LOS ANGELES—Bench racing is a huge component of being a car enthusiast, for better or worse. Yes, it’s usually fun to rattle off a bunch of statistics to “prove” one car is better than another, but it disregards one hugely important reality: Numbers often don’t tell the whole story of what it’s like to drive and experience any given sports car. Sometimes the specs line up with the best car in a given segment, but in other cases a car with less power can deliver that special something that can stir an enthusiast’s heart. The stunning 2019 Maserati GranTurismo Sport Convertible we tested recently is a perfect example.
The 2019 Maserati GranTurismo Sport Convertible is neither the fastest nor the newest model in its segment, but it features a Ferrari-derived engine and a set of exhaust pipes that could wake the heavens. We spent a week behind the wheel of this Magma Red example before Maserati trades up for a new flagship model, the MC20 which made its debut earlier this year.
2019 Maserati GranTurismo Sport Convertible Test: Grand Touring Staycation
Given 2020’s limited options for grand-touring destinations, my fiancé and I decided to test the 2019 Maserati GranTurismo Sport Convertible on a road trip that both started and finished at home. We set off, top down, up the California coast in the Maserati GranTurismo Convertible, sport-exhaust enabled. Our plan was to drive up to Ojai, across the mountains and through the high desert, and then return to Los Angeles on the freeway in time to pick up dinner on the way home.
That morning, I fired up the 4.7-liter V-8 engine in my underground parking garage, and promptly worried that the sound of the cold start would disturb the neighbors above. Though the volume settles down after the engine warms up, there’s no getting around the initial roar, not that I minded in the slightest. After picking up the GranTurismo Sport Convertible from our office, I cackled the first time I laid into the throttle; so few cars on the market today are naturally aspirated, and among those, almost none of them sound this good.
As such, during my test drives I almost always activated the GranTurismo Convertible’s sport exhaust so I could hear the engine’s trumpeting song. We navigated some moderate weekend traffic out of L.A. and in the seaside town of Ventura, but the standard adaptive suspension is compliant enough to be reasonably comfortable over the creases of California’s freeways. The saddle leather seats were plenty comfortable, too, and when we finally escaped from the beach traffic and started heading east toward Ojai, I started to put the GranTurismo through its paces.
2019 Maserati GranTurismo Sport Convertible Test: The Hardware
The Maserati’s speed-sensitive hydraulic steering feel is just incredible. Similarly, brake and throttle feel are super precise. The pedals are made from gorgeous bare metal and they offer resistance that makes it easy to have proper input modulation. I soon switched the six-speed transmission to manual-shift mode and used the giant, steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles to keep the engine singing in its sweet spot. Popping between second and third gear, there always seemed to be torque on tap to rocket out of a corner.
Indeed, the V-8 engine’s 454 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque seemed to be the perfect amount of go for me to have fun in the canyons without being daunting or excessive. Revving out all the way to 7,600 to access peak power never felt inappropriate, and as the exhaust note bounced off of the canyon walls, my fiancé and I had smiles frozen on our faces. It felt like being in a Maserati ad: No one around, perfect roads, just us and a gorgeous Magma Red convertible with miles and miles of twisting pavement ahead. Even though we’d be heading back home at the end of the day, it was the perfect respite from the tedium of working from home.
2019 Maserati GranTurismo Sport Convertible Test: A Genuine Experience
Despite having hours of canyon driving at my disposal while testing the 2019 Maserati GranTurismo Sport Convertible, the Brembo brakes never gave up their feel or stopping power, giving me the peace of mind to simply enjoy navigating the diverse types of corners and incline changes while the exhaust did its thing. Riding on sticky summer tires, grip was never an issue, either. For a rather large sports car, the GranTurismo gobbled up corners and was easy to read as we traversed the snaky bits of Route 33. Even after leaving the Sport drive-setting enabled for most of the trip, we discovered the exhaust note is far from obnoxious, even as a passenger.
Really, though, the noise is one of this car’s main points, and I spent every possible moment with the roof down so I could enjoy it all the more. Additionally, the car looks much better with the top retracted. We managed to drive for a sonorous three-plus hours before the sun in California’s Central Valley became so unbearable that we had to pull over, raise the roof, and crank the air conditioning.
2019 Maserati GranTurismo Sport Convertible Test: Options and Trim
While the interior today looks very dated compared to other cars in the 2+2 convertible segment, the leathers are thick in the fashion of European classic cars. There are some unbecoming plastic surfaces and switchgear that sports rubberized-plastic coating that holds the cabin back from being as comparably luxurious with modern competitors. As mentioned, however, the pedals and shift paddles are some of the nicest in the business, so it’s sort of a wash of the best and worst.
The Maserati GranTurismo platform’s age and the car’s eye-watering price are two of the biggest factors that caused friends and followers online to try to yuck on my yum as I posted on social media about how much I was enjoying the car. These are fair criticisms, but they don’t change how much fun I had behind the wheel, rolling into the throttle as the exhaust note climbed in pitch and fervor.
Our 2019 Maserati GranTurismo Sport Convertible test car stickered at $166,930, well into the world of some of the best-driving mega-performance cars on the market. Optional extras included the “Rosso Magma” paint ($10,500), black brake calipers ($750), 20-inch MC-sec alloy wheels ($2,000), colored seat backrests ($900), and drilled seats ($850). Otherwise, and unlike Ferrari, it featured Apple CarPlay as a standard feature, motorized seats, and an honest-to-goodness key for the ignition.
Look, there’s no getting around the steep starting price. At a base cost of $150,380, you can’t help but to raise an eyebrow, especially when we’ve recently reviewed a car like the Jaguar F-Type R that makes considerably more power, still looks and sounds fantastic, and starts much closer to the $100,000 mark. Given what we know about the Maserati MC20, however, it seems as though Maserati will now offer a flagship product that is an even match to competitors like the twin-turbo Ferrari F8 Tributo and the V-10 powered Lamborghini Huracán Evo.
Regardless: Outside of the bench-racing world (often occupied by a lot of people who have never actually driven any of the cars in question) and cross shopping dollar-to-dollar against newer offerings, those with the money and the necessary sense of nostalgia will find immense satisfaction in the 2019 Maserati GranTurismo Sport Convertible. It’s an incomparable sensory experience wrapped in bodywork with timeless styling by Pininfarina, and we might very well never see a naturally aspirated V-8 Maserati convertible again. But hey, at least there’s the Lexus LC500 Convertible to keep the spirit of fresh air performance alive a little longer. But that’s a whole other argument waiting to happen.
2019 Maserati GranTurismo Sport Convertible Highlights
- Ferrari-derived V-8 is smooth and sounds amazing
- Open top lets in the sound of the incredible sport exhaust
- Timeless styling
- Great shift paddles
|2019 Maserati GranTurismo Sport Convertible Specifications|
|PRICE||$150,380/$166,930 (base/as tested)|
|ENGINE||4.7L DOHC 32-valve V-8/454 hp @ 7,600 rpm, 384 lb-ft @ 4,750 rpm|
|LAYOUT||2-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, RWD convertible|
|EPA MILEAGE||13/20 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||194.2 x 75.4 x 53.0 in|
|0-60 MPH||4.8 sec|
|TOP SPEED||186 mph|
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