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GRAN STANDING (some text hidden)
BY ANDY ENRIGHT
Introductionword count: 134
With Maserati having moved to the mellower Quattroporte platform for its latest GT, the GranSport is as focused as the trident gets for the time being. Used examples offer a Ferrari sense of occasion for Porsche prices. Make sure the car in question has been meticulously maintained. As the last of the 3200/4200 line, the GranSport had a lot to live up to and on its day, it won't disappoint. Quite how frequently those days crop up will largely depend on how dutiful the previous owner has been but there also seems to be an element of 'luck of the draw', with some new GranSports performing acceptably in terms of reliability and others being nothing but an ongoing headache. Accept that you're not going to be getting German style build integrity and budget accordingly.
Modelsword count: 10
Models Covered: (2 dr coupe 2 dr Spyder 4.2 petrol)
Historyword count: 236
To understand the GranSport, you first need to trace its roots. These go back to 1998, a key date for Maserati. The 3200GT was launched, the first of the truly modern Maserati models, and it was an instant hit. This car was rapidly developed throughout its four year lifespan and it took many by surprise when Maserati, now operating under the auspices of the Prancing Horse of Ferrari, unveiled the 4.2-litre Coupe in 1998. Although it looked superficially similar, the 4200GT was a radically different car. For a start, the last link to the Biturbo era, the twin-turbo 270bhp 3.2-litre engine, had been given the heave-ho in favour of a big, normally aspirated 390bhp 4.2-litre V8 developed by Ferrari and which Maserati got first dibs on. The silhouette of the Coupe was similar but look a little closer and the changes were manifest. The LED boomerang style lights were replaced by more conventional units and the electronics were a whole lot more sophisticated. Spyder open-topped models and Cambiocorsa semi-automatic options were also offered. The marketers branded fixed and open-topped variants simply as the 'Maserati Coupe' and 'Maserati Spyder'. A limited edition Assetto Corsa model was well received and this philosophy formed the basis for the GranSport coupe, a final hurrah for this generation of Maserati, launched in late 2004. A Spyder drop top GranSport followed in summer 2006 but remains a rare sight on Britiish roads.
What You Getword count: 373
The GranSport philosophy is one of more power, less weight and an all round sharper driving experience. The unusual sill extensions worn by the GranSport aren't the most elegant pieces of body addenda I've ever seen but they help give the car a more planted, pugnacious look than the standard Coupe. A subtle boot spoiler, a jutting front bumper assembly, a mesh front grille and some very attractive trident-themed nineteen inch wheels help the GranSport justify its premium over the standard Coupe model but the changes don't stop with mere styling accessories. As a car that can be driven primarily on the road with the occasional track day thrown in, it makes a lot of sense. It certainly offers up a far greater sense of occasion than any equivalent Porsche and a cross continental blast to, say, Le Mans or Monaco would be far more enjoyable in the leather-lined sumptuousness of the Maserati than the rather functional German car. Suddenly the GranSport starts to add up. The re-sculpted front seats of the GranSport offer a good deal more support and elsewhere around the cabin are a number of other refinements. Some rather unusual interior finishes are offered. As well as the now rather cliched carbon fibre trim inserts, there's a material enigmatically dubbed 'High-Tech' that's quite unlike anything I've ever seen in a passenger vehicle. Its fire retardant properties may well generate a few electrical fire jokes kept in storage from the Biturbo days of the eighties, but it looks very hardwearing and offers a decent degree of grip. Maserati's chief designer is said to have discovered the fabric when attending an Italian fashion show. The Spyder's hood seems almost old school, being an electrically folding fabric item which takes quite some time (28 seconds) to raise and lower - not something you'd expect in a near £70,000 car - especially with Mercedes' SL still showing how the whole roof thing is done. Still, with the hood down, the Spyder looks a beauty and even with it up, the lines look agreeably smooth. Quite enough, in other words, to persuade potential buyers of convertible versions of the Aston Martin DB9, Porsche 911 and Jaguar XKR to schedule another test drive into their Blackberries.
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Category: Sporting Cars
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