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Rejuvenated luxury coupé has impressed overseas. Now we drive it in the UK as it arrives on sale

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The new Maserati Granturismo has arrived in the UK in production form, albeit still in left-hand drive as we test it.

A lot of responsibility rests on the shoulders of this luxury sports coupé. While the Maserati Grecale, pitched at the heart of the luxury SUV sector, might be the company's biggest money-spinner, it's the Granturismo that carries the full weight of the company's history, because over 75 years and 12 generations (albeit bearing many different names) the luxurious coupé has been a near-permanent fixture in Maserati’s century-long life.

Like that other sporting icon, the Porsche 911, with which it directly competes, it has evolved greatly over the years but has aimed to retain its unique character – in this case, blending exotic looks and surprising usability with effortless performance and a dollop of driver delight.

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Perhaps no surprise, then, that the latest version was chosen as the basis for Maserati’s first steps into an electric future in the form of the 751bhp Maserati Granturismo Folgore, which we have so far driven in pre-production form, and rather liked. However, while this technological tour de force sets the tone for the years ahead, there’s still healthy demand for a petrol version of this Italian icon. That's also the first variant to arrive in showrooms and on customer driveways. There are two petrol variants, the Modena and the Trofeo, and both use versions of the 3.0-litre V6 'Nettuno' engine that you'll find in the fabulous MC20 supercar. The Modena has 483bhp, the Trofeo a beefier 542bhp.

The V6 petrol versions look very like their battery sibling, and all in turn draw heavily on the visual template set by the previous Maserati Granturismo (2007-2019). With more than 40,000 examples of that car finding homes over its lengthy 12-year life (small beer by rivals’ standards but big for this boutique brand), it makes sense that the design team decided not to mess with the formula. It’s not an eyes-out-on-stalks head-turner, but there’s an undeniable elegance to the neatly proportioned new coupé.

Under the skin, however, this is a totally bespoke and all-new offering, designed from the outset to house both high-voltage and high-octane propulsion. All versions feature a structure that’s about 65% aluminium, but the petrol models feature different sills that reinstate some of the stiffness lost to the EV, which uses its centrally mounted battery as a stressed chassis component.

From this architecture hangs double-wishbone suspension at the front, a five-link axle at the rear and height-adjustable air springs. Those prove a useful addition when it comes to calibrating a set-up that’s required to cope with a chunky 465kg spread in kerb weight between EV and petrol. (It’s a hefty 2260kg for the Folgore compared with 1795kg for the Trofeo.)

Under the long bonnet of our test car is that V6 from the Maserati MC20 supercar, complete with Formula 1-inspired combustion-chamber technology and fuel-saving cylinder deactivation. In addition to its 542bhp, in the Trofeo, it produces deep-chested 479lb ft of torque at a usefully low 3000rpm.

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This is linked to a ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox and a four-wheel drive system that can shuffle 100% of the available torque to the rear wheels, divide it equally between the axles or anything in between.

There’s a trick torque-vectoring limited-slip differential at the rear, while the front diff is mounted just ahead of the engine, helping to keep the V6 low and between the axles, thus aiding the centre of gravity, the polar moment of inertia and the weight distribution, which is a commendable 52:48, front to rear. (The Modena has a simpler, mechanical limited-slip differential.)

So the raw ingredients appear compelling, but what’s the Trofeo like to drive? 

The first certain thing is that the Nettuno lacks the aural authority of the old Granturismo’s operatic V8. There’s no lack of lag-free muscle and its outright urge is almost supercar-silly (Maserati claims 3.5sec for the 0-62mph sprint), but at low to medium revs, the directly injected engine has the sort of gruff but reasonably refined voice you would expect from a diesel V6, which is a little out of keeping with the car’s supposedly sophisticated shtick.

Engaging Sport or Corsa driving mode (gratifyingly easy, thanks to the handy steering-wheel-mounted rotary selector) sharpens responses and uncorks the exhaust system for some enhanced snap, crackle and pop, but there’s still none of the spine-tingling theatrics that made the atmo V8 such a sonic treat. It’s not a deal-breaker as such, but the lack of mechanical musicality seems particularly disappointing, given Maserati’s back catalogue.

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On the plus side, the gearbox slices quickly and cleanly through its ratios whether you’re leaving it to its own devices or taking manual control by pulling the slender alloy paddles behind the steering wheel. The brakes are strong and progressive too, once you’ve got past the slightly sharp initial response. And as you would expect from four-wheel drive, traction is limpet-like off the line.

It's harder to be certain about the ride and handling than it is the performance. The base drive mode is Comfort, which a spider graph on the touchscreen will tell you has the lowest suspension stiffness of all drive modes. Selecting GT stiffens that slightly. Sport suggests it offers a considerably firmer setting, with Corsa offering maximum stiffness.

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But that's not all, because another, separate damper-changing button gives multiple damper settings for each of the modes. We drove down the same stretch of lightly curved, poorly surfaced B-road in each of them, and came away not that much wiser about the changes each one gave. 

What we can say is that on firmer settings, things are tightened but not necessarily any less comfortable. And overall the Maserati has an easy-going character that means it’s likely to be less draining to drive quickly for long periods, which is what grand tourers are all about.

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It’s helped in this regard by good visibility, this breeding confidence in you by making the car easy to place on the road, which in turn creates a sense of compactness at odds with dimensions that record nearly five metres nose to tail and two metres across the hips.

Ultimately, it isn’t as invigorating as the Porsche 911 Turbo, but it feels lighter on its feet than the Bentley Continental GT.

When it comes to continent-crushing capability, it also makes a fair fist of leaving you relaxed and refreshed when you arrive at your long-haul destination. Noise levels are impressively low and there’s just enough luxurious waft to the ride on undulating but smoothly surfaced roads. 

High-grade materials are used throughout and the quality of the finish is pretty much on a par with its upper-crust rivals. Put proudly on the centre console is Maserati’s latest touchscreen infotainment system, which is visually slick but home to too many functions. We challenge you to turn on the headlights in a hurry.

The driving position is nicely low slung, while neat packaging also means it’s possible to fit four average-size adults, provided those in the rear are willing to compromise on visibility, while the 310-litre boot is long, if low.

The Trofeo rings the till at a hefty £166,830 in the UK, which is bang on the money for the Continental GT V8 and about £10,000 more than the 911 Turbo.

It can’t match the aristocratic image and five-star comfort of the former, nor the sharper edged dynamics and adrenaline-pumping pace of the latter, but it’s not hard to see the appeal of the Granturismo, which is a vastly more polished performer than its predecessor, even if its engine lacks the old stager’s charisma and siren call.

Crucially, it still packs enough magnetic Latin style, charm and personality to make it a tempting left-field choice in this rarefied corner of the market.

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Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes.