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Road Test: 2011 Maserati GranCabrio Sport
The Maserati GranCabrio has passed by our front page before and featured in a road test in the Summer of last year. A new sportier version of the convertible GranTurismo is now available under the name GranCabrio Sport and we were given the option to drive test one of the most stunning-looking drop-tops on the planet. The Sport offers more power, quicker gear changes, a louder exhaust and a revised suspension.
Until the moment when new a model series is released at the end of this year and early next year, Maserati will be perfecting the art of applying subtle changes to existing models to create new variants that appeal to new buyers. Currently, the basic concept of any model in the Maserati portfolio is founded on a layout released about five years ago. After so many years it is time for new fresh blood in luxury and sportive veins of the Italian car maker.
The GranCabrio Sport is an excellent example of applying this art and a final hoorah for the four-seater convertible. The tweaking makes the attractive convertible into one with more appealing driving characteristics. Differences you should clearly feel while driving it and some which are a great addition to the lineup, but never fully cover up the weaknesses of the heavy roofless Maser.
At the front of the four-seater an all-alloy, normally aspirated, 4.7 liter engine sourced from the GranTurismo MC Stradale is fitted delivering 450 horses at 7,000rpm and 510Nm of torque at 4,750rpm. The melodious 4.7 liter V8 takes you and three friends to 100km/h in only 5.2 seconds, which is 0.2 seconds faster than the less powerful GranCabrio. The top speed is slightly higher at 285km/h.
The engine has less internal friction and an improved fuel consumption by a claimed six percent, thanks to a revised oil sump and slipperier Diamond-Like Coating (DLC) for the tappets and camshaft lobes. The extra power is derived to the streets through a slightly revised MC Shift six-speed ZF automatic gearbox and an adapted Skyhook active-suspension system.
The gear change times have been halved from 400ms to 200ms and each downshift is now accompanied by an aggressive blip of the throttle when the sport mode is engaged. The transmission can be controlled manually via the steering wheel mounted carbon fiber Trofeo Design paddles. These are now a few centimeters longer to make changing gear easier.
The uprated Skyhook suspension system is fitted as standard to this car and features aluminium dampers that constantly adjust the ride. Skyhook is managed by a control unit that receives data from acceleration sensors positioned on each wheel and on the chassis. It offers a really comfortable and soft ride thanks to spring rates increased by 15 percent and roll stiffness by 20 percent. With respect to the ‘normal’ GranCabrio the ride had clearly improved!
Engaging sport mode means that the handling and steering tightens, the throttle response sharpens, the gear changes are quicker and the valve in the exhaust opens up. The soundtrack is truly astonishing and one of the best available. As an extra the GranCabrio Sport offers you the option to enjoy it with four people, because the convertible offers enough space for four medium sized adults.
The main problem with the GranCabrio Sport is its weight of 1,980kg. The Sport is simply too heavy and it is felt throughout the ride. In comfort it is a wonderful four-seat cruiser for the South Mediterranean, but when Sport is engaged you ask for more agility and precision. Both are simply not there! Another remark are the brakes, which are revised with respect to the ‘slower’ GranCabrio but did not seem to provide us with any extra confidence.
This Maserati GranCabrio Sport is nothing more than an evolution with respect to the GranCabrio. It offers a more refined ride and an astonishing soundtrack through its new sports exhaust system. Unfortunately, the Sport is nowhere near sporty enough to carry its name like others do, an ‘S’ would have been more relevant. The handling, steering and brake feel do not deliver the ultimate sportiveness in sport mode, which we had hoped for. Instead Maserati went for a slight increase in sportiveness without sacrificing the levels of comfort. In the end this sounds quite reasonable.
The new Sport is simply the best option for customers requesting a luxury Italian car, four seats and a removal roof. No other option is available within its price range. Its deeply elegant and relentlessly charismatic presence makes it unique in a way no other four-seater convertible can offer and for many this is a sufficient compensation for any of the shortfalls in its performance and handling.