Legend & Luxury: Maserati

LO Profile | July 5, 2011

No matter which route you take from point A to point B, the roads are pretty much the same. Same signs. Same stoplights. Same roadside service stations. The long downhill straightaways, easy interstate curves and sharp backcountry bends are all there. The drive is static, unchanging. It’s what you drive that makes all the  difference.

When most people think of luxury sports car brands, they think of BMW, Audi or Mercedes. Although these are well-crafted vehicles, they seem obviously overmatched when compared to the Italian Maserati. The slogan says it all: Excellence Through Passion. From the radical, sleek exterior designs to the intricately detailed interiors, the passion is ever-present and has been since the beginning of Maserati’s existence.

Rich in history and heritage, the brand was born on December 1, 1914 in Bologna, Italy. As with any company, the success of a brand relies solely on results. Initially, Maserati’s results were achieved in the racing industry. It took a family of brothers to create the first vehicle. All six Maserati brothers were involved in the creation and engineering of the cars with the exception of one. Brother Mario was a painter, and although he didn’t work directly on manufacturing the vehicles, he used his artistic abilities to create the legendary Trident trademark. The Olympian god, Neptune, stands with this powerful trident in Bologna’s city square. It is said that the never-aging Neptune could create tidal waves strong enough to snap ships in half. Today, the symbolism of the trident still fits the Maserati brand most appropriately as it continues to be seemingly immortal and takes the sports-car industry by storm with innovation.

As the Maserati name grew, so did the accolades. In 1929, the V4 engine arrived on the scene, and the crew took the vehicle to the limit as they set the world Class-C speed record over 10km at 246.069 km/h in Cremona, Italy. In a more familiar sports venue, the Indianapolis 500, the 8CTF claimed victory in two consecutive races. To this day, Maserati is the only Italian brand to have captured that trophy. Successful racing continued throughout the 1900s.

Eventually, ownership of the company changed hands. In 1971, the focus on racing transitioned to mass production for the public. The evolution from the Bora to the Biturbo – with several models in between — attracted the attention of Fiat, who acquired the company’s entire share capital in 1993. In 1997, Fiat sold Maserati to Ferrari, and a new era began for the company. Maserati’s historical commitment to winning is vital to the success of the brand and continues to be carried to the present day with high regard.

Currently, the company has three primary dazzling models and a total of 11 designs. The GranCabrio is Maserati’s drop-top darling. This four-seat coupe is striking, with smooth, tapering curves, yet appears ferocious, ready to tear up every mile of road in its path. Aerodynamically designed, the long, sloping hood and the steeply pitched windshield reduce drag dramatically. As for the driving performance: Incredibly smooth, easy to handle and exhilaratingly powerful. The top, available in six colors, is uniquely designed with three substantial layers to reduce wind noise and to insulate the driver from Mother Nature’s sudden surprises. Inside, the vehicle comfortably seats four with ample leg room and plush leather seating. Intricate, real wood moldings throughout the dash and door panels add panache to the interior. The dash display includes a navigation system, CD/radio, on-board computer and a 30GB hard disk to store up to 180 hours of music. The AudioPilot system has a small microphone in the dash that monitors the noise level inside the car and adjusts the sound equalization accordingly through the 12 premium Bose speakers.

Next in line is the GranTurismo. Though it certainly looks like a sports car, it’s actually a touring car — one with enough torque to set your heart racing, going from zero to 60 mph in 4.9 – 5.1 seconds, yet built for long-distance comfort. The exterior is breathtaking, with a steady blend of sharp lines and wind-piercing curves. This coupe seats four, and is available in both the base design and the S Automatic for true speed seekers. Just like its convertible sibling, the GranTurismo sports  high-level technology. Leather surrounds nearly every surface from front to back and is customizable in a wide variety of colors. Check out the vehicle in Sport mode, and you’ll experience a more responsive acceleration and tighter suspension. Simply put, the GranTurismo is the perfect choice for the sports-car enthusiast searching for the comfort of a full-size sedan.

The smooth and subtle shaping of the QuattroPorte quickly separates this sedan from other high-end makes and models. Nearly unchanged in the past six years, the QuattroPorte has truly set the luxury sports car sedan standard. With LED lighting for headlights and taillights, a night drive or slight touch of the brake pedal will surely make this car stand out. Inside, new seat positions increase line of vision and provide ultimate comfort. The seats come with options to upgrade to Poltrona Frau Leather, with massage capabilities and headrests embossed with the Maserati trident logo. The rear armrest stores two glasses for your favorite wine or Champagne. Available in three trim levels, the most powerful and recent update to the line is the QuattroPorte GT S. It boasts 440hp and 490 lb-ft of torque — not your grandma’s trip-to-the-grocery-store car.

So now that you know the legendary history, superior models and expansive features, you may be thinking: Why drive a Maserati? Is it for the speed? The impeccable attention to detail? The image-altering mask you inevitably wear when you slip into the driver’s seat? The answers: Yes, yes and yes! Maserati owners are as passionate about looks, style and class as the six brothers were about racing. Somewhere between then and now this powerful combination exploded into one of the most beautifully branded sports cars made today.

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