Black beauty can even sway greens

INITIAL reservations were about the hefty fuel consumption. Then the staunch environmentalist raised issues with contributions to rising sea levels via the CO2 pumping out of the rear pipes.

But the allure of the Maserati GranTurismo S soon had its way with Dr Quinn Greenie Woman.

She conceded to its intoxication and had a solution – you could offset each drive by planting a tree. Let's face it, if you can afford the $300K-plus price-tag, you can afford a sapling with each turn of the key.

This is the ultimate sports machine in the Maserati family Down Under.

There is a baby brother, powered by a smaller 4.2-litre V8, but this is the granddaddy with a more potent Ferrari-built 4.7-litre bent eight under the skin.

And it will have you screaming “who's your daddy?” from the first drive.

The GranTurismo S is distinguished by the new side skirts, rear spoiler integrated in the boot, the specially designed seven-spoke 20-inch rims and opaque black grille.

This adds a gutsier appearance to an already drop-dead gorgeous exterior. It's a look which isn't deceiving.

Comfort

Seeking all out performance and style? Buy a Ferrari. If you want soul and a cruiser with ample firepower under the bonnet, buy a Maserati.

The GranTurismo has four leather and suede clad seats, and the back pairing are not there just for show.

Electric front seat and steering wheel adjustment make travel a pleasure. Things are equally good in the back, although the raked roofline makes things tight for those over 180cm.

Still, the back pews have access to their own air-conditioning vents and two cup-holders, as well as a leather armrest which folds down.

When you arrive in the cockpit things take some analysis. There is an array of buttons and two large paddle shifters for when you want to take control manually.

Once you have your bearings it's all simple stuff, just with a few additional options for greater driver control.

An added bonus is the level of opulence expected in a car in this price range – perfectly finished and an experience in itself.

On the road

Seamlessly combine an orchestral masterpiece with the greatest rock music ever produced – that's the tune emanating from the GranTurismo's twin pipes.

Turn the key and it's a dose of Viagra with extra intravenous hits at the whim of your right foot.

This thing will storm from standstill to 100kmh in just under five seconds.

A magic button on the dash plays a pivotal role in reaching that milestone. Engage “sport” and you can hear the exhaust tone deepen.

Two pneumatic valves open and the flow of exhaust gases is channelled down a route that leads directly to the outside.

It also firms the suspension set-up for additional excitement and begs for some bends. Firm is probably understating things, as you will feel every major rut and undulation.

But it's never a disappointment. Feeling the odd bump is a small price to pay for enjoying the Maserati's delights.

The engine and gearbox are arranged in the transaxle layout. The front-mounted engine, and the gearbox, located to the rear, are rigidly connected by a tubular element containing the driveshaft. This gives excellent weight distribution, 47% over the front axle and 53% over the rear.

Unleashing the power brings a smile to your face on every occasion.

You can choose between two primary operating modes, manual and automatic.

There is no main shifter, just two buttons on the centre console – reverse and first.

From there you select the driving style, depending on how sporting and adventurous you feel. The selection list includes manual normal, manual sport, manual sport in MC-Shift (for super fast changes at speed), auto normal, auto sport and ice.

The shifts can feel jerky initially; it just takes some time to get used to the driving style required – blipping the throttle can become addictive.

Although it's not all a blur. The GranTurismo can be driven sedately and quietly…but where's the fun in that?

It has amazing handling for a car weighing nearly two tonne and the power at your disposal is astonishing.

What do you get?

Given its exclusivity, you'd be right to expect some quality inclusions. And Maserati delivers with sporting flair in the GranTurismo S.

Then there's your usual luxury trinkets, like dual zone air-con, cruise, auto lights and wipers, sat-nav, along with all the latest in safety features such as stability control and a swag of airbags.

Other options

There is some exclusive company, including the Aston Martin Rapide $366,280, Jaguar XK-R Coupe $240,100, Mercedes CL $330,500, Bentley Continental GT Coupe $384,402 and Porsche Panamera Turbo 4-door Coupe ($364,900).

Practicality

Four seats and a boot, what more do you need? Yes, it's expensive. Worth the same as a house in some parts, but at least you can share your investment with three mates who have luggage (small bags preferred).

Plus it has child seat anchorage points, although it is difficult getting the chairs to fit into the deep sports seats.

Running costs

Like the retail price, you'll also need deep pockets at the petrol pump. On long highway runs it will match the best of the V8s, yet around town and with hefty use of the accelerator you can just about see the needle head south.

Insurance and replacement tyres would also require some investment.

Funky factor

This is like pornography on wheels. Heads turn when you are in anyone's vicinity. If they don't fall in love with the sleek lines, then it's the tune pumping from the dual tailpipes.

Designed by Pininfarina, the GranTurismo S is them at their finest.

The low-down

Cars don't come much cooler. All elite brands have their own appeal, and the Maserati stable is one of intoxicating passion.

This variation provides athleticism and four cocooning seats which can cater for adults.

It's a wonderful sound emanating from the hulking V8 and rarely does it disappoint when you flex its muscle.

Yes, it leaves a carbon tyreprint, but it's a wonderfully beautiful legacy.

VITAL STATISTICS

Model: Maserati GranTurismo S MC Supershift.

Details: Two-door rear-wheel drive luxury sports coupe.

Engine: 4.7-litre V8 generating maximum power of 323kW @ 7000rpm and peak torque of 490Nm @ 4650rpm.

Transmission: Electro-actuated six-speed with fast MC-Shift and steering wheel mounted paddles.

Consumption: 16.6 litres/100km.

Performance: 0-100kmh in 4.9 seconds; top speed 295kmh.

CO2: 387g/km.

Bottom line: $328,500.



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