Maserati Granturismo V8 MC Nerissimo Edition 2dr MC Shift
Let’s start with the all-electric Folgore. It’s smooth, easy and forgiving. The first two we’re used to with electric cars, the third not so much. Hard suspension to support the weight can make them feel remote and snatchy when driven hard, leaving them relying on their electric safety nets.
The Folgore is different. It’s not afraid of a bit of body roll, so the suspension moves and breathes and feels natural. It’s not as intoxicating and involving to drive as the lighter, noisier petrol, but it does more to engage you than the vast majority of electric cars. It’s not quite as tight and together in the steering and chassis as the Taycan, but it’s every bit as engaging.
There are four, from Max Range to Corsa. You know which end is which. The former limits you to 81mph and switches off the air con, the latter only makes sense beyond 81mph and switches off the traction control.
The Folgore starts in GT (there’s a dial on the steering wheel to select mode, a button in its centre to alter damper stiffness), which limits you to 80 per cent power and is ideal for most driving. Soft, competent and slick for all your wafting about needs. It’s already oodles fast enough.
Sport gives you all the power and manages traction at the limit, so you aren’t too aware of power being shuffled around. Acceleration now is of the fairground variety: slightly beyond your expectations and comfort.
Corsa mode releases the shackles on the powertrain. Oof. Lift off as you turn in and the rear will come around, get back on the power and it squirms and moves around. Lots of electrons urgently trying to find a way out.
A switchable Drift function sends even more torque rearwards and makes the back wheels behave like castors. Now you and the torque vectoring are second guessing each other. You back off, it sends power forwards to straighten things up, but you expected this, so you straightened the steering to prolong the slide. End result: you’re busy with the wheel and pedals, it’s a bit of a juggle, but you’re having a great time. Hardly a core function for a grand tourer anyway.
Yeah, because they’re the limiting factor. The Goodyear Eagles on our Folgore test car are the everyday rubber, low noise, low rolling resistance. Also low grip. They help deliver the 280-mile range. Maserati is also likely to offer grippier tyres for those that want them.
It’s very hard to spot the join between regeneration and caliper braking which, after safe stopping power, is by far and away the most important thing. Again the tyres are the limiting factor for slowing power. The paddles on the wheel vary the regen across four levels – at max it can slow the car at 0.65g, recovering 400kW into the battery. Like the rest of the car, the brakes (no carbon ceramics here) inspire confidence and familiarity.
Now noise. Well, the old GranTurismo was one of the all-time greats, delivering a strident rasp from its V8. Instead, the Folgore gets artificial noise through the speakers. Unlike Porsche’s futuristic soundtrack, Maserati has gone for a deeper, more rumbling and reassuring noise that’s part internal combustion, part church organ. At a cruise it's refined. A ruffle from the wing mirrors is about it, no trace of creak or flex from the chassis, little racket from the suspension.
Well, it’s louder than the EV, that’s for sure, but the little V6 is nowhere near as sonorous as the old 4.7-litre naturally aspirated V8. At low revs and in the more restrained Comfort and GT modes, the Nettuno is a little gruff and guttural sounding. At low revs it sometimes clears its throat and stutters for an instant.
Fear not. That’s pretty much where our worries about the combustion-engined GranTurismo end. We’re yet to drive the Modena, but it’s worth pointing out here that the Trofeo feels properly fast.
Of course, anything with 542bhp should be rather sprightly, but select Sport or Corsa mode, get the revs high and spool the turbos up and this thing will absolutely fire you down the road. It's one of those cars where you're usually going faster than you think. Is that a good thing in these speed-limited days? At least there's none of that childish exhaust popping, even in sport mode, to draw attention to you.
It's also respectably economical for the kind of car, doing maybe 23mpg on a trip and mid-teens when you're enjoying a good road.
The ZF auto gearbox provides rapid, no-fuss changes, while the four-wheel drive ensures mega grip and traction coming out of bends. The Trofeo has an electronically controlled rear differential speedy torque vectoring, and it has a controlled variable centre diff too.
Like the Folgore, the Trofeo doesn’t shy away from body roll. Air suspension is standard so the car can carry the extra weight of people and luggage without getting upset.
It’s still able to soak up most bumps on potted roads. The firmer damping mode is a bit nuggety for many British B-roads, but the softer programme betrays the mass with a little float. We found ourself switching between, but as the button is on the steering wheel it's easy to find without looking down.
Special mention to the steering. It's not too quick, and it's very progressive, so you can place this big car very accurately through a bend. Bumps and ridges don't knock it off course either.
There is perhaps one more thing we’d nitpick at though – the brakes are steel Brembo units and could provide slightly more feel.
It obliges. The assisted cruise control is pretty smooth-acting, and the instrument screen shows a diagram of what it thinks is around you, distinguishing motorbikes, cars, vans and trucks. That inspires confidence.
It also has surround cameras to help you squeeze its bulk through city restrictors and parking spaces.
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