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Maserati GranTurismo: A car for the senses
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The 2012 Maserati GranTurismo MC is the fastest and most powerful car in the Maserati lineup. With an infusion of performance from the companys Maserati Corse race division, pricing starts at $143,400. - photo by Photo Contributed

“My Maserati does 185 ...” You probably can sing along to the “Life’s Been Good” hit by Joe Walsh in his wild and crazy days when he could afford to lose his license.

And the reworked 2012 Maserati GranTurismo MC (Maserati Corse) is the fastest and most powerful car in the Maserati lineup. With an infusion of performance from the company’s Maserati Corse race division, the coupe will do 187 mph and 0-60 mph in an easy 4.8 seconds — and probably quicker, the company says.

The GranTurismo has an organic strength to its hands-on driving experience. There is richness to the leather and an interior that is largely hand-assembled by workers who seem to care about their craft. It is the charge that comes from turning the ignition key and just hearing the launch of the cylinders and then the exhaust as it rolls out in even syncopation in praise of premium fuel.

Pricing for the coupe starts at $143,400, including $1,700 gas-guzzler tax and $1,800 freight from Modena, Italy. And that’s value packaging, which includes almost $14,000 in accessories, such as a carbon fiber steering wheel and interior trim, MC autoshift transmission, black grille and Alcantara headliner.

Dealers were ordering the standard GT S model with almost $14,000 in options and customers were buying it, Allan said. The well-optioned cars were selling eight days faster than lesser-equipped cars.

Despite the economy, Maserati had a good 2010, which allowed it to add performance models to its coupe and convertible. The Quattroporte sedan is a carryover.

Last year Maserati sold 2,035 cars in the U.S. and 10,000 worldwide, which isn’t such a trifle in this super-luxury segment. With starting prices of $100,000, this market has stayed flat or is down a bit, while the high-luxury segment ($70,000) went up, the company says.

The marque has experienced the best success yet of the four-seat, two-door Grand Turismo, and it also was the most profitable year, with costs being brought under control. “We’re back and doing quite well,” said Rob Allan, director of product planning for Maserati.

New for 2012, Maserati has stepped up all cars to the 4.7-liter V-8 and has done away with the 4.2-liter. Most customers were buying the 4.7 anyway, Allan said.

Upgrades from the standard model include: reworked aerodynamic package, MC six-speed autoshift transmission, single-rate suspension, the upgraded 444 hp (a 10 hp boost) V-8 engine, sport exhaust and carbon fiber interior trim.

When you hear this car, the sound will become synonymous with a Maserati. At high revs, lighter mufflers with a hinged bypass let out a wail from deep within that recalls a Formula 1 racer.

Aerodynamic enhancements include a front bumper with integrated chin splitter and side skirts that blend into the front fenders with air intakes at the trailing edge. The rear has a redesigned bumper fascia and sport exhaust repositioned a bit inward that sends a serious message. A lip spoiler on the deck lid is huge in Maserati’s opinion but just a subtle kick-up to everybody else. New, black 20-inch wheels integrate the Maser trident.

All the aero treatments aid down-force and stability at high speeds, Maserati says, but also fuel economy. The wheels and lighter exhaust system saved 10 and 12 pounds each, but the steel-bodied car is heavy at 4,145 pounds.

Even with more power, including 375 foot-pounds of torque, engine refinements have increased fuel economy by 6 percent. Not that a Maser owner is overly concerned about mileage, but the savings converts to $400 less on the gas-guzzler tax, now $1,700. The six-speed transmission seems yester-tech when competitors are going to seven- and eight speeds, but it’s the best six-speed by manufacturer ZF, Allan said. Another gear or two would increase highway fuel economy, but the ratios were appropriate for around-town and performance driving.

The Maserati Stability Program system is always active in the background, but it never got in the way when I was pushing hard up the backside of county Route S22 from Borrego Springs, Calif. It was 110 degrees in the desert, and I was in second and third gears, lunging from corner to corner, occasionally hitting the rev limiter. While the Maser’s air conditioner was challenged, the engine did not overheat and not once did I sense braking or throttle intervention. The car had more to give, but I was at my limit.

Braking force is absolute and comes from 14.96-inch steel-aluminum vented front rotors with six-piston calipers and rear 14.7-inch steel, vented discs with four-piston calipers.

This is not a car that feels as if it just rolled off a robotized assembly line and has been electronically sanitized for mainstream consumption. The GranTurismo MC is a car for the senses and a sensation for the driver.