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2024 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance
FeaturesNew Car Reviews

The 2024 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance is the purveyor of modern luxury muscle

Twenty-five years ago, I bet if you asked the average new car buyer looking for a luxury four-seater what their top choices were, what they’d say would be quite different from today. These days, the general populace seems to lean more and more towards crossovers and full-size SUVs for one reason or another, which is a far cry from two decades back when sedans ruled this space. By that same token, for those who wanted a top-performing, naturally aspirated V8 powertrain with some sporty chassis tuning thrown in, even that wasn’t as particular of an ask as it is today. And it really is quite a particular ask now, because only one brand offers such a thing in the compact (or what we’d call a midsize back then) executive class: The 2024 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance.

The Lexus IS 500 is a rare bird in our modern era. Prevalence of crossovers aside—the Nagoya, Japan brand has plenty of those, too—there is truly nothing else on the market with this flavor of power plant. A quarter-decade back, I’m not sure people would think of Lexus as the last bastion of rear-wheel drive V8 enthusiasm with four doors, but it is. 

And It’s also quite good at it: Here’s why the IS 500 is not only a well-appointed everyday luxury sedan for the price but amply fun to drive as well.

2024 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance
Image credit: Peter Nelson

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Price and specs

Securing the highest spec costs just $65,670. Not bad for potentially the last naturally aspirated V8-powered sedan ever made, that’s also loaded to the gills with amenities. However, if you’re more keen on getting in as cheaply as possible, all it takes is $61,170, including Lexus’ $1,150 delivery fee. By comparison, the 2024 BMW M340i—a ravenously fun sedan in its own right—starts at $59,590, though doesn’t possess as entertaining of an engine.

Base price:$61,170
As-tested price:$63,600
Engine:5.0-liter naturally aspirated V8
Transmission:8-speed automatic
Drivetrain:Rear-wheel drive
Power:472 hp @ 7,100 rpm
Torque:395 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm
Redline:7,100 rpm
Weight:3,891 lbs
0-60 mph:4.4 seconds
MPG:17 city, 25 highway, 20 combined
Observed MPG:19.3 mpg
Fuel capacity:17.4 gallons
Acceleration figures published by Lexus

The base 500 isn’t a bad place to be, either: the F Sport Performance possesses 19-inch Enkei wheels, dual-stacked exhaust pipes (a nod to the IS F and RC F), unique F Sport exterior badging and accouterments, F Sport suspension tuning, and a Torsen limited-slip differential. LED headlights and exterior lighting are present, as is a push button start/stop, an extensive list of tech and safety amenities (more on that later), a comfortable NuLuxe leather interior with a 10-way power adjustable driver seat, Bluetooth, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

Moving up to the F Sport Performance Premium swaps the Enkeis for beautiful 19-inch forged BBS wheels (optional on F Sport Performance), and tacks on a handful of exterior upgrades like upgraded headlights, dark chrome window trim, and some neat/unique paint choices. Inside, it gets a Mark Levinson 17-speaker 1800-watt stereo, plus a handful of finer luxury details mixed in. If it were my money, I’d save a couple grand and do the F Sport Performance with those BBS wheels added on.

Design, interior, and infotainment

As far as modern four-door luxury goes, the Lexus IS 500 is certainly a looker. It’s got an overall muscular shape, particularly in its hips, and my tester’s bright and gorgeous Blue Vector paint is contrasted by dark F Sport exterior trim accents and satin black BBS wheels made for one sharp package. The cherry on top are LED headlights, aggressive front fascia, and staggered wheels wrapped in 235-front and 265-rear Summer rubber—these help it pass the Look Back After Parking Test for sure.

Opening the front driver door reveals a spacious environment filled with clean design and all the airiness. It’s a very pleasant place to be. The soft yet nicely bolstered NuLuxe sport seats are quite comfortable and supportive and possess both heating and cooling. The center console and dash area are nicely appointed with real, physical toggles and buttons, and in spite of some piano black plastic here and there, it all feels very solid to the touch. Dual-zone climate control is standard, as is a big sunroof for increasing airiness even further.

Space-wise, my six-foot-three stature had plenty of leg and headroom, and ingress and egress were easy with its big front doors, though I wish I could’ve telescoped the wheel a tad closer to my torso. Rear seat room was great below the waist, though a little tight for someone of my height.

