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Maserati GranTurismo Convertible Cruises Streets of Tiburon and Beyond

Maserati, that other Italian luxury car company, is known for building incredibly fine automobiles. Automobiles that 90 percent of us can only dream of seeing sitting in our driveways. Maseratis, however, continue to be vehicles more than just a few enthusiasts lust after. I will admit to being one of those enthusiasts who has always held Maserati vehicles in high regard. I am also one of those enthusiasts who are careful not to give unwarranted accolades. Which means there a number of automobiles that have gotten the big raspberry from me following an extensive test drive? Happily, this automobile isn’t on that list.

Last week the folks at Maserati called to offer me a few days in their latest offering, the GranTurismo Cabrio. This GT convertible offers Italian flare; comfort and luxury combined with performance that rate high on the excitement meter.
Let me make something very clear, I am an automotive enthusiast as well as a professional evaluator. I love automobiles and I love driving exciting vehicles. I am one who appreciates top down driving for many reasons, one of which is the exposure to the world around me and the sweet sounds of the vehicle, while I wonder the roads of America. That is why there are heaters in cars. Even in inclement weather the top goes down, the heater goes to high and the fun of open-air motoring continues.

Surprisingly, one of my fellow automotive media types, one who is head of a major “buff magazine,” recently wrote a missive on driving this very Maserati and included in the story that he could not bring himself to lower the roof because it was drizzling a little rain. Now I ask you, if you are an alleged auto journo wouldn’t you put the top down and enjoy the drive? Yep, I would and did too!

I am soooooo glad I did. Not only did I enjoy the fresh air and the sights and sounds of the San Francisco area around me it was the only true way to enjoy the delectable exhaust note emitted by this Italian motorcar.

The aerodynamics of the Maserati was so, that I enjoyed the open air even through a slight drizzle continued for nearly 100 miles of driving in and around San Francisco. Then it was north on Highway 1 to the village of Mendocino and beyond.

The interior is a collection of wonderfully soft leather, masterfully carved Rosewood trim and Italian styling that makes the driver and passenger feel coddled and comfortable. If there is one word that describes the Maserati it is emotional. Yet that term is so multi-level, for the emotions run high on many planes.

One glitch in a nearly unblemished interior is some of the controls are hidden below the instrument panel. Though these may be seldom used and perhaps once an owner becomes familiar with their location no longer an issue, it is an issue to note.

Now for the truly emotional aspect of my drive. Sitting under the hood is a powerful and wonderfully smooth 4.7-liter V-8 derived from Ferrari down to its red cam covers. This DOHC engine produces 433 horsepower and 361 lb-ft. of torque that translates to great acceleration from a stop and even more fun while passing slower vehicles.

Part of the driving satisfaction comes from the 6-speed ZF automatic/manual transmission. I say auto/manual because this is essentially a manual gear box with an automatic clutch. Added spirited driving comes via the F1 type paddle shifters on the steering column. As with most performance vehicles with this setup I was continually gliding up and down through the gears.

Shifting through the gears was not entirely because of the transmission. Another aspect of this Maserati making my experience even more hair tingling was the addition of the sport mode. By tapping the dash mounted switch the driver sets more aggressive throttle mapping, a stiffened suspension setting and a wonderful exhaust bypass valve that opens above 3,000 rpm and adds an exhaust wail that literally will make the hair on the back of you neck stand on end. You would swear you were sitting in the cockpit of a formula racer, yet much more comfortable.

If it were not for the $139,000 price to play I would have one of these sitting in my garage. However, on a motoring journo salary I do not see that happening soon, at least not for more than a day or two. I just have to be glad I had the opportunity to experience the GranTurismo convertible for a few days. Yea I am that big of a car nut that’s why I do what I do. It was once said, “Find a job you love to do and you will never work a day in your life.”

 

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