There’s nothing quite like a road trip through the Italian countryside. No matter the circumstances, it’s almost always a good idea, an opportunity not to be passed up. The scenery, the food, the scented air, even the stops for espresso at the closest Autogrill—all are worth the price of admission. If your Italian road trip involves piloting an Italian car, all the better. If said Italian car is a Maserati—well you, my friend, have won the lottery.
At least, this was the collective impression of a small group invited to sample the all-new Maserati GranTurismo and its all-electric counterpart, the GranTurismo Folgore. Held earlier this year, the drive experience was a special one even before anyone had the chance to press the start button.
As the group convened on the rooftop of the quirky Rhinoceros hotel in Rome for aperitifs, working-class ballads reverberated around the centuries-old structures. Some 200 metres away, the Boss himself lit up Circus Maximus before a record-setting throng of supporters. (The concert was scheduled to start at 19:30, but Springsteen was crowding the microphone by 19:27. What other rock star kicks off his own gig early?)
The following morning brought an introduction to the GranTurismo and the Folgore. In some cases, with some manufacturers, electric vehicles are stand-alone models. But in this new lineup of GranTurismo models, the gas-powered variant and its electrified kin are visually similar. Both versions also bear a strong resemblance to the previous-generation GranTurismo, with Maserati design director Klaus Busse calling this car “an evolutionary step.”
From the outside, there are a handful of obvious differences. The old-school GranTurismo requires maximum airflow for engine cooling, so the front grille features gaping air inlets. Also, as it’s powered by an internal combustion engine, the GranTurismo requires exhaust pipes; the Folgore, on the other hand, has no such requirement. Finally, the wheel designs for the two cars are different, with the EV sporting more futuristic lightweight alloys.
The introductions complete, it was time to select a key fob bearing the legendary trident insignia and venture out into Roman traffic. This opening stint, a blast toward the coastal town of Civitavecchia before a turn north, offered the first chance to drive the Folgore—and these first impressions resonated strongly.
The car is powered by three 300-kilowatt motors, one at the front axle, the other two at the back. The combined output of this all-electric powertrain sees some 750 horsepower sent to the wheels, making the GranTurismo Folgore one of the most powerful EVs on the market.
Behind the wheel, there are four drive modes to choose from. These modes help the Maserati either achieve its maximum range of some 450 kilometres or help it break any number of local laws. The modes are selected through a dial mounted on the wheel, with each mode triggering a different look for the 12.3-inch digital instrument panel.
The most aggressive mode, Corsa, provides access to the total power from all three motors, automatically lowers the air suspension system, stiffens the electronically controlled dampers, and gives the driver more leeway before the traction and stability control systems kick in.
In this mode, the Folgore streaked past the traffic on the autostrada and hurtled toward Tuscany. The car has the capacity to hit 100 km/h in just 2.7 seconds, roughly half a second quicker than its gas-powered counterpart. The electrified Italian also has the higher top speed, clocking in at a stunning 325 km/h compared to 320.
After peeling off the autostrada toward the heart of Tuscany, other compelling aspects of the GranTurismo Folgore revealed themselves.
Unlike most modern EVs, which feature a skateboard-style battery pack, the batteries in the Maserati form a T-shape. This design reduces the height of the pack itself and places the weight at the corners, giving the Folgore a very low centre of gravity and great balance overall. These attributes help the car handle extremely well, a characteristic that’s boosted further by a sophisticated system that sends more torque to the outside wheels during cornering.
Speaking of the battery, it’s right in line with the top-performing EVs of the day. The 800-volt architecture means faster recharging times, with up to 100 kilometres of range added in just five minutes and 160 kilometres after 10 minutes. While the recharging network in southern Europe is not as advanced as in some other parts of the world, at no time did the dreaded range anxiety rear its ugly head.
In fact, as the small group powered along the secondary roads toward the epic Monteverdi Resort, there was no need to switch back to the range-extending mode. There was plenty left in the proverbial tank, a number of twisty roads yet to experience, the floral air coursing through the windows, and many courses remained on this particular Italian tasting menu.