There is often a fine line between perception and reality, and for the carmaker that can blend a bit of both, buyers are often willing to hand over a hefty premium.Â That’s clearly a motivating factor behind the design of the new Maserati GranSport, the latest addition to the marque’s expanding line-up.
The Italian automaker starts out with its eponymous Coupe then makes a variety of exterior and interior changes and a few subtle tweaks under the hood. The result is a $98,172 sports car that’s likely to appeal to those who want what almost nobody else has, whatever the price tag. The question is whether the new car is more than just a high-priced poseur.
Those looking for a big bump in the numbers may be in for a disappointment and question whether all this is more image than anything else. The GranSport is rated at an even 400 horsepower, a modest ten more than the Coupe. Off the line, the GranSport takes 4.85 seconds to launch from 0-100 km/h (0-62.5 mph), a meager 0.05 seconds faster than its humble sibling. Top speed nudges up 2.5 mph, to 180 miles per hour.
On the street, there are some subtle differences that distinguish GranSport from Coupe. The basic two-door is itself nimble and confidence inspiring. Steering is crisp and handling precise. When we first drove the car, two years ago, we found the Cambicorsa to be the weak link, a bit erratic and often jarring.
The changes to the GranSport transmission seem to have overcome most of our concerns, at least when it comes to irregular shifts. With the accelerator wide open, shifts will snap your back as hard as a visit to the chiropractor, but during less aggressive maneuvers, the Cambiocorsa proved surprisingly smooth. As to handling, the GranSport seems just a bit better planted on the road than the Coupe, taking corners with surprising dexterity.
On the track, the GranSport does even bit better at differentiating itself. The car is more stable on the straights and hunkers down better in the corners. Cautiously comparing Maserati’s own numbers, we found their best driver regularly slicing two seconds off his lap times with the GranSport, the sort of advantage a racer would kill for.
There is, of course, the issue of exclusivity, something that plays heavily on the minds of most Maserati buyers in the first place. The GranSport is truly exclusive among the elite, the Italian automaker intending to produce just 1000 during a planned, two-year run. To completely personalize each car, Maserati will provide a variety of options, including a black mesh grille, different wheels, and yellow brake calipers.
The reality of the GranSport is that there are only the most subtle differences from the basic Maserati Coupe except when it comes to the price tag. But for those influenced by perceptions, there’s enough reason to spend the extra money to get a car that’s a true rarity.
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