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2009 Maserati GranTurismo S
A Grand Tourer with the soul of an Exotic
By Jeff Voth, Jul. 09, 2009

The “S” in Maserati GranTurismo S stands for many things according to the illustrious Italian automaker. The list includes sport, style, shifting fast, side skirts, seven spoke wheels and superior comfort among others. But one word above all describes the purpose built speed machine from Modena; sexy. When it comes to good looks and going fast, the new GranTurismo S is in a league of its own.

FAST FACTS

1. Powered by a 4.7-liter V8 with 433hp the GranTurismo S can hit 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds.

2. The standard GranTurismo makes 405hp for a 0-60 mph time of 5.1 seconds.

3. The GranTurismo S is available with an ultra-quick-shifting paddle-actuated gearbox or with a traditional automatic.

4. The S is priced from $135,000, a $17,500 premium over the standard GranTurismo.

Driving a premium sport touring car such as the GranTurismo S is best achieved without the constraints of a cell phone or schedule. Time is required to fully appreciate the craftsmanship and passion that go into making this grand automobile.

No detail has been overlooked by the engineers. So what better place could there be to truly experience their handiwork than driving full-bore through the Italian countryside? From seniors to small children, people stop whatever it is they are doing to stare with admiration and pride at your passing.

MASERATI UPS THE ANTE WITH MORE POWER

The driving force of the 2009 Maserati GranTurismo S is a 4.7-liter V8 engine. When asked the difference between this engine and the 4.2-liter V8 found in the standard GranTurismo, Paul Fickers, the man responsible for bringing both vehicles to light, jokingly stated it has red cylinder head covers instead of blue. True, but as Mr. Fickers went on to explain, there is much more to the story than just color.

The hottest version yet in a series of wet-sump engines developed by Ferrari, it produces 433 horsepower at 7000 rpm and 361 ft-lbs of torque at 4750 rpm. Bore and stroke have been increased significantly. The front engine GranTurismo S takes full advantage of the added power by mating it to a 6-speed electro-actuated gearbox, enabling a 0-60 mph sprint of 4.8 seconds. Top speed is 183 mph.

Weight distribution is exemplary; 47-53% front to rear. Housed in a rigid tube, the driveshaft transfers power to the rear located transmission and drive wheels. Within the transmission lies the secret strength of the GranTurismo S and one of the reasons why it is so easy to drive fast.

Steering wheel mounted paddle-shifters activate the race-ready transmission. In normal driving, each gear change is accomplished sequentially in minimal time. Pressing buttons on the dash allows the driver to toggle between Auto and Sport.

A second push of the Auto button reveals the true beast hidden beneath. What Maserati refers to as MC-Shift causes every gear change to slightly overlap. Above 5500 rpm, shift time is reduced to an astonishing 100 milliseconds.

The overall effect affords performance previously attainable only on selected Ferrari models and F1 race cars. Pull the paddle shifter towards you and the resplendent “pop bang” sound of a new gear is sure to send a chill down your spine.

The braking system found on the GranTurismo S was developed in collaboration with renowned supplier Brembo. Featured solely on Maserati cars for the next few years, it highlights dual-cast technology on the front brake discs. A cast iron braking surface works in conjunction with the aluminum hub and six-piston mono-bloc brake calipers to provide near instantaneous stopping power. Maserati lists the car’s stopping distance from 60 mph at an excellent 114 feet.

THIS ITALIAN BEAUTY IS SURE TO DRAW A CROWD

Exclusive on the “S” model are 20-inch 7-spoke alloy rims shod with Pirelli P-Zero 245/35/20 tires that provide excellent on-road feedback. This can sometimes translate into a harsh ride when crossing potholes or rough pavement, but what it gives up in ride comfort the GranTurismo S more than makes up for in driving performance.

Once on the highways where the asphalt is generally undamaged and traffic flows freely, the stiffer suspension is fully appreciated. Turn-ins are crisp and power-sliding out of a corner with the rear fully committed is absolute fun!

On one specific occasion we found a beautiful section of two-lane country road and decided to make several passes up and down for pure indulgence. The main corner on our small circuit crested a barn close to road, followed by a short straight and then sweeping left and right turns. Tall grass provided a tunnel effect, heightening my sense of impending glory.

A quick flick of the steering wheel, combined with a sensitive right foot on both gas and brake pedals, lead to rousing cheers from the elderly men who had gathered to watch our mini grand prix.

Blipping the transmission down an extra gear didn’t hurt, as the sweet chorus of the Maserati V8 bounced off tightly-knit buildings. Nowhere else but in the home country of Italy could this experience carry such weight and significance. It was an experience to be treasured for years to come.

THE VERDICT

With the introduction of the GranTurismo S, Maserati continues to expand the product line and garner the attention of those seeking performance and luxury at the stratospheric end of the market. The “S” model is priced at $135,000, a worthwhile $17,500 premium over the standard GranTurismo model.

Production expectations call for 300 units on a yearly basis, but based on demand, the factory is ready to build more. With stunning looks, power to spare and solid build quality, a second shift may soon be necessary in Modena. It seems “S” stands for a few more things than originally thought.

PLUS
  • Fast, never furious
  • Drop dead gorgeous
  • Intoxicating exhaust note
MINUS
  • Stiff ride
  • Expensive to maintain
  • Limited trunk space