Pavarotti hitting the high Cs in Nessun dorma won’t stir your soul as much as a Maserati GranTurismo Convertible hitting 7,000 rpm in second gear.
The soundtrack from its Ferrari-assembled V8 starts as a moanful wail and climaxes to an urgent, decibel-intense howl that rattles shop windows, pummels eardrums and sends small pets scurrying for cover.
Anti-social? Yep. A mechanical symphony? You bet. A solo voce Italian aria played through a pair of storm-drain-sized mufflers? Undoubtedly.
Maserati’s GranTurismo Convertible is all about soul. Yes, there are other two-door convertibles out there that are quicker, more powerful, more dynamic, more thrilling to drive. And way better value.
Yet none stir the soul, tingle the fingertips and embrace you in classy, elegant Italian design and craftsmanship like this magical Maserati grand tourer.
But man, is it getting on in years. First introduced way back in 2007, this is the Betty White of sportscars. A factoid worth noting; the GT came on the scene before the very first iPhone arrived, George W. was in the White House and we were still watching The Sopranos.
Thankfully, Maserati has moved on, producing tech-rich new models like the Levante SUV, and Ghibli and Quattroporte high-luxe sedans. But for some sweet reason, they’ve left the GranTurismo pretty much untouched, satisfying lovers of old-school Italian style and beauty.
But you really have to want this throwback from Modena. While the Convertible Sport will set you back $150,980, the sportier Convertible MC I’ve been driving sticker-shocks at a non-trivial $164,980. Our options-heaped test car topped out at a rather ambitious $197,012.
So what is it that sets this retro Maserati apart and commands such a lofty price tag?
For starters, it’s just stunning to look at. All those rolling curves, that thrusting grille, the muscley stance. This car defines the word bellissimo.
Then there’s the interior. Sink down into the hip-hugging sports seats and it’s like stepping into a Bottega Veneta handbag. The aroma, the exquisite hand-stitching, the buttery feel of the leather.
And just gasp in awe at the color. The glowing lipstick red — Rosso Corallo in Maserati-speak — of our test car’s cabin makes it feel like you’re dropping into a bath of strawberry puree.
And it’s a four-seater. No, you wouldn’t want to subject friends or family seated in the back to cross-country drives. But for a quick trip to dinner, it works. And the rear seats make a fine storage shelf to compensate for the miserably teeny trunk.
But to drive this Italian stallion is to love it.
Perched under that curvy hood is a 4.7-liter V8 based on the motor that powered the old Ferrari 360 Modena.
It’s truly old-school with its lack of turbos or superchargers to boost its power. In the GranTurismo, the V8 delivers a so-so 454-horsepower — remember a humble $45-grand Mustang GT Convertible 5.0 packs 460 horseys these days.
But the engine is so passionate to rev, to bellow out that glorious sound track, and punch this 4,300-pound heavyweight from standstill to 60 in 4.7 seconds.
In true grand tourer style, the car is more a cruiser than a bruiser, riding smoothly over lumps and bumps, slicing effortlessly through curves like it’s running on invisible rails, ready to leap into action at the tap of the Sport button.
While the GranTurismo definitely feels its advancing years — heck, you have to start it with a key rather than push a button — the car simply oozes Italian charm.
A classic it may be, but I guarantee one drive and you’ll be singing “That’s amore.”
Test drive the 2019 Maserati GranTurismo Convertible at Maserati of Tampa and Maserati of St. Petersburg in Pinellas Park.
Editor’s Note: St. Petersburg-based motoring writer Howard Walker has been reviewing new vehicles for national and regional publications for more than four decades. Currently the auto editor for Palm Beach Illustrated and Naples Illustrated, he writes a car column for the print edition of duPont Registry Tampa Bay, for which he also publishes “Weekend Wheels” — a weekly online review of some of the hottest new luxury models.