2024 Maserati GranTurismo Trofeo Is Appropriately Dramatic
- After a four-year hiatus, Maserati is back to making what it has been historically known for—Grand Touring cars—and the results are promising.
- Powered by the MC20-derived Nettuno engine, Maserati’s newest GranTurismo Trofeo exhibits the loud-mouthed flair that an Italian performance car should, while showing signs of influence by its Stellantis-overhead.
- Priced at $205,000, Maserati’s flagship four-seat coupe isn’t exactly a bang for your buck, but it has more charisma than its peculiar set of competitors from Porsche, BMW, and Aston Martin.
Over the course of automotive history, the region of a car’s origins has traditionally brought nationalistic attributes along with it. German cars are known for their precision builds and complex mechanical components, Japanese cars for their legacy of quality and affordability, for example. Italian cars, however, are supposed to be passionate, flamboyant, and at times unreliable—at least that’s how decades of anecdotal ownership experience have shaped the stereotype.
So, as Maserati launches its first blank-slate GranTurismo model since 2008, it begs an existential question for the recently revived brand: Can the fiery spirit of a Maserati remain intact while also demonstrating Stellantis-bred cost-effective quality? Winding through the unmarked, narrow roads of Central Italy’s grassland in a Giallo Corse (yellow) Trofeo-trim GranTurismo, most signs pointed to yes, though a few doubts remained.
Starting at $205,000, the Trofeo model is Maserati’s highest-performance internal-combustion grand tourer, powered by an electronically de-tuned version of the 3.0-liter V6 Twin Turbo Nettuno engine. With 550 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque, the Trofeo strikes the middle ground in price and performance between the even further tempered (490-hp) GranTurismo Modena and the 750-hp battery electric GranTurismo Folgore. Notably, pricing for the Modena starts at $174,000, while Folgore pricing is claimed to start slightly above the Trofeo, though the company has yet to release official figures. All of these cars, battery electric or not, will come off the same production line, a line that can even be shifted to meet variable ICE or BEV demand, Maserati says.
Thankfully, one doubt was easily put to rest with a touch of the accelerator. This car is quick! Massively quick, even, and it pulls in a compelling, dramatic way with a softened wail and some seamlessly integrated turbocharged boost pressure from the Twin Turbo Nettuno engine. It’s a real immediate kick in the pants off the line, rapidly pushing you forward. With peak torque at 3000 rpm, the pull itself actually continues up until it peaks just before redline, which is just above 6500 rpm. Launch from a stop and it fires to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, though the Nettuno engine is just as willing and charismatic when you lug it to 75% of its 198 mph top speed in 7th gear.
Just as the digitally instrumented needle approaches the top of the engine’s revolution range, a snap of the oversized column-mounted paddles starts this rollercoaster ride of power all over again, replete with a transmission kick reminiscent of single-clutch transmissions. The difference between those drama-filled shift lags found on early 2000s Lamborghinis or even the SMG-equipped BMW E46 M3 and the new GranTurismo Trofeo is that here it’s an engineered feature of the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission, not a bug.
The four drive modes are very distinct in relation to the transmission, especially going from corsa or sport to GT or comfort, and Maserati’s engineers correctly decided that a sense of bravado was required in the performance-oriented settings. Yet, the shifts become invisible in comfort mode, just like they should be. Working the ZF8 transmission in manual mode or letting the computer row its own will never be as fast or precise as Porsche’s dual-clutch system, but at least it’s just as fun.
True to its passion-filled roots, the most human interactive part of driving—the steering system—is frankly wonderful. Given that it’s electric power steering, you don’t get road feel through the steering wheel, but it makes up for it by being immediate and direct. Paired with a quick steering ratio, a one- or two-finger grab is all that’s needed to aim the car turn after turn. Additionally, the artificial steering weight doesn’t suffer the over-boosted feeling plaguing many modern electric racks; rather, it matches the driving speed and situation without any perceivable adaption. Part of this feel, Maserati’s Head of Design Klaus Busse explained, also comes down to the three-spoke shape and relative thinness of the wheel, allowing for more delicate hand inputs to yield greater mechanical outputs.
