Maserati GranTurismo Review 2023 | Top Gear
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Wednesday 29th March
Maserati reinvents itself for the electric age… with a car that looks suspiciously like it’s powered by petrol. Say ciao to the GranTurismo Folgore

Good stuff

Clever packaging, plentiful power, a step up in quality and execution, electric power suits a sporty grand tourer

Bad stuff

If you’re planning on using it like a grand tourer, you might want the petrol instead


What is it?

An all-new Maserati, in case you weren’t sure. And an electric one to boot, in case you weren’t sure about that either. Looks can be deceptive can’t they? It’s very definitely a grand tourer in the traditional mould though, and Maserati is the definitive grand touring marque: no other brand lends itself better to the idea of driving a long way fast, and looking cool while doing so.

And now it’s gone electric? Famously not good for going a long way at high speed… But who uses a grand tourer to do that any more? (If you do, don’t panic, Maserati is here to help. Keep reading). These cars are now everyday supercars: all the desirability and exclusivity, fewer of the mid-engined compromises in space and comfort.

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It's called the GranTurismo Folgore. When it arrives next year, finally replacing the last gen coupe that died three years ago, it’ll be the marque’s first-ever pure EV. Folgore – it roughly translates as lightning or thunderbolt – versions of the MC20 supercar and Grecale SUV will follow soon after. All Maseratis will have an electric version by 2025. By 2030 there will be no more petrols.

But will there be a petrol alternative now?

You’re a step ahead. Maserati’s future strategy forgoes hybrids for the bookends: as well as this tri-motor electric, the new GranTurismo will be offered with the MC20 supercar’s twin turbo V6 Nettuno motor (that will arrive first in fact, from next spring while Folgore models won’t land until summer). 483bhp in the entry level Modena version, 542bhp for the more aggressive Trofeo. Chicken feed. The electric one develops 750bhp.

You might have heard different, that it develops 1,200bhp. Well the motors can do it (each 33kg permanent magnet motor, one on the front axle, two at the rear, is rated at 400bhp) but the battery can’t. It can only send out enough electricity to deliver 750bhp. Think of it like an air restrictor on a petrol engine. But what that does mean is that all 750bhp can go to any of the motors. The rear pair for max acceleration, or divvied up for complex torque vectoring stuff through corners.

Sounds good. So why is the styling so safe?

Partly because petrol dictates the packaging and necessitates the long bonnet, but mostly because Maserati is rebuilding its brand and doesn’t want to alienate existing customers or try anything too radical. Besides, when was the last time you saw a car firm fit forward-looking tech under a backward looking body? It’s an unusual approach – you could almost see it as a restomod.

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We’re torn between thinking it's a lazy reinvention of the last car and a stroke of genius. At least Maserati hasn’t lost its touch. It’s a handsome machine, maybe a touch deep in the window compared to the body, but the huge aluminium clamshell bonnet – the biggest in the industry apparently – gives the front end real presence.

A quick word on history. This car matters more than any other to Maserati because grand tourers are the essence of the firm, its beating heart. It claims to have created them 75 years ago with the A6 1500 and the rakish, long bonnet coupe silhouette is one Maserati has successfully riffed on ever since – well, apart from a significant lull in the 80s and 90s when the company embraced boxiness and nearly collapsed. Several times. But things got back on track with the 3200GT in 1998, and the GT in 2007 reinforced Maserati’s status as perhaps the pre-eminent builder of Grand Tourers.

Where’s the battery?

Ah, you’ve realised there’s not enough room underneath the car. When we first saw the Folgore (pronounce it Fol-go-ray, by the way) we assumed they’d done away with the back seats. But no, they’re in there (and impressively spacious, which we’ll tell you more about in the Interior tab) and there’s a generous 270-litre boot, as well.

Instead, this all new, mostly aluminium platform sites the 92.5kWh battery in a similar position to the petrol powertrain. It sits in an inverted ‘T’ across the car in front of the driver, and then runs up the transmission tunnel.

Doesn’t that make it very nose heavy?

Well, Maserati claims a 50:50 weight distribution, and our bum telemetry tells us understeer isn’t an issue. It doesn’t have huge amounts of grip (click on the driving tab for why that is), but the balance between front and rear is deft. We were limited to track driving only in this late stage prototype, but the ride seems good – body control certainly is. There’s a hint of roll – it looks like quite a lot in the pictures, but it doesn’t feel that way because it’s well managed and controlled. In fact at most speeds the GranTurismo exhibits the same fluent, together, composed behaviour as the MC20 supercar.

Which is faster, petrol or electric?

Depends how you’re evaluating them. In a straight line electric eats petrol: the Folgore’s 2.7 seconds to 62mph plays 3.5 for the Trofeo. Maserati has geared the electric not to let up any time soon, either. It reaches 124mph in 8.8s and top speed is ‘over 199mph’.

Lap times, says Maserati, are much closer. We’ll hear more about that during 2023, and it’ll come down to the simple fact that the petrol is 450kg lighter than the 2,260kg Folgore.

What about range then?

Not going to be good if you’re doing 199mph. However, Maserati is claiming 280 miles WLTP from the battery’s usable 83kWh capacity, which equates to 3.4 miles per kilowatt-hour. You’ll only get that by going gently in ideal circumstances, but it’s a decent claim for a car of this weight, wearing 265 front and 295-width rear tyres and boasting a less-than-exceptional 0.26Cd drag factor.

No matter how much Maserati bangs on about 800v architecture and 350kW recharging meaning 10 minutes on charge can add 100 miles, we all know the reality of the charging infrastructure. You’ll enjoy the journey between stops though. OK, so you’re not going to be smashing out France on a one-stop strategy, but the Folgore is, as you’d hope, very quiet on the move. A ruffle from the wing mirrors is about it, no trace of creak or flex from the chassis, no noise or vibration from the suspension. It feels very together and easy to drive. A car you’d be happy driving a long way. Best of luck with that.

What's the verdict?

The GranTurismo feels, acts and drives expensively, and comes across as better engineered than any Maserati in living memory

Maserati reinvents itself for the electric age. With a car that looks suspiciously like it’s powered by petrol. Say ciao to the GranTurismo Folgore.

The GranTurismo Folgore could give potential rivals a proper headache. Currently, Porsche’s Taycan - and maybe Audi’s RS e-tron GT – are the only near-opponents this has, but in due course Bentley, Aston Martin and (we must assume) Ferrari will pile in. That’s the market area Maserati is pitching itself into now. This is a car that has real cachet, that feels, acts and drives expensively and comes across as more together, better engineered and developed than any Maserati in living memory. And the price will reflect that. Around £200,000 is our best guess for the Folgore, with petrols about £50k less.

Maserati feels like it’s got momentum and investment behind it. The MC20 was a good car to kick that off, but this is Maserati’s core product, the car that defines the brand. And it does that very well indeed. It’s got there ahead of rivals with a guilt-free, emissions-free sports car, which means it sets the tone and expectations for everyone else. It’s a powerful position to be in. They’re all playing catch up. And this is going to take some catching.

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