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Maserati GranCabrio S
7/10

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Road Test

Maserati GranTurismo GranCabrio S driven

Driven September 2011

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It's called the GranCabrio Sport. Which sums it up neatly. A convertible version of the Maserati GranTurismo - the GranCabrio - with added Sport. But not that much added vitality: power is up just 10bhp to 450, torque from 361lb ft to 376lb ft, top speed a single mile-per-hour to 177mph and 0-62mph down 0.1 of a second to 5.2. Which isn't enough to feel in a 1,980kg car, unless you have digital read-outs in place of buttocks.

What you're more likely to feel is the new MC Sport Shift Auto gearbox with its new, longer Trofeo-esque paddles mounted to the steering column. Tweaked to make better use of the rev-range of the 4.7-litre V8 - it revs 500rpm higher than the standard GranCabrio - the revised 'box is 50 per cent faster to swap gears in Sport mode and holds gears in manual even when it reaches the rev-limiter. Which is nice, because it allows you to play tunes with the engine note, just slightly more extraordinary than the standard GranCabrio, thanks to a more vocal exhaust - the sexy one featuring black oval tips.

There are a few styling tweak-ettes too - not much, you understand - just enough to gain the upper hand in the GranCabrio debate. So you get little aero-dividing winglets on the edges of the front bumper, some bespoke side-skirting, black-backed headlights and a black grille. It remains a properly pretty car, even with the roof up. A canvas roof that can be stowed or retracted up to 20mph, although you'd best have some space, because it takes a glacial 28secs.

Is it better than a standard GranCabrio? Yes. A bit. The gearbox is still a torque-converted automatic, so is able to diffidently wander around being all plush and comforting, and the suspension is firm but not back-breaking. It's a fabulous posing car. Go faster, and the cracks start to appear: it feels massively heavy, and in its pursuit of relaxed sportiness Maserati has inexplicably given the brake pedal a weird couple of inches of squishy nothing at the top of its travel, which is intensely annoying in the Sport version. When you finally get through the initial wool, the brakes are effective and progressive, but it still makes the GranCabrio Sport a little too fond of the odd lurch into a corner, unhelpfully shoved along by the car's general lard.

So the ‘Sport' part is a bit of a misnomer, and if you want a proper driving tool, you'd be better off with an Audi R8 cab. But the GranCabrio Sport only costs around £4,300-ish more than the standard car, and the exhaust and gearbox tweaks are probably worth that alone. So TG recommends the Maserati GranCabrio Sport as a pretty, rapid, awesomely noisy convertible. Just don't expect it to rewrite the rules of physics.

Tom Ford

We like: Noise, looks, poseability
We don't like: It's a very heavy car
The verdict: Tweaks make the GranCabrio slightly better, for relatively little cash
Performance: 0-62mph in 5.2secs, max 177mph, 19.4mpg
Tech: 4691cc, V8, RWD, 450bhp, 376lb ft, 1980kg, 337g/km CO2
Tick this on the options list: Bose Premium Audio, £tbc
And avoid this: Damiani diamond keyring, €10,500

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