2024 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance
Image credit: Peter Nelson

With plenty of physical buttons and a very nice, logical layout, Lexus’ infotainment is one of the better systems I’ve operated in recent years. While the love-it-or-hate-it touchpad is still present (personally, I don’t mind it, and it’s far easier to work than Acura’s), the standard eight-inch touchscreen responded quite well to inputs, and Lexus’ software was generally easy to navigate, save for making a few minor customization changes like touchpad sensitivity, as well as connecting Apple CarPlay. Unfortunately, the latter isn’t wireless.

When it comes to advanced driver assistance technology, a lot is standard for the price. Lexus Safety System+ 2.5’s features begin with frontal collision warning, automatic emergency braking, rear cross traffic alert, automatic high beams, as well as pedestrian and bicyclist detection. Additionally, dynamic radar cruise control is in the mix, which operates in a smooth and predictable fashion, and will even stop and crawl along in traffic. Lane tracing assist works generally well, though has some trouble maintaining the center of the lane on the highway, especially if markers are a bit worn.

What’s hot?– Excellent overall power
– Makes an excellent noise
– Great looks
– Solid ride quality
– Confident well-planted handling
– Good steering
– A comfortable and relaxing place to hang out in
2024 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance
Image credit: Peter Nelson

Japan’s manic muscle car in a tidy tuxedo

The main draw for the IS’ 500 designation is its engine: Lexus’ 5.0-liter 2UR-GSE. Producing 472 horsepower and 395 pound-feet of torque, this mighty IS will hit the 60 mph mark from zero in a reported 4.4 seconds. Not bad for a 3,891-pound sedan. Fun fact: It’s the same basic engine found in Lexus’ RC F GT3 race car, just with a few tweaks and displacement bumped up to 5.4 liters. This mighty beast helped Vasser Sullivan Racing win the driver’s, team’s, and manufacturer’s championship in IMSA’s 2023 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD Pro class.

Unlike other modern V8-equipped hardware, the IS 500 is a little down on low-end torque. It’ll move along just fine below 4,000 RPM, but to get the full experience of all five liters, you have to make sure it’s revved out—I doubt most folks in the market would complain about this, though, as it’s an overall smooth engine at any rpm.

2024 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance
Image credit: Peter Nelson

Then, when it comes to any situation that requires wide open throttle, the symphony of induction and exhaust is nothing short of brilliant. While this all-aluminum unit has a faintly lumpy, conventional-sounding V8 burble at idle and lower revs while cruising around town, it perks up nicely in the mid-range and doesn’t stop roaring until its 7,100-rpm redline. An actuator in the intake system opens up around 4,000 rpm to let in even more bass-filled induction roar, too, and it’s a very welcome addition to the overall experience.

It may be a little slow down low in the tachometer, but it more than makes up for it up top. In addition to its beautiful five-liter soundtrack, its linear power curve gets a tad steeper past 4,500 rpm. For reference, it’s like a cross between Ford’s 5.0-liter Coyote and BMW’s legendary 4.0-liter S65—some American flavor in the way it burbles in the low and midrange, yet it spins up quite smoothly and quickly up high like the near-race-level Bavarian creation. Additionally, the torque shove never gets old, so it’s quite difficult to drive with optimal fuel economy in mind.

Image credit: Peter Nelson

F Sport Performance = An F-Lite for the day-to-day grind

When the IS 500 first came out a few years ago, the talk of the town was whether it was the successor to Lexus’ M3 fighter from ten-or-so years ago, the beloved IS F sport sedan. Also known as the luxury sport sedan for folks who don’t want to deal with moody European reliability. Having driven both on very fun SoCal roads, I must affirm that it’s not, but it’s still quite good for what it is.

Think of it as an F-lite: The F Sport Performance’s modus operandi is solid overall handling and steering. 

Around town, Lexus’ adaptive variable dampers’ sportiest Sport S+ mode, the 500 was quite compliant and daily-able. By that same token, its steering was comfortably light and easy to spin around in easy-going day-in, day-out driving. The package dealt with Los Angeles’ roughest surfaces quite well. In fact, I didn’t notice much of a difference between Sport S+ and the supposed-to-be-softer Sport S, although there was some definite softening up in Normal. I could feel its Summer tires’ thinner/harder sidewall over particularly brutal roadway imperfections, but it was still quite solid and well-damped across all modes.

