Motoring | Features

Twin test: Maserati GT Auto and Cambiocorsa

The Maserati Gran Turismo Sport is available in two flavours; one packing a ZF automatic and the other with the Cambiocorsa robotised manual. Imran Malik and Sony Thomas share the spoils

  • By Imran Malik and Sony Thomas
  • Published: 15:57 March 21, 2013
  • Wheels

Maserati GT Auto and Cambiocorsa
  • Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
  • “There may not be too much between them in terms of outright power, but, that’s only on paper. In reality, these two cars are quite different.”
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Imran: A few more colours and we’d have had a full-blown rainbow!

Sony: Hmm, pink and purple would have looked just right on these Italian stallions…

Imran: OK. Point taken. Yellow is probably the only really bright colour that these Gran Turismo Sports can get away with. But I have to say, I still find it a bit too much. It’s shouting “look at me! I’m an exotic beauty!” I don’t like show-offs, but both of these cars have plenty to shout about. Literally…

Sony: Indeed. I was driving the blue Maser, which has the ZF torque converter automatic, through the airport tunnel and every driver in every car that I passed had a look of astonishment on their face at the sheer sound that this car was creating.

Imran: Did you blip down the gears via the steering paddles to give them even more aural pleasure?

Sony: It just had to be done. The amount of thumbs up that this car got was, well, there were too many to count.

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Imran: I only got two while driving my Cambiocorsa robotised manual, which is even louder. I suspect that’s because everyone thought that I was just a poser. Well, I was at JBR posing at the time, so I can’t complain. But with a 4.7-litre V8 at my disposal, I left as soon as I had scoffed my burger, and set off to find an empty road.

Sony: Your eating habits are out of control. Speaking of control, the Gran Turismo Sport gives you plenty of that. But truthfully they aren’t the greatest sportscars out there. The steering offers decent feedback but the chassis isn’t the most perfectly honed. And armed with 460bhp, it’s good to know that the Brembos are built to last — I couldn’t detect any fade. After all, this is a heavy car that tips the scales at 1,880kg. The anchors have to bite and they do.

Imran: OK, so they aren’t out and out sportscars, but you sit so low and hug the road, which coupled with the Skyhook active suspension, gives you confidence to keep your foot planted when you approach a corner. There may not be too much between them in terms of outright power, but that’s only on paper. In reality, these two cars are quite different. For instance, the Cambiocorsa feels better in the corners; it’s so well balanced that it brings out the devil in you. This is partly down to its weight distribution; it’s split 47:53 while your fully automatic is 49:51. There’s less weight on my front axles, meaning I have sharper turn in, because the gearbox is located in a transaxle between the rear wheels. It  grips like a vise and the steering is very precise.

Sony: That rhymes.

Imran: I’m a poet and I know it.

Sony: OK, you can stop now.  So, we’ve got two flavours of the Gran Turismo Sport; the robotised manual and the ZF automatic. Both are six-speeders and regardless of what you call the transmissions, they are both slush boxes.

Imran: Yep. I was hoping my ‘manual’ meant my left foot would be able to come out of retirement but that isn’t the case. It’s still on a rocking chair and smoking a pipe. I’ve got to say I love the way this Cambiocorsa lurches you forward with every gear change. It feels like a manual gearbox even though it isn’t.

Sony: It’s a robot…

Imran: Hmm, moving on. Floor the loud pedal, sorry, the very loud pedal, in the Cambiocorsa and this thing takes off hard and reaches 0-100kph in just 4.7 seconds. Although that’s not super quick, it’s almost as fast as the race-bred MC Stradale.

Sony: Well, my ZF tranny catapults mine from 0-100kph in 4.8 seconds… Basically, it’s almost as quick and best of all, I don’t have bright yellow attention seeking paint. I rather like this cool shade of blue.

Imran: It’s very yellow, isn’t it? Anyway, these two sit in between the entry-level 4.2-litre and the range-topping MC, but they lead the way in terms of power and comfort. You can’t argue with 520Nm of torque and a top speed of 300kph. Best of all, you can drive these daily and when you fancy it, you can bury the throttle and leave everyone in your wake.

Sony: I agree. I mean, who needs three-point seat belts and a roll-cage? If the MC is that powerful, then should it be on the roads at all? In any case, I like the seats better in the Gran Turismo, they don’t squeeze you as tight as those in the MC and you also get two in the back as well, although just who will be able to sit there is another matter. The cabin is very well designed too. However, hit that Sport button and it transforms into a full-blown racecar.

Imran: Mine too. The V8 really wakes up upon hitting that button on the carbon-fibre dash. Gear changes are far more aggressive in this. It’s like you’re being smacked in the back by a wrecking ball. It swaps cogs in 100 milliseconds — that’s half the time taken by your ZF system. And speaking of carbon fibre, I get more of the magic weave in my cabin than you do in yours, and it looks fabulous. Oh, and back-seat passengers get 20mm more legroom in here.

Sony: I think we all know that nobody would dare carry four passengers in these cars.
Anyway, it’s the driver who’ll have the most fun. But they drive quite hard, don’t they? This would be great on the track, but not so great around town.

Imran: The Cambiocorsa rides very firm indeed. Those huge 20in wheels don’t help much. But they look great. Which brings me nicely to my next point; both these cars boast solid performance, no doubt about it, but they’re more for those who want to be seen and heard.

Sony: Sorry, I didn’t hear you; I was too busy revving the engine in my car.

Imran: I SAID THEY’RE MORE FOR… oh, forget it.

Specs and ratings

Model: Gran Turismo Sport
Engine: 4,7-litre V8
Transmission: Six-speed Cambiocorsa robotised manual, RWD
Max power: 460bhp at 7,000rpm
Max torque: 520Nm at 4,750rpm
Top speed: 300kph
0-100kph: 4.7secs
Price: Dh555,000 (as tested)

Model: Gran Turismo Sport
Engine: 4,7-litre V8
Transmission: Six-speed ZF torque converter auto, RWD
Max power: 460bhp at 7,000rpm
Max torque: 520Nm at 4,750rpm
Top speed: 300kph 0-100kph 4.8secs
Price: Dh517,000 (as tested)

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