The Maserati GranTurismo is back, combining beauty, power and performance in a package that's considerably more modern than before. As an indication of how far it has come, the new GranTurismo is even available in electric 'Folgore' form, which sees the gas-guzzling V6 replaced with not one but three electric motors. It's more powerful than the petrol versions, and it's much cleaner, but is it as much fun? We hit the track in a pre-production prototype to find out.
In the metal
Both petrol and electric versions of the GranTurismo look decidedly familiar, with design inspired by the previous car. But don't be fooled, because while the style may not have changed much, there are plenty of differences you can't see.
Chief among these is the fact that the car has grown slightly. It's a few millimetres longer and wider, and there's more space inside as a result. And this Folgore version is set apart from its internal combustion powered siblings by dint of its revised front end and tweaked rear bumper. More specifically, the electric car does away with some of the front vents used for cooling the petrol car's intercooler, and there are no exhaust outlets at the rear for obvious reasons. As a result, it cuts through the air in a slightly cleaner way - aerodynamically speaking.
Under the skin, the Folgore shares its platform with the petrol GranTurismos, but there are some changes to accommodate the battery. Not that you'd notice those from inside the car, where the cabin is more or less unchanged, aside from some slightly different touchscreen features to help control the battery and motors.
That means you get the same split touchscreen display also seen in the new Grecale SUV, and that's good news. Although the system isn't perfect, it's far better than the touchscreen in the old GranTurismo, and indeed any other Maserati product released prior to 2020. That's joined by a configurable digital instrument display also pinched from the Grecale, and the digital clock display on the dashboard. There's a big head-up display, too, although the low driving position means it can distract from what's going on up ahead.
Nevertheless, it's a step forward for Maserati and the GranTurismo in terms of technology, and that's to be applauded. And the technology isn't limited to the screens. Maserati has also invested in more sustainable interior materials, with customers offered a laser-cut seat fabric made from recycled fishing nets, for example. Available in a choice of colours and designs, as per Maserati's personalisation programme, the material feels a bit like suede but it's smoother and more 'technical' in its appearance. It feels futuristic, and that suits the GranTurismo Folgore well.
As does the way the car is built. The quality is inherited from the petrol-powered GranTurismos, which have made a big step up in terms of both materials and construction. Perhaps a BMW 8 Series feels a little more solid, but the GranTurismo isn't far behind in terms of either material quality or engineering. In fact, our only complaints are with the plasticky bezel around the digital clock face and the slightly cheap plastic buttons on the steering wheel. Otherwise, it's every inch the premium grand tourer.
Aside from that, the only issues are ergonomic. The gear selection buttons, for example, require a really positive press, while we remain unconvinced by all manufacturers' insistence on using touchscreens for climate control. Otherwise, the GranTurismo's cabin is great, and that goes for the petrol and electric versions.
Unfortunately, while the Folgore might have the style and quality of its petrol-powered siblings, it doesn't quite have the practicality, with a marginally smaller luggage bay thanks to the two electric motors under the boot floor. That said, at 270 litres, it's only 40 litres smaller than that of a GranTurismo Trofeo, and it's still just as practical as the old GranTurismo. Maserati says there's more rear space, too, and while there's just about room to cram in an adult passenger if necessary, the GranTurismo is best used as a two-seater. And that means you can use the back seats as a leather-bound parcel shelf providing ample storage.
Although the Folgore will not go into production until the summer, Maserati let us loose at the Vallelunga track, near Rome, in one of its pre-production prototypes, which the company describes as "85 per cent complete". It isn't ideal conditions for a test, and we'll doubtless tweak this when we get our hands on a finished example on a public road, but in every area except ride comfort, we managed to get some idea of the car's capabilities.