Then, the 500’s eight-speed conventional automatic transmission shifts smoothly and often enough to help offset its thirsty powerplant—no complaints there. Again, top marks for daily-bility.

Then, to bolster its one-car-to-do-it-all appeal further: This thing is so much fun on twisty roads.

2024 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance
Image credit: Peter Nelson

A fun sedan that can dance with the best of ’em

Those aforementioned adaptive dampers are wrapped in double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension that keeps the IS 500 F Sport’s body roll well contained in twisty, mountain-top sweepers. There’s still some lean to it—it’s a big, comfortable sedan, after all—but not to the point of easily upsetting the tires’ contact patch. Grip levels felt ample and hard to shake while sailing this 3,900-pound Japanese sedan through the San Gabriel Mountains’ famous sweepers at speed. The front end was vague, as was turn-in a few degrees off-center. But the steering loaded up nicely off-center in the corners, which, combined with a pretty quick steering ratio, made for an engaging experience. 

People often point to older BMWs and Mercedes as having a certain bank vault feel to them while rolling down the road—the IS 500 is the modern iteration of this, and especially when it comes to staying composed in the twisties.

2024 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance
Image credit: Peter Nelson

Then, if you’re ever in a situation where traction control happens to be off, and you need to make an especially tight U-turn, or you’re inclined to expedite warming up the rear tires with some playful opposite lock through a wide-open intersection, the 500 has you covered. Oversteer is wonderfully controllable thanks to the Torsen limited-slip differential at the rear axle, especially with a committed right foot to dispatch as much of that 395 pound-feet of torque as possible.

Finally, keeping a handle on all that power and grip are two-piece 14-inch front and 12.7-inch rear brake rotors. The initial bite was soft, and they were a bit vague to modulate, though that’s to be expected for something with daily versatility in mind. The pads held up reasonably well at a quick pace in the twisties and only started to overheat and fade after 20 or so minutes of harder driving. But I bet this could be easily resolved with some better aftermarket pads.

2024 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance
Image credit: Peter Nelson
What’s not?– Infotainment can be a tad confusing
– Slightly lacking in low-end torque
– Little communication from the front end in corners at high speed
– Brakes are a little soft and lacking in modulation

A final bastion for V8 sport sedans

In spite of its appealing specs that make for one entertaining and versatile driving experience, it’s still a little surprising that Lexus is the last operation on the block to offer a rear-wheel drive luxury sedan with a revvy and ever-entertaining V8. It’s actually utilized this formula for decades in one way or another, but seems to always be overshadowed by the likes of BMW or Mercedes-Benz, which definitely adds to the appeal.

Good on Lexus for sticking to its guns. 

EVs, PHEVs, and standard hybrids are great, as is lively turbocharged fare, but the versatility and potency of a V8 will always be music to enthusiasts’ ears (pun intended). And with everything else around it, like nicely tuned suspension and solid luxury chops, it’s an especially compelling final iteration. It’s all but certain that another all-motor V8 four-door luxury sedan will never come along, but luckily, the IS 500 F Sport is a solid overall last chapter that’d put a smile on any enthusiasts’ face day in and day out.

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Maserati GranTurismo Trofeo
FeaturesNew Car Reviews

The Maserati GranTurismo Trofeo is a grand tourer on paper but a sports car at heart

As the sun casts its last light on this Maserati’s otherwise subdued metallic coat, I stand starstruck. Half a day spent touring SoCal’s finest roads and towns in the Maserati GranTurismo Trofeo left me imbued with a newfound respect for what a grand touring car can really be. I had always dismissed them as country club shuttles for rickety old rich men (and they still kind of are). But this voluptuous land yacht sitting pretty on the beach makes a case that its breed can be more than just hulking, overpowered pillows, both on its spec sheet and in practice. I’d like to think that’s a good thing.

