There was a thread on PistonHeads recently discussing 'what's the best GT car?' Plenty of interesting contributions therein but to me it's a very easy question to answer. The car that best lives up to the Gran Turismo ideal is the one that carries the name.
MAY 17th 2016
Dan Trent: Maserati Granturismo S – THE GT
Because stuff just sounds better in Italian doesn't it. Just saying 'Maserati GranTurismo' has a beautiful rhythm and cadence to it, carrying with it a sense of the glamour and cool the GT lifestyle suggests. For my money Maserati is the only modern carmaker to successfully translate the elegance and beauty of classic GTs into the modern age. Back in the '50s heyday of such cars coachbuilders didn't have to worry about stuff like crumple zones or rollover protection; they just made the cars look beautiful. Even though it's been around since 2007 the GranTurismo is defiantly a modern car, not a retro pastiche. It's stronger for that but still riffs beautifully on the theme.
I have a bit of a thing for V12 Ferrari GTs too but even these have struggled at times, while the current F12 is now full-on front-engined supercar. It's a fabulous looking thing but just too aggressive in appearance and character to be a true GT. Even the much celebrated Alfa Romeo 4C – a car based on a shortened GranTurismo – looks like a cartoon caricature compared with the restrained elegance of the Maserati.
So. It's got the looks. It's got the glamour. It's a true four-seater. It's affordable, with prices starting from as low as £30K for early 4.2s. Seemingly it even bucks one stereotype of Italian GTs and is reliable, tough and able to rack up the miles if you accept the servicing costs will be on the chunky side of average.
Which one would I buy then? This is where it gets a little trickier. The last one I drove was an MC Stradale, the ruded-up version with a sensuously slatted bonnet and outrageously loud exhaust. I loved it and, though a big car, it drove beautifully. But the cheapest I could find is £80,000 and I suspect it's the earlier version without the back seats. I'm all for a sinister looking car too but the black on black wheels and black Alcantara interior are just a bit too much. It's a popular combination though, GranTurismo buyers clearly favouring blacks and silvers or, in the case of MC Stradales, garish two-tone white and carbon combinations.
Early 4.2s appeal for their price but they're all automatics. Call me masochistic but I quite like the drama of the clunky robotised manual and my purist streak likes the fact it's a more balanced transaxle layout, rather than conventionally bolted to the engine like the auto. It adds an element of theatre to the driving experience too, requiring thought and skill to smooth out the shifts.
So, a 4.7 S with the MC Shift it is then. And just look at this one. The dark metallic grey paint is subdued but classy, lifted just enough by the flash of yellow from the brake calipers. And inside the cream leather adds some welcome luxury to distract from the aging and disappointingly cheap switchgear. And it's nearly half the price of the cheapest MC Stradale. Pure class. I might have to invest in some smarter clothes before I felt appropriately dressed to be seen in it though. Live the dream and all that.
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