Archive for August, 2012

Who Knew a Maserati Granturismo Could Double as a Family Truckster?



It’s a no brainer that whenever someone offers you the keys to a Maserati for the weekend you take it.  Needless to say when the keys to a 2012 Granturismo Convertible were put in front of me I did not think twice and took them immediately.  Short of a quick ride down the block I had never logged any real seat time in a Maserati and was looking forward to the opportunity to really get acquainted with the car.  Italian cars are undoubtedly beautiful, sound great and provide a visceral driving experience, but I was really curious if all the negative idiosyncrasies I’ve heard about Italian cars were true.  Is the car more than just a pretty face?   Without giving too much away, I’ll tell you that the positive attributes definitely outweighed the negative and just plain strange attributes.

Admittedly, I do not fit the Maserati driver profile.  You see, I was on daddy-duty this weekend and used the car to transport my 8-month old, and all the associated gear that comes with an 8-month old, around town.  My first experience with the car was trying to get the car seat base tied into the back seats L.A.T.C.H. system.  This, I must say, was not easy and quickly learned that the folks in Italy who built the car must not have chubby sausage fingers like I do.  After a few attempts, though, I got the base situated and was ready to hit the road.

With the top down, sport button engaged and manual mode selected I headed home and picked up my wife and son for the obligatory Friday night drive in the Maserati.  It was during this drive home that a horrible thing happened – upon engaging 2nd gear and running the car from 3,500 to 4,000 rpms I heard the most intoxicating sound from the exhaust.  My old-world relatives on the Italian mainland might compare the sound to Pavarotti, Gigli or Bocelli, and it was this noise that singlehandedly reduced my weekend fuel economy to embarrassing low levels.  I just could not get enough of the sound and the associated burps and burbles when letting off the gas.

Surprisingly, the whole family fit in the car comfortably and my wife had more than enough leg room in front, despite the child seat directly behind her.  During my younger years I suffered through a number of family road trips in the backseat of a 911 and I must say things would have been much different if I were in back of the Gran Turismo.   When a friend hopped in the back seat for a ride across town she said it was surprisingly comfortable.  This is undoubtedly something you will not find in most 4-seater convertibles.

Behind the wheel the car offered great comfort on short neighborhood runs and also on longer trips across town.   With 450hp on tap the Gran Turismo definitely gets the job done and you can quickly find yourself exceeding speed limits, not that I ever did (wink wink).  I could easily see someone driving cross country with ease, and probably a few speeding tickets.  Just be sure to check your mirrors frequently, because there is a chance that you might unknowingly adjust the mirror with your left leg.    When faced with a hairpin turn, the Gran Turismo took it with ease.  Despite its positioning as a grand tourer, the Maserati is no slouch in the twisties, offering good steering weighting and flat handling.

I’ve driven a lot of nice cars before and this car ranked in the top five for head turners.  I’d argue that people enjoyed seeing it nearly as much as I enjoyed driving it.  Much like the Romans turned blocks of Carrara marble into awe inspiring monuments, their modern day ancestors have turn sheets of steel, aluminum and leather into beautiful sculpture.  And of course they have brought a strong touch of exclusivity and Italian culture to the brand.  This was all appreciated when I brought the car to Wheels of Italy (WOI), Minneapolis’ annual celebration of all vehicles Italian.

Despite an abundance of multi-million dollar vintage Ferraris, exotic Lamborghinis and cute old Alfas at WOI, the Maserati garnered a lot of attention.  A number of people commented on the beautiful color combination.  While you might say the car is gray with brown interior, the Italians would quickly rebuke saying it is Grigio Granito Metallic with Marrone Corniola interior.  Doesn’t that roll off the tongue nicely?  The highlight for me, though, was when a woman looked inside and asked what the child seat was for?  I wanted to tell her that it was just for decoration, but I held my tongue.

All in all the Granturismo honestly took everything I threw at it with stride.  Rush hour traffic? Check.  Rainy weather? No problem.  Three passengers?  Nessun problema.  A trunk full of groceries?  Fuhget about it! It is a Maserati convertible after all.  You should be taking it out to dinner and parking it in front of your favorite Italian restaurant, not exploring how many roma tomatoes you can fit in the trunk.   Reminiscing on my weekend date with the Maserati, I could easily see a 2nd date down the road.