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Test Drive: Maserati 2018 GranCabrio Sport

Top-down driving in northern Italy in a car as beautiful as the scenery.


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I’m driving the new 2018 Maserati GranCabrio Sport along the shoreline of Lake Iseo through the small town of Sarnico, about 43 miles northeast of Milan, Italy. It’s a beautiful day and I have the top down. The scenery is gorgeous but the locals perhaps are a little jaded because what is catching their eye is the sweet lines of the Italian-born car.

It’s certainly a car worth looking at. The shark-nose front end seems to push forward in anticipation of acceleration while the cabin—which seats four adults comfortably—sweeps rearward as if the car is already approaching its top speed of 179 mph. The muscular rear end of the car, meanwhile, just drops off like it is already gone, leaving just a glimmer of red taillights in its wake.

The Pininfarina design draws on classic Maserati cars of the past, particularly a 1950 A6G Frua Spyder, but the sculpted look brings Michaelangelo’s statue of David in Florence to mind. Up close, some details can seem discordant and not properly proportioned. But step back a few feet and the car becomes a thing of beauty.

The design dovetails nicely with an engineering sensibility that makes the car feel like a fitted suit. And while the interior is roomy, there is a sense of compactness dictated by the narrow Italian roads I’m becoming increasingly familiar with since my early morning departure from a temple of good taste called the L’Albereta Hotel in Erbusco.

The GranCabrio Sport is primarily designed for touring so I don’t mind very much that traffic is turning me into a local commuter. The leather seats with the integrated headrests are very comfortable, after all.

At Riva di Solto, however, I turn left toward the Alps where, after a short climb, I’m blessed with six minutes of road devoid of traffic. The route features some straightaways and quite a few sharp twists that add spice to the top-down experience, but the ride is still smooth thanks to a suspension employing a Skyhook dampening system.

The hand-assembled 460-horsepower V8 engine is governed by a six-speed transmission, and the car maneuvers well at speed and can hit 60 mph from a standing start in five seconds. The paddle shifters, I discover, are exceptionally large and it’s easy to inadvertently hit one while taking a tight turn in sport mode, for example, but it’s a lesson quickly learned and not repeated. Switching to the quick-shifting sport mode allows exhaust gases to bypass a silencer to produce that throaty engine roar characteristic of Maserati.

This area of Lombardy is known for its Franciaporte sparkling wine and it is regarded by many as Italy’s finest. The Bellavista winery is my destination at the end of the driving day. In all likelihood, they will hear me coming and I have a feeling corks will pop even before I see the place.



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