Not long ago, you knew exactly what a grand tourer was and where the fine line was between it and sports cars. Aston Martin DB9 and DB11. Bentley Continental GT. The last-gen Maserati GranTurismo. The usual suspects. But now? Sports cars have been softened and pumped up with extra cabin space and niceties, while traditional GTs got a little more hardcore. 911s are now nicer than ever. There are AMR versions of Astons with blinding liveries and carbon brakes.

Now we have this: the new-generation Maserati GranTurismo, a tourer poised to be among the most lively and theatric in its class, especially in its racier Trofeo trim. Over five days, including my half-day lap of Circuit De Los Angeles, it was time to see how well its transition to modernity has sharpened this perennial favorite’s blade without dulling its table manners.

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Maserati GranTurismo Trofeo
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

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Price and specs

$229,620. Two-hundred thirty thousand. Yeah, I’ll break that down in a sec. But at least that supercar price tag affords some gnarly supercar tidbits. Most notably, the new-gen GranTurismo ditches that glorious, naturally-aspirated V8 of yesteryear for the MC20 supercar’s 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6, belching out 542 horsepower to all four wheels. The 8-speed automatic is supplied by none other than ZF (and in other news, water is wet) and should help yield some wicked test numbers should a publication get their hands on one for instrumented sciencing. Still, the suspiciously conservative-sounding 3.5-second rip to 60 sounds plenty healthy to me, especially for something packing this much digital screen and dead cow skin within.

Base price:$205,000
As-tested price:$229,620
Engine:3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6
Transmission:8-speed automatic 
Drivetrain:All-wheel drive
Power:542 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
Torque: 479 pound-feet @ 3,000 rpm
Redline:6,500 rpm
Weight: approx. 3,900 to 4,200 pounds
Zero-to-60 mph: approx. 3.5 seconds
¼-mile:approx. 11.6 seconds
MPG: 18 city, 27 highway, 21 combined
Observed MPG:16.7 MPG
Fuel Capacity: 18.5 gallons

GranTurismo Trofeo exterior design

What can I say? It’s a beauty. A stunner. Dropdead gorgeous. It takes the same design language and proportions as the generation it replaces and evolves it for the present day, with a long snout, short deck, and those iconic Maserati porthole vents. Even the shape of the roofline and side windows are nearly identical, and that’s fine by me. Don’t fix what ain’t broke.

Some more prominent evolutions include headlights and taillights that look straight off the exotic MC20, reinforcing Maserati’s current theme of somewhat bulbous headlights and slender taillights. Twin hood vents peer from right behind the border between the front bumper and the hood itself, while physical door handles are replaced with buttons within a recessed hole.

Unless you look at this alongside the tamer Modena, you’d be hardfetched to realize there’s a difference. But alas, the Trofeo rocks a slightly angrier front fascia with more pronounced side intakes, teeny-tiny black sideskirt extensions, and of course, red-outlined Trofeo script over the porthole vents. As an added plus, the aerodynamic refinements drop its drag coefficient from 0.32 to 0.28, all while retaining that silhouette. Part of that is likely attributable to the adjustable air suspension, which can range from proper sports car low to wannabe-crossover high. I’m sure all that adjustability is a good thing.

Maserati GranTurismo Trofeo
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco
What’s hot?– Drives a whole lot smaller than it actually is
– Raucous powertrain delivers near-supercar speed
– Sports car agility and response in most aggressive drive modes
– Everyday livable, even in Sport or Corsa
– Surprising highway fuel economy
– Quick, intuitive touchscreen response

GranTurismo Trofeo pricing breakdown

What’s not a good thing is how its price has inflated well into supercar territory. The base price for the final iterations of the last-gen GranTurismos fell anywhere between $150,000 to over $160,000. The lower-rung, 483-horsepower Modena starts at roughly $175,000. Our higher-performance Trofeo tester started at $205,000 and climbed to $229,620 with options. Good. Freaking. Grief.

The Sport Design Package adds beautifully crafted metal pedals and an aluminum door sill plate for $1,450. The Tech Assistance Package adds a rearview mirror camera and a HUD for $2,600. Comfort Assistance adds ventilated seats and a hands-free trunk for $1,070. Okay, it’s not so egregious thus far. But Maserati’s advanced driving assist suite, with surround cameras, adaptive cruise, and lane centering, not unlike lesser Stellantis products, is a tear-jerking $8,300. Our upgraded wheel package’s 20-inch front and 21-inch rear wheels add $4,500, a “premium alarm system” adds $2,000, and the upgraded Sonus sound system adds $4,000. At least everything else, from the Skyhook adaptive and height-adjustable air suspension, dual-zone climate, powered everything, all-wheel drive, and the Trofeo-exclusive eLSD, comes standard.

