With its heart-racing V8 action, the Maserati GranTurismo boasts polish and performance.

Among the exotic brands, Maserati has recently had an extraordinary sales leap. At one point, sales were up 300 percent from the previous year. A new, well-received less expensive model, the Ghibli four-door sedan, was the key to this jump.

But not to be forgotten are others in the Maserati lineup including the GranTurismo combo of models—a coupe and a convertible.

Between the two, the four-seat coupe— besides providing outstanding performance—is a little more practical. Styling with either version still screams Maserati with its traditional oval grill with the trident in the center. Beside the grill are interesting openings on the sides to accent the look. On the flanks, there are three small faux exhaust ports (yet another tradition) and some bulges over the wheel wells. But more importantly is the well-integrated and sloped roofline, going all the way back to the small rear spoiler on the trunk. All in all, an attractive vehicle from any approach.

Two versions of the coupe are available—the Sport and the MC. With the latter, styling nuances are enlisted to increase down force both in the front and the rear. Aesthetic additions include a front spoiler, side skirts and slotted front fenders. Th e rear bumper relocates the exhaust outlets and enhances the rear airflow.

Aerodynamics, while important, are no substitute for power. And this Maserati comes with plenty of that in the form of a 4.6-liter V8, producing 454 horsepower. Connected to the powerplant is a ZF six-speed automatic, which can change gears in 0.2 seconds. With this combination, the zero-to-60 time is 4.7 seconds with a top speed of 185 miles per hour. Stopping power is provided by Brembo brakes with large calipers behind the 20-inch wheels and tires. Handling is helped with a near-perfect weigh distribution with 49 percent up front and 51 percent in the rear.

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Inside, attractive and newly redesigned leather-lined, high-backed bucket seats greet the driver and the front passenger.

In an interesting twist, small metal grills are found at the top center portion of the seats. As is typical these days is a large video screen in the center of the dash with a much smaller one in the dash pod. Everything from navigation to Bluetooth can be seen or controlled in the center screen. In the dash pod screen you’ll find time display, temperature, gear selection and the like. An easy-to-use dual automatic climate is provided below the center screen. Various buttons can turn on or off the sport setting (i.e. for holding the gears longer for more performance), or a button for ice conditions or the parking warning system.

Access to the rear seating is enhanced by what Maserati calls the “Easy Entry System.” Simply stated, the front seats move forward or back electronically with a pull of a small handle on the side of the front seat back. A large armrest is found between the two seats along with chrome-enhanced cup holders. Rear headroom is good, but as with many coupes, the front occupants might have to move forward in their seats to accommodate long-legged backseat riders. A medium-sized and nicely lined trunk with additional floor storage will handle luggage or golf clubs.

Starting the big V-8 immediately sets the tone for any journey with a pronounced low rumble. For those who wish to control their destiny, the automatic can be shifted with either the gear lever moved to the left side or using the huge 6-inch shift paddles behind the steering wheel. Th e sleek leather front seats have side bolstering to hold you place.

The steering is precise with a direct feel without being too light. And, of course, the acceleration pushes you back into the seat. Ride and cornering are on the sports-car side of the equation, but without being unduly stiff and unyielding.

This GranTurismo maintains the Maserati styling tradition mixed with plenty of performance along with the practicality of four seats. Presumably with the GranTurismo, sales of the Maserati will continue to go onward and upward.

MASERATI GRANTURISMO SPORT

PERFORMANCE
0-60: 4.7 SECONDS, TOP SPEED: 185 MPH

POWERTRAIN
4.6 LITER V8 PRODUCING 454 HORSEPOWER. ZF SIX-SPEED AUTOMATIC

MODEL
FOUR-SEAT SPORTS COUPE

PRICE
$132,825

All photos courtesy of Maserati