Firenze, or Florence, as most refer to this elegant city in the heart of Tuscany, is home to many works of art. It is here the Renaissance statue of David by Italian artist Michelangelo resides in the Galleria dell’Accademia, a short stroll from the Duomo. But on this day, crowds surrounding the city center have only one thing on their minds. The sound of the 2013 Maserati GranTurismo Sport as it reverberates between centuries old buildings creates a stir powerful enough to cause line-ups as I arrive at the hotel. Reaching my destination via cobblestone roads, getting out and into the lobby is made possible only with the help of an attentive valet.
Maserati is as much a part of Italian culture as are great works of art, fine red wine and speaking with your hands. Women and men are equally drawn to the brand. Maserati is sensual, refined, sporty and elegant all at the same time, something only a handful of luxury automakers have been able to master. The trident logo takes heritage from the main fountain in Bologna, Italy. Ferrari builds the engine to Maserati specifications. Body lines mimic a shape of athleticism and the erotic in a way only Victoria Secrets fully understands. If there is a theme song for the brand, it must start with the line, “I’m sexy and I know it.”
Power for the 2013 Maserati GranTurismo Sport comes in the form of a 4.7-litre V8 engine. Diamond Like Coating (DLC) on the camshaft lobes and tappets, plus wet sump lubrication are designed to reduce friction. Performance numbers indicate 454 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 384 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,750 rpm.
A rear-wheel drive, 2-door coupe with seating for four, we accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 4.8 seconds shifting an automatic transmission. Top speed reaches the elusive 300 km/h. Power steering is exact and near perfect, even when road surfaces are not. This is a sports coupe built for driving and I take advantage of every opportunity to put the hammer down and let it go!
Inside, Bianco Pregiato (white) leather adorns the seats, center console, lower dash and door panels. A carbon fiber band separates the dark and light colours of the dash as well as the console shifter. Gear changes take place via the console lever or steering wheel mounted paddle-shifters – my preference every time. All controls are within easy reach, including the stereo and navigation system which surprises me with its accuracy and ease of us.
My arrival into Florence takes place at Hotel Savoy Firenze, a Rocco Forte Hotel. The location is perfect, in the middle of the old city with easy access to all tourist sites. Standing in front of the hotel, to my right is the Duomo and galleria, to my left the main square, shopping, gelato and a short fifteen minute walk to the famous Ponte Vecchio Bridge. Streets are narrow in spots, even for Italy and it requires a great deal of concentration when driving the Maserati GranTurismo Sport. But the effort is well worth it.
A total of 88 rooms and 14 suites grace the interior of the hotel. Colour schemes are rich and contemporary Italian. Parquet floors add a touch of elegance. My superior deluxe room features a king-size bed, marble bathroom and separate walk-in shower.
Large windows look out towards the Piazza della Repubblica; it’s a sight I simply can’t get enough of. Who needs climate control when the view through an open window is so magnificent? Dinning takes place at the 2 Michelin starred L’Incontro restaurant. Breakfast is served buffet style or a la carte. It’s the place to be for crowd watching and I bask in the view while enjoying a full course dinner.
A short, but challenging drive from the city given the number of one way streets and traffic, I take a steady path upward towards Viale Michelangelo. The road is tight at first, leading to a roundabout and subsequent twists and turns past ancient trees. It’s a drive worthy of Italy. At the top, the city stretches away in the distance, a vision of beauty and chaos mixed together for nearly two millennia. I am speechless at the sight.
Meanwhile, a crowd has gathered around the Maserati GranTurismo Sport once again. It seems many things last forever in Italy, including their love of fine automobiles.
2013 Maserati GranTurismo Sport
Configuration: front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 4.7L 8 cyl / 6-spd automatic
Power/torque: 454 hp/ 384 lb-ft
Fuel (capacity): Premium (75L)
Fuel economy ratings: 18.0 L/100km city; 11.7 L/100km hwy
Observed fuel economy: 14.8 L/100km over 550 km
Competitors: Audi R8, Aston Martin DBS Volante, Ferrari California, Jaguar XKR-S, Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG, Porsche 911 Turbo
Where to stay:
Hotel Savoy, Firenze
Piazza della Repubblica 7 50123 Florence, Italy