2023 Maserati Gran Turismo First Drive Review: A Charming but Expensive Grand Tourer

The 749-hp electric Folgore variant might be what separates it from the pack, though.

  • 215
2023 Maserati Gran Turismo First Drive Review: A Charming but Expensive Grand Tourer © 2023 Maserati Gran Turismo First Drive Review: A Charming but Expensive Grand Tourer

“I will be objective, I will be objective,” I told myself as I arrived in Rome. As you can imagine with a name like mine, being sent to Rome for the first time in my life to test the new 2023 Maserati Gran Turismo was an incredibly exciting moment. However, I knew I couldn’t let my excitement and inherent love of Italian cars cloud my objectivity. I’ve never been blind to the failings of Italian brands, but the incredible food, wine, and charming accents admittedly weren’t helping. Still, I had to focus. I had a job to do.

For 2023, Maserati finally replaced the aging Gran Turismo with an entirely new model, one that looks … the same. It may not look it, but everything about the 2023 Gran Turismo is indeed new—the chassis, every body panel, the interior, every nut and every bolt, it’s all new. There’s even an electric model, which is a first for Maserati. However, Maserati didn’t want to deviate from its traditional Gran Turismo formula, so it looks and feels familiar by design.

Nico DeMattia

But how does a car so steeped in tradition work in this modern era of performance cars? In an automotive world dominated by electrification, technology, and autonomy, can something as old school as an Italian 2+2 GT car really work? 

2023 Maserati Gran Turismo Specs

    For the first time ever, the Gran Turismo is now offered with two different powertrains: a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 or a triple-motor electric powertrain. The latter powers the all-new Gran Turismo Folgore (“lightning” in Italian). For this first drive, I only got to drive the piston-powered car on the road whereas all of my time in the pre-production versions of the electric GT was on track for a handful of laps, so getting a true, apples-to-apples comparison between the two will have to wait until another day.

    However, according to Maserati, the goal wasn’t to make them feel much different. Maserati wanted both cars to feel like old-school GT cars, just with different powertrains.

    Nico DeMattia

    If you’re doing a double take at the new Gran Turismo, wondering whether you’re actually looking at the new model or the old one, that was intentional. When I told Maserati's head of design Klause Busse that the new car looked familiar, he told me that he takes that as a compliment. The outgoing Gran Turismo is still such a gorgeous design, and both Busse’s and Maserati’s goal wasn’t to disturb that too much. It’s very much an evolutionary design, rather than a revolutionary one, and Busse and his team nailed it.

    The new Gran Turismo is a subtly pretty car in the flesh. It’s simple, well-proportioned, and utterly Italian looking—everything a Maserati Gran Turismo is supposed to be. Interestingly, the Folgore looks no different from the Nettuno V6-powered car. Maserati intentionally ditched the traditional skateboard battery architecture for the Gran Turismo Folgore, instead packaging the batteries in a T-shaped pattern, in both the transmission tunnel and under the hood where the engine would normally go. In doing so, the Folgore sits every bit as low as the gas car and gives the driver the exact same seating position, two things that were important to Maserati. And it works because, without the “Folgore” badges, the electric car is indistinguishable from the gas one. 

    Nico DeMattia

    That goes for the inside, too. Both cars have mostly the same handsome, clean, luxurious cabin. I’m a big fan of the Gran Turismo’s new interior design, as it fits the sporty-but-sophisticated grand tourer vibe perfectly. The seating position is spot on—low, with great forward visibility. The seats themselves are also nice, with comfy cushions and thick side bolsters. I wish they were more adjustable, but they were well-suited for long-distance grand touring. In the Folgore, the seats are made from recycled materials, which is cool but also odd since the rest of the cabin is still leather-lined, so I’m not sure who the recycled seats are for. 

    Maserati isn’t exactly known for its in-cabin technology but its new touchscreen infotainment system is surprisingly good. It’s easy to reach while driving and its graphics are crisp and clear. Some of the screens are admittedly a bit confusing and having to press small digital icons to access submenus just to control the climate is frustrating. However, it did have some useful features, like the speed camera alert, which would let out a loud warning whenever a speed camera was nearby. It was jarring to hear, but it saved my skin a few times. 

    Living Up to the Name

    After about an hour or so driving the 542-horsepower Gran Turismo Trofeo on a mix of twisty rural roads and Italian autostrada, I can say with confidence that the Gran Turismo is exactly what it’s supposed to be—a fast, long-legged, comfortable GT car. 

    Nico DeMattia

    Its steering is nicely weighted and accurate, helped in no small part by the Nettuno engine sitting entirely behind the front axle. Though, it doesn’t feel overly hyperactive or twitchy, like a Ferrari’s steering, which is appropriate in a GT car. The Gran Turismo is certainly capable of slicing up some twisty roads, and it is fun to hustle, but it’s definitely more at home on long, high-speed sweepers. Its adaptive air suspension rounds out bumps beautifully and features an impressive compromise between firm sportiness and comfort. Even over some of Rome’s ancient lumpy roads, the Gran Turismo was planted, sorted, and supple. 

