2017 Maserati GT review, test drive
8th Aug 2017 11:19 am
The Maserati GT gets a makeover and we take it out for a spin to see if it’s enough to keep it in the race.
What is it?
The GT is Maserati's halo car, but with newer products like the Quattroporte, the Ghibli and, more recently, the Levante taking centre stage, this 10-year-old, two-door, four-seater has been left behind in the shadows. Initially, the GT was to be discontinued to make way for the new Alfieri Concept, but a rethink in Maserati's boardroom meant the Alfieri was delayed and the GT got a quick makeover to soldier on for a little longer. However, the real question is, is that enough?
What’s it like on the outside?
Set against a backdrop of Italian vineyards were the Maserati A6 1500 and the 3500 GT, and the long bonnets of these classic beauties, with the windscreen in the middle of the wheelbase, are beautiful reminders of what inspired the current GT.
The new GT gets just a few changes from the earlier car’s Pininfarina lines. The nose gets a redesign and a larger hexagonal grille with chrome inserts that accentuate the shark nose-look inspired by the Alfieri concept. The redesign is not just in form but in function too, resulting in better aerodynamics. The concave vertical grille bars resemble those on the Levante and the lateral air ducts are angled inwards. Below the grille is a redesigned central splitter which gets different designs to help distinguish between the two versions of the GT – MC and Sport. The Stradale version has been dropped from the current line-up.
The headlights, though similar on the outside, get LED daytime running lamps, a grooved housing in the xenon headlamp area and the 'Maserati' inscription. Moving to the sides, the tweaks include revised side skirts, 20-inch Trofeo Silver wheels that are 10 percent stronger and lighter, and vertical air vents in addition to the characteristic three horizontal vents in the front fenders. Both versions get a larger rear lip spoiler and redesigned diffusers. Also, while the Sport gets oval tailpipes at the edge of the bumper, the MC comes with round pipes at the centre.
On the whole, the design may be a decade old, but it has stood the test of time and looks drop-dead gorgeous even today.
What's it like on the inside?
The GT is a four-seater, and as far as coupés go, it offers decent space at the rear for my 5ft 4in frame. However, with a tall driver in front, I get limited room to move my legs. The changes to the interior start with a little more sculpting to the passenger side of the dash, accentuated by rich-looking double stitching that runs through all the leather in the car. At the centre of the dash is an 8.4-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. It also doubles as a display for the new reverse cam. A new double-dial clock sits in the centre of the dash. The lower half has the double-rotary dial from the Levante and this means fewer buttons. The interiors of the GT always had a premium feel to it and that continues on the new car as well.
What's it like to drive?
The GT is now powered only by the 4.7-litre engine which is a carryover from the earlier car, the 4.2-litre engine has been dropped.
I understand why Maserati chose to stick to the naturally aspirated V8 in a world of turbocharged engines when I fire up the car and it roars to life.
Driving down the narrow Italian roads that lead to the highway, I watch the edges of the car and it does feel big. But as soon as I get a little room, I press down on the pedal and the shove back into my seat brings up a big smile on my face. The engine is responsive, gentle dabs on the throttle draw big responses and, driven in normal mode, the V8 burbles away in a refined manner offering enough thrill. In Sport mode, however, the real fun begins when you press down and are immediately greeted by a deep, throaty roar as you fly up the revs, and it crackles and spits as you shift down to dive into a corner. The steering that feels heavy at lower speeds actually lightens up a little too much as you pick up the pace, but it still offers a whole lot of feedback.
Maserati closed off a small section of road to give us the complete experience and an instructor jumped in to ensure I did it right. With the license to go flat out, I set off and am instantly surprised by the levels of grip from the car.
“It’s a fast corner," he says, "it won't tighten; keep pushing.” And so, I press harder on the throttle expecting some drama, but the GT goes around in a sure-footed manner tending to understeer a bit.
The MC version comes with fixed rate dampers that make the car feel a little stiff-kneed over sharper intrusions, but the Sport version gets the Skyhook variable dampers that make the ride a lot more pliant.
Carving those corners and shifting gears ever so often, I get a good taste of the MC’s six-speed auto shift that downshifts quicker than I can think. The shift time is 100 milliseconds, the instructor informs me. And while the gearbox is quite the animal when you use the paddles in Sport mode, in Normal mode, the six-speed ZF gearbox is a little slow to react and is not one of the best ones around.
Now if we talk strict 0-100kph times, at 4.7sec, the GT is no punter, but the behind-the-wheel experience is not just about flat-out acceleration, the punchy engine, the aural delight from the pipes and the way it capably handles a winding section of road all come together to provide enough thrill factor to want to do it again and again. It's no sportscar, but it was never meant to be. Being a GT, it's meant to bring you performance and luxury in one package, the practicality of four seats and a spirited driving experience.
Should I buy one?
Should you even consider the GT, especially when there are newer offerings? That may be a fair question to ask before you buy a car, but perhaps not of the Maserati GT. Sometimes it isn’t about facts and figures, but about how a car stirs your soul. And the GT excels with its Pininfarina design and Ferrari engine whose soundtrack alone will compel you to buy one. With an expected price tag of Rs 1.8-2 crore (ex-showroom), there are others that would make more sense but few that would draw you in as much emotionally.