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Byline: Darren Liggett

UP until now the closest I've have ever had to driving a Maserati was on my Playstion.

You can imagine my excitement then when I received a call from Charles Hurst Specialist Car Division asking me if I'd like to go play in a Maserati GranTurismo S Auto for the weekend.

As if I'd say no - who in their right mind wouldn't like to spend some time with a car that looks and sounds like this.

I'd be happy just to go along and wash it for them but in the interests of research I'll take it for a drive too.

Let's start with the basics. There are five models to choose from. The GranTurismo, the GranTurismo S Auto, the GranTurismo S, the GranTurismo MC Stradale and finally there is also a GranCabrio that surprise, surprise is a convertible.

The standard GranTurismo starts at pounds 82,220. The model you see here is the GranTurismo S Auto at pounds 88,670 but it can come with a special pearlescent paint that costs a cool pounds 5,400.

Under that beautifully sculpted body there is room for four adults seated comfortably.

At the heart of the GranTurismo S Auto lies a Ferrari produced 4.7-litre V8 engine that can catapult it from 0-60mph in only five seconds. Top speed is an eye-watering, licence losing 183 mph.

A Aut V8 0-60 spee 183 Th su s b tu tu tu t r of o in in it lik bl bab fo for to to to r hu hug mas Th F1 c The noise from the engine is simply sublime. When you turn the key, instead of it just firing up into a low burble like a normal car, it blips the revs up to about 3,000rpm just for a second or two to remind you of the huge potential of that massive engine.

ou d p e it ost o e at Think of a Ferrari F1 car sound and you ri u hav glor fro bon qua have an idea of the glorious note omitted from under the bonnet and from the quad exhuasts at the rear. On the open road the noise is even better. e d e e e d n in It sounds great in normal driving mode especially when you kick down a gear but another treat is the sport mode button.

In sport the V8 sounds even better. After pressing the button it opens the pneumatic valves in the exhaust, allowing the engine to reach peak performance while managing to sound like God clearing his throat.

It even burbles and cackles on idle. I found myself staying in sport mode to hear the noise and to let pedestrians and other road users hear it too.

In a Maserati you do attract a lot of attention, all of it positive though. It's not every day you see one so the polite thing to do is to oblige the admirers with a V8 symphony of engine noise and exhaust note nicety. I totally get it now why people love Italian supercars.

After spending three glorious days behind the wheel of this it's hard to beat an Italian thoroughbred. There is testosterone pumping around its engine and passion handsewn into the leather interior. On the flipside it can also be civilised if you want it to be. You don't have to drive like you are on a F1 track. There und dr.

o It's docile around town but also superbly comfortable on long runs. I went for a drive and ended up in Dublin, as you do.

t n nd o. r that Not once did I feel tired or that the journey took it out of me. The opposite in fact. I found it hard not to be behind the wheel. For such a big comfortable grand tourer it's also very nimble on the road and not a hard car to manoeuvre around country lanes at speed.

lanes I thA I shouldn't be surprised though as the GranTurismo S Auto comes with standard 20" alloy wheels and a special electronic suspension system called Skyhook.

o ac reg whee This assures the automatic and continuous adjustment of the damping using acceleration sensors that register the movements of each wheel and the body of the car. A high-speed control unit processes this data and instantly adapts the setting of the shocks. Choose between normal or sport.

The normal mode has softer damping for greater comfort. Press my favourite button, sport, and you have a harder set-up, with greatly reduced roll angles and pitch.

This also enhances stability and ensures maximum driver involvement and enjoyment during fast driving.

With all that power the brakes are special too. Made by Brembo they have 360mm front discs with six-piston aluminium calipers.

There isn't a bad angle on the Gran-Turismo S Auto.

Thanks to Pininfarina's skilful hand it looks as gorgeous from the rear as it does the front or sides. The rear triangular lights are comprised of 96 LEDs, and there's a wide aerodynamic diffuser incorporated into the bottom of the Price: From pounds 82,220 Engine: 4.7-litre 0-62mph: 5 seconds Top speed: 183mph Fuel consumption: bumper. Who cares Inside it's beautiful too, you have full leather interior with countless different variations of coloured leathers, wood, lacquers and carpets to choose from.

The seats are electric of course and with the option of memory settings. And you'll find more than enough toys to keep you busy.

Sat nav, optional BOSE Surround Sound System with 11 speakers, voicecommand, a 30GB internal memory supercar V8, 440bhp for storing all your music files and of course USB connectivity.

The Maserati Gran-Turismo Auto is everything you could wish for in a car and more. Compared to a Ferrari you could almost say it's good value and practical thanks to the two adult seats in the back and a decent sized boot.

If I never write another column or test drive another car then I can go to my grave happy after my Maserati experience. Saying that, Charles Hurst did mention an up and coming Maserati track day at Kirkistown. I'm sure I could be persuaded again.

THE FACTS are 96 a Maserati Granturiso S Auto Three-door supercar Price: From pounds 82,220 Engine: 4.7-litre V8, 440bhp 0-62mph: 5 seconds the Top speed: 183mph Fuel consumption: Who cares too, wish


BEAUTIFUL J The Maserati Granturismo S and below right, the 4.7-litre Ferrari V8 with 440bhp tre 4.7 F ITALIAN 3 STALION I get to pretend it like Beckham for a glorious weekend behind the wheel of one of Italy's finest supercars
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Title Annotation:News; Opinion, Columns
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 1, 2012

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