Maserati Is Still A Spine Tingling Italian Exotic Feels

IF YOU DROWN OUT THE CHAOS OF THE lives we are living while gazing at an hourglass, you come to a point where two things exist, the sand and you. Every falling particle is a fraction of a second and when many of them fall together at speed, you can’t put a number to time passing by. Somewhere right there, you are lost in time. It could be day or night, 2007 or 2017. Time at that moment is not running fast or slow, it is just right. Just like the time a Maserati GranTurismo Sport rolls into the shoulder of a road we are waiting at, on an overcast morning in Mumbai. You stop and stare and time passes by as the chaos is drowned in the beauty of the GranTurismo.

A decade ago, Apple launched the first iPhone and Maserati launched the GranTurismo. You get an iPhone 7 now. How times have changed with phones taking massive leaps in technology. The makers are making them more addictive than they were back then, but also making people disconnect, for lack of a better word, with the people around them. It is similar with cars in the past decade or two. Almost every other engine that drives us these days is turbocharged, fake exhaust notes are piped through speakers, steering is electrically-assisted and there is air in bellows instead of conventional springs to cushion you from bumps. The good news is (common knowledge actually), the GranTurismo has none of them. In 20-effing-17, this is a car from 2007, (the GT Sport variant came in 2012) showing us how old school is still cool.

Some bits of the GT S are so tacky, even with a trident on the key; it would pass off as a Japanese hatchback if you didn’t look at the car. The interior is positively old, not dared or aging. The plastics couldn’t be worse, the steering wheel is a mix of carbonfibre and an old man’s receding hairline and well, with the number of buttons on the centre console, you could either drive or push buttons. It will get on your nerves as it got on mine. That lasts till you crank it up. Crank it up, make sure the steering is straight, hit the Sport but to non the centre console and test the strength of the firewall with the sole of your right foot. The classic analogue tacho redlines to 7500rpm, the Ferrari-built 4.7-litre V8 performs a Pavarotti aria and second gear comes in at a slightly more leisurely pace than shifts from modern day PDK ’boxes. Second gear at the same pace and the toll booth at the Bandra-Worli sea link appear rather too quickly. A queue at the gates to the best (one and only) driving road in Mumbai gives me a few minutes to gather my thoughts. Old interior, hot exterior, quick car, a shimmy in the wet and a Ferrari soundtrack. This day couldn’t get better.

The rain got a little stronger so I rolled up the windows and well, left the toll booth with the kind of enthusiasm that should have triggered an early morning police chase, but I was in the clear. You could attribute that to the soulful Italian singing to the pleasure of the Mumbaikars. I have heard of stories of Ferraris and Maseratis getting away with breaking the law on the winding roads of Italy (try it at your own risk) and maybe I was getting a little carried away, but I’m not to blame. Everyone is allowed a moment of weakness. Once I passed that moment, I was wondering where the sound had been drowned though.

The GranTurismo is as the name suggests, a grand tourer. It has a V8 up front but with the windows rolled up and in Mumbai’s ambient noise, all you can hear is a light rumble. There is plenty of leather and thick glass to shield you from the noise, and I get that it’s an essential attribute for a GT. But nothing on the inside? Really? It’s hard to get past that and maybe you will use the air-conditioning in the Maserati a lot less because of this.

It signals the purity of thought though, that separates a GT from the aura of a Maserati There needs to be drama and a larger than life character to every car that wears a trident on its grille, but it also needs to be a car you would want to drive long distances. Maybe not in India with the kind of roads we have, but you could cross countries in Europe. It is that comfortable. The seats ate lovely, wide and adjustable, and the driving position is just right. You can just get in and drive without any intimidation. Then there is the motor that makes 453 horsepower at 7000rpm. The increasing decibels of its rumble as you extract all of those 453 Italian thoroughbreds will make the wax in your ears melt in joy. It does the 0-100kmph sprint in a leisurely 4.8 seconds which is laughable compared to current standards of even a six banger’s quickness, let alone the blisteringly quick V8s, but the way the Maserati sounds and delivers its punch can suck the soul out of M3s of this age.

It’s not just the engine and exhaust note that gives you the thrills but the hydraulic steering and the suspension too. There’s more feeling them than any fast car I have driven in the recent past. It may be a little too heavy at parking speeds and the suspension isn’t as sophisticated as the cars of the present but they don’t break your back or build your biceps so what’s the harm in being a little old school? Now I haven’t given it the beans on a winding road so it is a little early to pass judgement on its handling ability but from what I gather in the wet, the GT has more oversteer dialled in than undersreer when you approach the limits of the tyre’s grip and this is a lot easier to access than I expected, so exiting corners on hill climbs should be fun. It is still a heavy car at almost 1.9 tonnes so don’t expect a switchback monster, but there should be grace and fluidity in its proceedings going by the feedback from the steering and tyres and the power delivery of the naturally aspirated motor.

What you will get for a good haggle is an understated Italian exotic that turns more heads than anything Germany offers. The curves that form its fenders ooze massive sex appeal, the pointy grille housing the chromed trident has a race car’s aggression, the gills on its sides are a signature element more popular than a celebrity’s autograph, and it’s one of those rare modern day cars that still credits the iconic design house that penned this beauty with their name on the side. The GranTurismo Sport is a modern classic.

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