Maserati GranCabrio - four proper seats, comfortable, inviting and all-enveloping. Never before had an open-top Maserati offered so much. Never before had a car with the Trident badge allowed an entire family or four friends to enjoy a journey in the open air. The Maserati GranCabrio's magical chemistry starts when you look at it: it is shockingly beautiful, with the soft top up or down. Indeed it features a sophisticated canvas top, for very precise reasons, which can be summed up in three words: «centre of gravity». Fabric, ultra-high tech fabric, weighs very little, infinitely less than metal and helps the car's road-holding: the overall system weight is just 65 kg. And then fabric is pliant, it complements the palette of the car's exterior colours six times over, the number of shades in which it is available, from a solid black to a high-tech titanium grey, to a warm chocolate colour.
Twenty eight seconds, that's the time it takes for the Maserati GranCabrio to go back to being a secure cocoon. A flying one too, thanks to a Cx of 0.35 with the roof up, which increases by a mere trifle, to 0.39, with the top down.
Design is at the service of comfort. The times when anyone travelling in the back of a sports car were resigned to suffering physical discomfort are well and truly over: rear passengers in the Maserati GranCabrio are not supporting actors, but co-stars of the journey. The legs, even for those who are more than six feet tall, are no longer crammed in, the spine is no longer forced into an unnatural erect position, but comfortably and physiologically supported on backrests designed so that sportiness does not need to compromise on comfort.
The Maserati GranCabrio's Design
Dynamism, sensuality and passion have always been the features that transform Pininfarina's creative genius into masterpieces to be admired on roads the world over. The latest work of art to leave the Maserati factory, the Maserati GranCabrio, has the design of a dream car, but it is a real masterpiece that's just asking to be driven by lovers of beautiful cars who want to travel cocooned in a refined and comfortable ambience.
The challenge for Pininfarina was an intriguing one: never before had a proper four-seater convertible, capable of accommodating four adults comfortably without stealing even the tiniest bit of the incomparable pleasure of travel, been produced by Maserati. Now that the craftsmen have completed their work, it all seems obvious: the Maserati GranCabrio could only ever have been like this. An expert eye, however, understands how much power lies behind the front, imposing and dynamic at the same time, the sinuous and feline flanks and a rear that speaks a high-tech language with a wide aerodynamic diffuser tested in a wind tunnel, crowned by large, twin oval-section chrome tailpipes.
A sculpture that speaks to connoisseurs the ancient language of the great Italian coachbuilders, a beautiful car to admire when it is open, but also when it is moving with its roof up, something that isn't always the case for cars of this type. The canvas soft top was chosen over a rigid folding roof as, with its complicated closing system, would have imposed on engineers and designers unacceptable constraints for anyone seeking beauty in its purest form. And so the "all-clear" was given to supremequality materials and state of the art engineering, to a structure with a backbone consisting of five steel and aluminium spokes and covered with a triple-layer canvas available in six colours, meeting every single customer's requirement. The whole system weighs only 65 kg but, at the same time, guarantees maximum aero-acoustic efficiency and allows the Maserati GranCabrio to be enjoyed in all seasons, thanks to the most stringent tests conducted at 30 degrees below zero and at 40 degrees in the shade.
When the soft top is up the drag coefficient is 0.35, while with the soft top down 0.39. Extraordinary figures, the mark of a perfect chemistry between aesthetics and functionality. Without forgetting another absolute imperative, the comfort of those travelling in this open-top granturismo. The optional wind stop was designed precisely to fulfil this purpose, to provide passengers with excellent protection, even at high speed. So, with the wind stop on, the volume of air from outside falls by 70%, whilst the air speed inside the cabin is down 50%.
The attention paid to comfort lies also in the details which might appear, on the surface, to be secondary, such as the device that, on command, starts the soft top opening cycle when the key is inserted in the door lock. This means that the car can be entered when the soft top is already down and the heat that has built up when parked in the sun has already disappeared. And should a storm threaten to break out during the trip, the Maserati GranCabrio's reaction time is only 28 seconds, the time needed to close its soft top.
The Maserati GranCabrio's Voice
The voice of the Maserati GranCabrio, the musical notes of its V8 are powerful but subdued when travelling at a modest pace, but they can reach the strength of a tenor's high tones when the driver demands the maximum. The secret of such flexibility lies with the pneumatic control valves that manage the exhaust: normally they remain closed, to ensure that the car travels within the bounds of discretion, but if the Sport mode is selected, they open above 3000 rpm and the sound becomes a powerful roar, especially with the roof down.
The eight-cylinder orchestra is a chorus that sings about the pleasure of driving, harmoniously conducted by the 6-speed automatic gearbox. This transmission is the result of a close working relationship between Maserati and ZF, which has successfully interpreted the exciting combination between the 323 kW (440 HP) of the V8 engine and the fluidity of the automatic gearbox. And if the driver wants to feel even more like an orchestra conductor, all he has to do is select the Manual mode, and modulate the sound of the engine to the rhythm of the manual shifts, better still when using the steering wheel paddles.