To best enjoy the handling of the GranTurismo, however, I had to switch off the sport suspension. As oxymoronic as that may seem, sport mode combined with the bumpy surfaces of the village roads northwest of Rome wasn’t conducive for a true grand touring experience. In normal mode, the suspension glided over road imperfections but managed to absorb the forces of roll and yaw as we tipped it into a series of fast sweepers, all thanks to its adjustable air springs and electronically controlled dampers. Maserati itself admits that the GranTurismo is a touring car by all accounts, made for covering the distance in comfort and at speed, and a bit of extra give in the massive air springs isn’t going to really slow you down. We promise.
In fact, Maserati’s new suspension and drivetrain system were designed to make you a better backroad driver without any extra seat time. At least that’s how it feels behind the wheel, as Maserati’s proprietary Vehicle Domain Control Module (VDCM) takes action, blending a series of traction and stability control systems with the suspension and electric self-locking rear differential to essentially fix the imprecision with which human drivers operate. Additionally, because previous generations of the GranTurismo were historically rear-wheel drive, the model-wide shift to all-wheel drive necessitated some additional electronics to keep it light on its feet at 4000 pounds.
You don’t exactly feel the system working from behind the wheel, but its functions allow for acceleration-, cornering-, and braking-dependent power splits between the front and rear axle, with up to 100% of the power sent to rear wheels under hard acceleration. Compared to previous generations of the GranTurismo, the combination of AWD, a 52% front and 48% rear weight distribution, as well as the active VDCM co-driver make for an especially stable character that’s unlikely to penalize you for mistakes at corner entry and exit.
It’s a raucous car from the driver’s seat, but that spirit is tempered by its traditionalist exterior. It takes on a classic Maserati shape and style, though the designers would be quick to point out its ‘Cofango’ style, blended bonnet and fenders, as well as its all-new 65% aluminum chassis construction. And while it bears some slight resemblance to its predecessor, the design of the new generation was truly hinged in large part on modularity between the ICE and BEV versions.
“The batteries are occupying the same space as the combustion component, so we are using the engine and we are using the [transmission] tunnel to protect the batteries, and that allows us to keep this car incredibly low,” Maserati’s Head of Design Klaus Busse explains. “That’s why we have to talk so much about package actually…Our job as designers is to do a respectful job dressing the car, so it looks appropriately beautiful.”
Once you get inside the car, however, it’s clear that this vehicle is of modern times, for better and for worse. A typical suite of audio connectivity including Apple CarPlay paired with an easily usable, proprietary navigation system is ergonomically laid out on a 12.3-inch central display. It’s not too big or too small and is mounted a short reach from the steering wheel. However, the 8.8-inch comfort display touchscreen mounted directly below it is almost immediately confusing, with the climate controls mixed in with a series of drive controls, including traction control. Even worse, Maserati decided to use a horizontally mounted, piano-key material push button shifter, which felt cheap and required a firm push or two to engage. That said, the interior’s redeeming qualities include its aggressively bolstered but plush leather seats, spacious cabin and trunk, as well as its 12.2-inch digital instrument cluster, which was designed with enough attention to detail to remain unobstructed by steering wheel adjustment. Overall, its interior receives a passing grade, but its host of infotainment and the accompanying screens don’t feel like anything fresh.
Maserati mentioned the only two-door, four-seat segment competitor is BMW’s 8-series, particularly the M8 version. Priced at $136,095 and with 617 horsepower, on paper it doesn’t even look like a fair fight between the two, but it’s undeniable that the BMW lacks a degree of panache and flair that is oozing from the GranTurismo. If you were to truly compare the GranTurismo on performance, it seems like a more apt comparison would be with the BMW M4, while pitting it against vehicles of a similar price and luxury yields competition from the likes of Porsche’s Panamera or even Aston Martin’s Vantage.
Is it better than any of these cars? Is the Grand Touring class even relevant anymore? Ultimately, is it really worth $205,000?
If it were our money, the temptation of Nettuno-powered pulls on the daily would be strong. From a dynamic perspective, it’s more than a captivating exhaust note—it’s truly intoxicating, from the power to the electronic drivetrain adjustments, and even the biting Brembo brakes. You feel attractive driving around in it, getting thumbs up from Moto Guzzis and families in Ford Mondeos alike, thanks to its attractive design, but that special feeling doesn’t carry over to the interior, the place where you’ll spend your time. Despite this, and perhaps most important of all, Maserati’s GranTurismo Trofeo has undeniable character, a quality that can’t be measured but can and will easily sway already affluent buyers to pay just a little more for Italian character.
Share your thoughts on the tradition of Italian grand tourers in general—and of Alfa Romeo’s GranTurismo specifically—in the comments below.