Friday, August 1, 2014

Maserati Grantourismo: Owner's Report

This is admittedly not an article based upon my work as an aviation artist, even though it is here published on my aviation art Blog. Truth be told: I wasn't about to start a new Blog just to articulate my view of the Maserati Grantourismo after one month of ownership. My aviation artwork success bought this car - I suppose that's a connection that can justify its publication on my art Blog. I guess.

What can I say about this machine built in Modena after a full 30 days of ownership; driving it almost endlessly around my small Ohio town even when I could take the Acura, conveniently forgetting this and that in order to justify another short trip behind it's elegant piano black steering wheel? A lot! So much, in fact, that it's hard to pick a place to start.

Without going into the history of this particular Maserati design and its pedigree, it is nevertheless a creation of Pininfarina and Ferrari. The latter is responsible for the V8 under the hood, and the former for its coch work. Maserati has never claimed that this car was deliberately made to embody the amazing 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB in both spirit and looks - but it is, every bit as much as Ford's vaunted 'GT' is a new GT40. If the 275 happens to be your all time favorite car, as it has been mine for years, then you may well find yourself finding a way to put a Grantourismo in your garage. That's exactly what happened to me.

Ferrari 275 GTB by Pininfarina.
If you've never owned an Italian car before then buying a car like this has much in common with exploring a newly discovered alien planet. It is very different. Coming at this car from an Infiniti G37S coupe, it was totally new to me. But newbies are not alone and we chat among ourselves in online forums: Does your CEL pop on and then turn off for no reason? Is it true that the car remains electronically 'on' unless the doors are locked? Could anyone test that? The answer to most alarmist inquiries is that it's an 'Italian quirk'. And this car has a few of those, though still far less than most of its predecessors.

The Grantourismo is a very reliable car that, according to many, can certainly be a daily driver that even handles snow relatively well (it has a button to turn on 'snow mode' after all). Drive it hard and drive it often. It won't break more often than any other car - but it will cost a small fortune to fix. Very true. The nearest certified dealership is 90 miles away from me and charges $250 per-hour. Note to self.

Driving this car is pure joy, and my non-race-car-driver wife wholly agrees. In 'normal' mode you'd think you were driving a Bentley. It's smooth as glass and quiet as can be. Too quiet, in my opinion. I want to hear more of that famous Ferrari exhaust note, but that pleasure belongs only to the drivers around you. The transmission in this car is arguably the best system that money can buy. It syncs perfectly under all conditions, and if you're a professional driver who thinks he can manually shift this car faster or better - you're wrong. It's that quick and flawless. No wonder this car is not available as a manual.

Push the 'sport mode' button and all sorts of things happen that helps explain why people think this is actually two cars wrapped into one. The exhaust opens up, the suspension stiffens, and the gear ratios change. I drive my Maserati in sport mode almost all of the time. If anything negative can be said about this system, it's that you get used to the feeling of one mode and when you switch to the other the difference can be mildly disconcerting. This happened to me today on the way to Columbus. I disengaged 'sport' and I spent the next ten miles trying to determine if my tires had lost some air, or what. It was just the suspension in 'Bentley' mode!

This Maserati has, what I sincerely believe to be, ferocious power. In top gear with 'sport' off, press the accelerator and you think you're hitting light speed in Han Solo's Falcon. Much quicker and it would scare me. Off the line it's exactly .4 seconds slower than Jaguar's monster XKR with its 510 hp (the car I almost bought). It can reliably destroy 95% of anything it's likely to encounter in its life - should that be one's ambition. Yet other reviewers have called the Grantourismo 'somewhat under-powered'. I have to ask: Compared to what???

But as a vehicle I want my wife to drive as often as I do, this is not a car that is very capable of getting itself into trouble. So far I've found it impossible to overwhelm the rear wheels in a corner, for example. Race purists might be annoyed by that, but it's also true that I haven't turned the traction control system off yet.

I lucked out on the interior of this car. It's a beautiful light tan leather, black suede, and piano black combination. The leather stitching exactly matches the exterior paint. I'm a designer, and I could not have conjured up a more elegant combination myself. I love it! Having said that, we can't expect that Modena cared for long term resilience when it picked its leathers, nor to have put function over form when it mapped out the controls. Better than other Italians it is, but there are still 'quirks'. There are no cruise control buttons on the steering wheel, for example. Those buttons are only to operate the Bose sound system, but they're so unresponsive that I just go straight to the dash. But pretty? Oh, yes! And in spite of these quirks I can't say I'd change a thing if it detracted from the overall visual appeal.

Last but not least, this car comes with a selection of baggage that might be deemed a positive or a negative, depending upon the person behind the wheel. Because I'm a very socially reclusive person, to me it can be a bit of a negative. Driving this car is like driving a Broadway show on wheels! Yes, everyone looks at you. Yes, those girls in the rear view mirror are taking pictures of your car with their cell phones. Yes, you will be stopped by people in most parking lots, and you will smile, be nice, and give them a personal tour no matter how busy your day is - because you can't be 'that jerk' in the Maserati. It exhausts me sometimes. I feel very under the microscope, and that's why I tinted the windows midway through the third week of ownership. Not because it looks cool, but to give me some anonymity as I drive. Don't get me wrong: I love meeting new people, but sometimes it gets to be too much.

This car stickers for $139,000 new, but I paid much less for mine with a mere 24,000 miles on it. Did I experience buyer's remorse? I did experience temporary remorse after I bought my Infiniti, but not after I bought this car. It's beautiful, it's fast, it's comfortable, it's timeless, it's relatively practical. With 100,000 miles on it and when it's 10 years old - it's still a Maserati! Just please, God, please, God - help me avoid door dings. :)

- Ron Cole



1 comment:

  1. Hi Ron, I literally just stumbled into your blog from your e-commerce site and read this review on your Maserati. No, I don't have one but now I want one and it's your fault :-) Enjoyed the post but most of all your artwork. I'm sure you hear that alot but it never gets old does it? Like you I grew up building alot of scale models of the many aircraft you depict from WWII, an influence from my father I suppose who was an aircraft mechanic aboard the USS Cleveland in the south Pacific. They flew SOC1 "Albatross" seaplanes. Very unusual launch and retrieve. But I digress. I must say your mixed media process has elevated artwork of this subject matter to a level beyond anything I've seen. Congratulations and looking forward to following you.
    Skol !
    Craig Lindberg