    As for its engine, the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 is a highlight. Like most car nerds, I bemoaned the loss of Ferrar, uh, Maserati’s brilliant 4.7-liter naturally aspirated V8 from the outgoing Gran Turismo. That old engine was a thing of joy, with a noise that was nothing short of symphonic. While the new Nettuno V6 isn’t nearly as joyous in terms of response and sound, it has a character all its own. It sounds more mechanical and technical than the old V8, with fun turbo whooshes and whistles. A lack of music is made up for by power. In this day and age, 542 hp seems weak, but I never once wanted for more throughout my time with it. The Gran Turismo Trofeo is plenty quick enough and its V6’s low-end punch makes it feel quicker than the spec sheet says. According to Maserati’s official figures, by the way, the Trofeo gets from zero to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds.

    Nico DeMattia

    Shifts are also predictably excellent, as they are from every ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic. However, in its sportier settings, upshifts will fire off with almost dual-clutch levels of urgency and the tiniest kick in the back of your seat. It might just be a torque-converter auto but the fun isn’t lost because of it. 

    One of the benefits of the Gran Turismo’s engine being almost entirely behind the front axle is that Maserati was able to fit an all-wheel drive system without raising the hood line. So you can have all of the safe, secure grip of all-wheel drive while still having excellent forward visibility. Though it never once felt like anything other than a rear-wheel-drive car. I wasn’t intent on pushing it too hard on Rome’s outer rural roads, as there were too many blind corners and terrifyingly bold Italian drivers, but I was able to get the Gran Turismo’s rear end to squirm on corner exit with surprising ease. 

    Nico DeMattia

    Lightning Laps

    The Maserati Gran Turismo Folgore uses three 300-kW electric motors—two at the rear axle, which drive the rear wheels through a single-speed transmission, and one at the front that drives both front wheels via direct drive. According to Maserati, the triple-motor setup is power-limited to 749 hp by its 800-volt architecture. Otherwise, Maserati claims its max power would otherwise be 1,183 hp. 

    Before getting precisely three laps around the iconic Vallelunga Circuit in the electric Gran Turismo Folgore, I spent a couple of laps as a passenger with a Ferrari GT3 driver at the helm. As a passenger, I saw what the Folgore was capable of: big, smokey drifts. The Folgore will happily live sideways if the driver so chooses as it’s every bit as playful as the gas-powered car, potentially even more so—the Folgore has perfect 50/50 weight distribution, while the nose-heavier ICE cars are slightly front-biased. 

    • Gran Turismo Folgore
    • Gran Turismo Folgore
    • Gran Turismo Folgore

    Maserati

    When it was my turn to drive, I was a bit apprehensive to push it hard, knowing I had 749 hp at my right foot’s disposal, most of which would be propelled through the rear. However, after some encouragement from my instructor, I switched from Sport to Corsa mode (which turns off traction control completely and uses active aero shutters to improve aerodynamics) and gave it my all. Shockingly, it never got out of sorts and was a better track car than I imagined. The Folgore is a heavy car, at just about 2.5 tons, but it never felt heavy on track. I guess 750 hp will do that. However, it also never felt like an EV. Its chassis balance, low center of gravity, and sunken driving position made it feel like a normal gas-powered Gran Turismo, which inspired a lot of confidence. In some EVs, you can feel like you’re sitting on top of the car, due to the slightly raised floor height from the skateboard battery pack underneath. Not so in the Folgore. It felt low and planted like a sports car should.

    Sadly, my time in the electric Gran Turismo was short. I still want more time in it, especially on the road. Maserati doesn’t have an EPA-rated range just yet but its WLTP-rated range is 280 miles. While that’s not great for what is supposed to be a long-distance GT car, its 270-kW charging speed can get it from 20 to 80% state-of-charge in 20 minutes, if you can find a DC fast charger capable of that. 

    Maserati Gran Turismo Features, Options, and Competition

    The Maserati Gran Turismo’s competition is tough. Living in its $205,000-to-start price range are cars like the Bentley Continental GT, Ferrari Roma, and Aston Martin DB11. All of these are just as fast if not faster, have large and potentially more charismatic engines, and equally pretty designs. The Bentley also has a far nicer interior. 

    Nico DeMattia

    However, the tables turn when you look at the Gran Turismo Folgore. There are plenty of fast EVs on the market but the Folgore is the only fully electric, two-door grand touring car. With the Folgore, Maserati has done something no one else really has—take the iconic two-door, four-seat GT car recipe and make it electric. It really is in a class of its own. 

    The Early Verdict 

    Even discounting the gorgeous scenery, driving through ancient towns, and the sensational food, it was easy to love the new Maserati Gran Turismo Trofeo. It’s such a compelling package for traveling long distances in speed, comfort, and style. However, it’s far from the only car that’s capable of doing that and, at its price point, it might not even be the best at it. The Trofeo certainly has its own flavor, though, with its gorgeous design, superb ride, and mechanical-sounding V6, and it’s a tasty one. In isolation. When comparing that flavor with similarly priced options, it’s hard to say how well it stacks up.

    The electric Folfore is a different beast, though, because its flavor is unique and I think that’s the key to the Gran Turismo’s success. It offers something that no one else does: all-electric grand touring. And, just from my limited experience, it could be what separates Maserati from the pack. 

    Nico DeMattia

    Got a tip? Email [email protected]

    Commnets 0
    Leave A Comment