Trident alloy wheels.

As for the technical highlights, there is a 4.7-litre V8 petrol engine providing 434bhp and 362lb ft (in 'old' currency) of torque with drive to the rear wheels through a six-speed ZF automatic gearbox which can be left in full auto mode or operated by paddles behind the steering wheel.

Top speed is 175mph and zero to 62mph takes 5.3 seconds. Fuel consumption is 18.5mpg in the Combined Cycle and on test 18.3mpg was my actual figure. With CO2 emissions of 354g/km the GranCabrio incurs the highest level of road tax duty — 950 for the new First Year VED rate and thereafter 435 annually. For those fortunate company car drivers — and most Maserati owners are business people — the Benefit-in-Kind personal tax is a maximum 35 per cent.

The GranCabrio is fitted with Maserati's Skyhook continuously variable suspension system which on its standard setting can be firm on our poor roads but push the Sport button and the ride gets very firm and severe bumps and potholes will send shudders and shakes through the bodyshell.

When the going
gets slower,
the GranCabrio is easy
and docile;
very flexible in its
power delivery and not
at all hard work in
commuter traffic
The Sport button also sharpens up the accelerator and gearchange points for a more sporty response — it is just a shame the suspension settings function cannot operate separately from the sharper engine and transmission response in Sport mode. Traction and stability controls are, of course, standard. The steering is beautifully weighted and very accurate but, given the car's weight, the brakes could be better if they offered more bite and feel.

The GranCabrio is more than a stunning design; it is a real driver's car which will bring huge enjoyment when conditions allow. At other times, when the going gets slower, it is easy and docile; very flexible in its power delivery and not at all hard work in commuter traffic. The open road and long journeys in the fresh air is where this car deserves to be but for all other occasions it still excels for its stunning looks and Maserati ownership pride.

Buy one and you'll have to accept high costs, small boot space, some body shake and a firm ride, especially in Sport mode. But just consider the plus points: stunning good looks, lavish and beautifully-executed interior, full four-seat convertible accommodation and very low wind noise intrusion with the hood down. So, a grand tourer with a grand heritage and a memorable, howling exhaust tone. Thank goodness cars like this still exist and the eco-police and the tax robbers have not buried them forever. — David Miles

Maserati GranCabrio
| 96,175
Maximum speed: 175mph | 0-62mph: 5.3 seconds | Overall test MPG: 18.3mpg
Power: 434bhp | Torque: 362lb ft | CO2 354g/km