After their great success, the previous year, Maserati was eager to push on with their clear advantage. Their first edition of the GranTurismo, with its Ferrari powered 4.2 liter V8 engine, had already caught the imagination of the driving public. Especially in the United States, which was a market they were specifically targeting. So, their next plan of action was to focus on America once again and produce something that would entice their most discerning drivers.
Maserati knew they would need to offer more driving performance from their Grand Tourer. Something more powerful and faster, something that would be more attuned to flat out racing. The result would be the 2009 Maserati GranTurismo S. During its short, four year life span, only 300 models rolled off their production line and all destined for the shores of America, each one was to become a collectors’ item.
The engineers from Modena were able to apply some slight modifications to the Ferrari V8 aluminum engine so they could increase its power and output. While the “base” GranTurismo would produce 405 horsepower and 340 pound-feet of torque, the 2009 Maserati GranTurismo S could achieve 433 bhp and 361 pound-feet of torque.
This extra power shaves seconds off its times too. The Base model will go from 0 to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds and make the quarter mile in 13.6 seconds (which is a speed of 104.5 mph). The GranTurismo S has improved on both of those numbers with the 0-60 sprint being reached in 4.5 seconds and the quarter mile reached in 12.9 seconds at a speed of 110.5 mph.
This would improve its top speed, as well. The GranTurismo Sport would be six mph faster than the Base model, making it, at 183 mph, the most powerful road legal Maserati ever produced at that time.
Another key change in the production of the 2009 Maserati GranTurismo S would be a complete overhaul of its transmission. They would replace the ZF six-speed automatic transmission with one from Graziano. This was a six-speed automated manual transmission that could be utilized through six different operating modes. In its most “sporty” mode the gear change would occur in less than the blink of an eye. Down from 300 milliseconds to just 100 milliseconds giving it a phenomenal response. This mode also bypasses some of the exhaust pipe mufflers which unleashes the throaty roar of the Maserati engine.
This would be the only model of GranTurismo that did not apply the ZF automatic transmission. The Graziano version employs a dry twin-plate clutch and allowed the driver to have almost total control of the gears without having a clutch pedal. By a light tap on the right wheel paddle the car will engage the next gear in a smooth and seamless fashion. Even at a redline of 7500 rpm, the GranTurismo S will slip from first to second effortlessly.
Some drivers criticized its gear changing when the fully automated transmission was engaged, saying it was too slow. But though that function was installed, it was not supposed to be used. Maserati would explain that this was a car only to be driven in the manual mode – they put the “S” on the end of the name for a reason.
Maserati would modify the Base model GranTurismo in other areas too. Suspension components have been stiffened by 10 pc, while the front brakes have bigger rotors, increased from 13 inches to 14.2 inches though reducing the weight of them by using aluminum hats. The wheels come in a standard 20 inch alloy that are graced by wide Pirelli P Zero Rosso tires which are used to the fullest when turning into corners at high speed.
The balance of the 2009 Maserati GranTurismo S has been improved yet again with a 47/53 front to back weight ratio. This has been achieved by splitting up the engine and transmission with the engine sitting just behind the front axle while the transmission is located before the rear axle. This in turn gives the car a much better response in cornering and prevents drift or understeer. The weight of the car has been reduced by 70 lbs in an effort to increase speed.
Safety is readily apparent with a full complement of front and side airbags while the driving is assisted by anti-lock brakes and a stability control system. Though you can still perform some daring maneuvers before the system kicks in to prevent too much “excitement”. Though drivers should be mindful of the pedals as they sit close together. To ease the speedier control of the Maserati, both the brake and the accelerator can be applied without moving your heel on the floor. But, if you are not careful, you can end up stamping down on both at the same time.
Maserati have taken the spirit of this “racer” and made adjustments accordingly with an added spoiler on the rear deck and new rocker panels (side skirts). The front of the GTS has been given a more aggressive look with the headlight casing and grille redone in black. A nice touch added to this model was on the wheels themselves. Each of the seven spokes ends with a trident appearing to imbed itself into the wall of the tire. As the wheels turn, at an ever-increasing speed, it looks as if the road is being torn up by tridents as the car gains traction.
Luxury is Standard
The opulence of the interior of the 2009 Maserati GranTurismo S is still at a heightened level. Everywhere your eyes track around the cabin you see leather, wood and chrome. The leather hides, covering the seats, steering wheel, side panels and parts of the dash come in ten different tones and matched with 13 different hand stitching. The headliners and carpets come in various tones as well while there are three different types of wood that can be used. These are installed in one fitted piece and not in individual chunks glued together.
The exterior runs the full gamut of an artist’s palette with 19 different paints to choose from for the color of the bodywork. This is also complimented by being able to choose from six different colors for the Brembo brake calipers. Put together and there are over four million variations to choose from to make up each bespoke model.
Not-So Tech Savvy
Despite its high price of US$135,000, when it went on sale, the 2009 Maserati GranTurismo S had far less high-tech gadgetry installed then most of its competitors – not even Bluetooth or a satellite radio. But for Maserati, being the racing purists that they are, maybe did not appreciate their importance at the start? If you are driving a Maserati, you are in the seat to marvel at the experience and the engine roar behind you rather than listening to music or taking a phone call.
But they did install a sound system and similar to the model that was installed in the Base GranTurismo. The Bose 11 speaker surround sound system features a rather cheap looking black plastic radio unit and a seven inch touchscreen navigation system. These were linked up to a 33 gig hard drive that could store both sat nav information and downloaded CD’s. However, none of this worked very well.
Trying to rip CD’s into the hard drive was a very cumbersome affair. It would take half an hour to download just one disk and the system could not automatically label the tracks. The driver would have to manually input every song title via the touchscreen keyboard or just be left with a whole selection of anonymous albums and tracks.
The satellite navigation system was from Europe and could not install a lot of the information from other territories. In America, it could not load up the places of interest along routes and only had limited viewing of street names too. With such a user unfriendly system for the buyer, this became the biggest bugbear for new owners. This was something that took Maserati a long time to fix.
Maserati had great confidence in their customer base. By offering this upgraded model at a further US$21,000 more than the Base model did not deter them at all. Even with a price tag of US$135,000, they knew full well that the allure of this finely tuned road racer would be too much for any discerning driver and collector to resist. The fact that this was the fastest Maserati on the road ever created and only available at a very limited amount would ensure that it would be eagerly snapped up.
This would also set the standards for all GranTurismos to come. Engine size and performance saw the bar raised with this GranTurismo S and future models followed suit. Ensuring that the Maserati GranTurismo would stake its place at the highest table of top performing grand touring cars.
The Trident had once again assured its place in motoring legend.