Maserati GranCabrio Sport

They’re at it again, the weathermen, with their talk of autumnal winds, heavy rain, and artic blasts. The nights are drawing in, they’re getting colder too, and I’m pretty sure the duvet is finding it harder to relinquish its grip of me in the mornings. As a neighbour said to me the other day, as yet again the heavens opened, “It’s not exactly convertible weather any more is it?”

Oh, if only they knew. This weekend’s inclement weather has also coincided with my time with Maserati’s GranCabrio Sport, the 4.7 litre, 450bhp, sharper, harder hitting version of the Italian motor maker’s 4-seater drop-top grand-tourer.  Mother Nature may well have brought the rain but in certain parts of the Welsh Marches this Saturday and Sunday, but the engine-builders of Northern Italy supplied the thunder.

By pressing the GranCabrio’s Sport Button - it’s slightly smaller than a 5 pence piece and mounted just to the left to the leather rimmed multi-function steering wheel - you immediately open two butterfly valves in the exhaust system. Not only does that unleash the Sport’s final 10bhp it also allows the gases a quicker more, free flowing exit.  That little button that makes a hell of a difference; With the valves closed the Grancabrio Sport emits a  muted  all-Italian V8 grumble that any car fan could instantly fall for. With the valves open however, one of the most powerful road-going Maseratis you can buy produces the kind of noises that stir the soul.

It’s the sound of pure indulgence, a deep bass rumble that builds in to hard edged shriek as the revs and your velocity rise. It’s the kind of sound that has you deliberately driving round looking for tunnels and bridges, purely so as you can drive under or through them in order to hear its timbre echoing off their walls. You find yourself using the slender column mounted paddles to change down through the six-speed automatic gearbox not because you have to, but simply because you can. The software’s been set up to make the shifts quicker than in the standard Grancabrio and automatic blipping on downshifts means  you sound like pro as you approach your favourite corner. It pops, its bangs, it sounds like it’s gargling on the very essence of evil itself. It’s glorious.

There is more to the GranCabrio Sport than just the ability to show off though. True its looks aren’t exactly for shrinking violets – anything with Pininfarina styling, that rides on 20” wheels, has blacked out headlamp surrounds, more pronounced side skirts, and the ability to roll back it’s roof, albeit in a rather lethargic feeling 28 seconds, is sure to command attention - but should you want it to the GranCabrio Sport is more than capable of playing the long distance cruiser roll well. The suspension, on smoother surfaces at least, happily soaks up the bumps, and because the GranCabrio is… well, at nearly two tonnes and 5 metres long it’s neither light nor small now is it?  It seems to suit a more relaxed driving style and favour wide open roads. But it will seat four in comfort. How many other near drop- tops capable of 177mph and 0-62 in 5 seconds dead can you think of that will do that?

If we were to pick faults you could say the brakes need a firm push, the boot is hopelessly small – quite where you and your three passengers are meant to store just one overnight bag let alone four is mystery, and the interior’s multitude of buttons seem to have been distributed around the dashboard with a scatter gun.

To be brutally honest the GranCabrio Sport is madly impractical; it’s expensive, heavy, thirsty, arguably not quite as well constructed as its £103,910 demands it should be and probably not as good to drive as its looks suggest it could be. Ultimately it’s an exotic and flawed beauty, the kind of which you buy with your heart rather than your head. Strangely though, how you’ll forgive it nearly everything as soon as you turn its key.   As soon the driver who turned up turn up to collect it fired it up, I couldn’t think of hardly anything else that I’d rather spend a wet weekend with.

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Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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