The Maserati GranCabrio demands to be heard, also through the voice of its hi-fi system, developed by Maserati and Bose. Keeping even the most demanding audiophiles satisfied was not an easy task: without the roof to act as a resonating chamber the layout of the speakers had to be completely redesigned. In the end 12 were fitted: one speaker in the middle of the dashboard, two tweeters and two woofers set into each door, one front bass box under the front passenger seat, two tweeters and two woofers on both rear panels and a rear-mounted bass box containing two woofers. It is the woofers, speakers which reproduce the lowest tones and give the right depth to an orchestral crescendo or the rhythmic base of a jazz trio, the keystones behind the perfection of the "GranCabrio concert hall". The rear bass box, for example, has an unusual shape, extending behind the backrest and under the rear armrest so that it can perform at its best.
To avoid endless manual adjustments which could turn into potentially dangerous driving distractions, the system automatically tweaks the volume and sound equalisation depending on whether the car is travelling with the soft top up or down: but the listener doesn't notice any difference and perceives the same audio quality in both configurations.
All this is completed by the AudioPilot® system which, through a small microphone mounted on the dashboard, monitors the noise level inside the cabin and adjusts the equalisation accordingly. This is useful particularly at high speeds, when aerodynamic swishes intensify and ensures sound quality that is always excellent.
All the driver has to do is to choose the most suitable music CD for the journey he's about to make and the Maserati GranCabrio can turn into the most dynamic of auditoriums.
The Maserati GranCabrio's Dynamics A must-have feature for a car that is as much fun to drive as the GranCabrio is a great sense of balance, achieved with a well thought out weight distribution. The latest Trident creation is unrivalled on this level as well: with the soft top up 49% of the weight is over the front axle and 51% over the rear, whilst the rates with the soft top down become 48 and 52% respectively.
In everyday driving these figures turn into reliable and predictable behaviour in all situations, breathtaking acceleration even on irregular surfaces and exceptional stability even in emergency manoeuvres. This has been achieved by positioning the engine mounted in unit with the automatic transmission, behind the front axle. Drive is transmitted to the wheels by a 2-piece shaft assisted by a limited-slip differential (the locking ratios are 25% in traction and 45% in release).
It has taken thousands of hours of calculations and as many hours again to develop the chassis on the prototypes. This effort was essential to achieve maximum structural rigidity even in the absence of a roof.
The Skyhook suspension system features continuously adjustable gas dampers which adapt to the ever changing road conditions. In practical terms, this means that every irregularity is "concealed" to the driver, who can then enjoy an incredibly smooth driving experience in true comfort.
But Maserati is also acutely aware that no two drivers are alike: this is why the Maserati GranCabrio's dynamic performance can be cut to size to match personal preference just as if it were an elegant tailor-made suit. By pressing the Sport button, in a split second, the car stiffens on the suspensions quickens the gearchange and its exhaust note becomes deeper and more aggressive. Then, just as suddenly, it can revert back to Normal mode at the touch of a button, offering those on board all the comforts of a top of the range granturismo.
Keeping a close eye on driving safety is the MSP (Maserati Stability Programme) system, which deploys an extensive range of sensors to detect any anomaly in the car's behaviour, the slightest deviation from ideal driving trajectory and, if it thinks it necessary, acts on the brakes and engine to stabilise the Maserati GranCabrio and put it back on the right track.
Another acronym, HBA, which stands for Hydraulic Brake Assist, marks a brand-new concept for Maserati. This application recognises when the driver is in a panic situation, analysing a set of parameters such as pressure on the brake servo, wheel speed and activation of the third rear stop light. Once the state of emergency has been declared, the HBA effectively replaces the driver and activates the full power of the brakes to reduce the stopping distance to a minimum. Because an intelligent car knows how to go fast, very fast, but also knows when to bring the speed down, within the driver's full control.
On board the Maserati GranCabrio
Sleek and sporty from the outside, comfortable and cosy from the inside. This formula was refined with the expertise of the designers who were put to the test with the Maserati GranCabrio concept. A concept which envisaged, first of all, two adults being able to use the rear seats even on long journeys, without suffering from cramps or fatigue.
On this car, even travelling in the back is a delight, thanks to an ergonomic seating position which is comfortable and not artificially upright.
The harmoniously shaped tunnel separating the rear seats features two cup holders and a receptacle. At the front all the benefits of the comfort package can be exploited. This feature allows the driver to memorise his ideal driving position and, in the cold weather, heat the seat to three different temperatures because hot and cold are also completely subjective concepts. The driving position is as sporty as it is comfortable, with upper body and legs properly supported when negotiating bends at high speeds. Bends are perfectly tackled by gripping the leather-trim three-spoke steering wheel with an ideal diameter of 37.5 cm.