Of which, it should be said, there are many. Let's start with the power, which is incredible. With two electric motors on the rear axle and one at the front, the Folgore (which loosely means 'lightning' in Italian) can produce up to 761hp and a massive 1,350Nm of torque. That's enough for a 0-100km/h time of 2.7 seconds - faster than the MC20 supercar. The 325km/h top speed also puts this four-seat grand tourer in supercar territory.
But what's really crazy about the Folgore is that it could go even faster, were it not for the battery pack. You see, each of the three electric motors can produce up to 408hp at any one time, allowing a theoretical maximum of well over 1,200hp. But the battery simply can't provide enough power to the electric motors for that to be an option, so we have to make do with 761hp.
Nonetheless, the performance bottleneck means the 92.5kWh battery is capable of conveying the car up to 450km on the official efficiency test, although even Maserati says such figures are fanciful in the real world. The Italian engineers reckon around 350km should be achievable for customers, and that ought to be plenty for most. The figure should improve in future, too, because Maserati is working on getting more from the battery. At present, the 450km official range is achieved using just 83- of the battery's 92.5kWh, allowing Maserati to prolong the battery's life. However, as development continues, the company says over-the-air updates will increase the usable capacity.
But while Maserati has been a little conservative with battery capacity, the company has been bold when it comes to charging capability. The 800-volt battery allows super-fast charging at up to 270kW - the same as the Porsche Taycan. In plain English, that means a 350kW charger will be able to top up the Folgore's battery from 20- to 80 per cent in less than 20 minutes.
Range, charging and performance aside, the battery is quite a remarkable thing in itself. Unlike the Porsche Taycan, which has a big slab of batteries under the floor, the GranTurismo Folgore has a taller battery that fits under the transmission tunnel and the boot floor in a kind of cross shape. That means the driver can sit lower in the car, and it keeps all the weight close to the middle of the vehicle.
According to Maserati, that's important, because the company did not want the car to feel like other electric vehicles. The advantage of fitting the battery under the floor is that the structure becomes stiffer and the weight is positioned lower in the car, reducing body roll. But the weight is still there and it still has to be managed, which often results in cars feeling as though they're floating on their springs, and not in a good way. Instead, Maserati wanted the Folgore to feel and handle more like the V6-engined Modena and Trofeo models, so the taller battery went in.
The result is, predictably, a car that leans much more than a Taycan, but it still feels very natural and well controlled. Were it not for the synthesised motor note, which is supposed to sound like a cross between the old GranTurismo's V8 and a conventional electric motor (the results are predictably odd), you could be fooled into thinking you were driving a normal GT car. And a well-sorted one at that. Grip is plentiful, the steering is responsive and though the brakes are unfinished, the fly-by-wire pedal still gives a good imitation of feel through the first part of its travel. This is a car that loves to be driven at eight tenths of its capability, because while it can be exciting at the limit, it's at its best flowing neatly through corners and putting down its devastating power in between.
Unsurprisingly, there are teething problems Maserati still needs to fix. The company wants to tune the suspension further to dial out some of the understeer in fast corners, and the braking system struggles to balance the demands of four-stage regeneration and anti-lock braking. There's something not quite right with the power delivery to the rear axle, too, because in Sport mode the electronic nannies seem to step in abruptly and over-zealously at inconvenient moments. But Maserati says it knows about these issues and it plans to iron them out before production starts. If it can do that, it'll have a fine electric GT car on its hands.
What you get for your money
As Maserati currently has no official presence in the Republic of Ireland, you'll have to head north of the border to import the new GranTurismo. Maserati hasn't yet announced official prices, however, so we can only guess what the Folgore will cost, even with a low VRT rate.
Although we don't yet know how the Folgore will ride on the road, we do know that it feels remarkably similar to the GranTurismo Trofeo in most areas. On the track, the Maserati feels like a beautifully crafted grand tourer, but whether that makes sense when combined with the electric motor remains to be seen. For now, this looks like a strong effort and, with slightly more ambitious battery capacity and perfected power delivery, it could provide stiff competition for the Porsche Taycan.