To make you feel better, the Maserati still kind of stands as the same value proposition as it always has in the face of rivals. The current Aston Martin DB12 and Bentley Continental GT start somewhere just below $250,000, with both easily able to skyrocket deep into the $300,000s. But then we must acknowledge its peers on the sportier side of the fence. The 911 Turbo S starts at $230,400, while the outgoing Audi R8 V10 Performance started around $161,395. Perhaps the GranTurismo’s closest rivals come in the form of the Mercedes-AMG SL 63 Roadster, which starts at $183,000, or Maserati’s own MC20 supercar, which starts at a little over $210,000.

To be fair, if you were eyeing a new GranTurismo, cross-shopping was never that big of an issue; you were going to buy several of these cars, anyway. But for those who didn’t win the full jackpot at the casino, it’s something to consider.

Maserati GranTurismo Trofeo
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

GranTurismo Trofeo interior tech

Mirroring the Grecale luxury crossover, the GranTurismo boasts an entire cabin that’s posh, cozy, and appreciably easy to acclimate to off the bat. Anyone can get in and become familiarized with it in minutes. As mentioned, our tester featured a whole suite of surround-view cameras that came in handy in tight parking situations, including a rearview camera for the mirror, whose camera is cleverly disguised as a shark fin antenna. You can view your fine Italian surveillance equipment via the sizeable 12-inch touchscreen, which houses wired or wireless CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as the latest generation of Stellantis’ uConnect.

As one would expect, leather is abundant. The seats themselves are pretty much 132% cow and are soft to the touch but not too soft that results in the bolsters not doing their job in sporty driving. It’s a fine piece of in-car furniture that anyone can slide into for a thousand-mile jaunt across continents or a rip in the mountains, made easy by heating that cooks you alive and ventilation seats that actually cool you down instead of letting an asthmatic mouse blow on you. As for the rear seats? Shockingly roomy, with their own cupholders and USB and USB-C charging.

All creature comforts and most vehicle switchgear, including the headlights, are controlled via the 8.8-inch touchscreen saddled just beneath the infotainment system, creating one giant mass of touchscreen. While intimidating at first, you notice all the controls displayed on the screen are logically laid out and fall easily to your touch, with little to no second guesses if you’re looking in the right spot. Such a seamless blend of modernity and elegance seems like a recipe for one hell of a road tripper, as a proper GT should be.

And you’re right.

Yup, it can still be your everyday land yacht

Oh, come on now. No one should’ve ever had any second guesses as to what this car is capable of when the odometer starts climbing. It’s in the car’s name, for crying out loud. The GranTurismo swallows miles with ease, both out on the highway and in dense urban settings. A 250-mile grand tour around SoCal taught me that as I traversed the 5, conquered the 405, and embarked on risky journeys into the heart of LA County’s concrete jungles.

Maserati GranTurismo Trofeo
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Turn the rotary drive mode dial on the steering wheel to Comfort or GT and leave the shocks in their base setting, and you’re off to a world of motoring nirvana, or as close as we can come in 2024. The Sonus sound system is a crystal-clear banger, and the ZF transmission slurs its shifts just enough to iron out the exchange in torque between gears without dampening its acceleration for on-ramps or between traffic lights. The Skyhook air suspension, coupled with the GranTurismo’s boat-like wheelbase, means expansion joints and potholes are rendered mostly negligible. The car’s sporty intentions mean it’s far from perfect, however, and the thin tire sidewalls can transmit some high-frequency impacts. But it’s never harsh, even in Sport. Dare I argue that this car is still everyday-livable in Corsa?

After half a day cannonballing from Malibu’s Marmalade Cafe to El Monte’s Fujiwara Tofu Cafe, the GranTurismo never let me down, not even in the slightest. Fuel economy was remarkable thanks to sky-high overdrive gears and cylinder deactivation. I frequently matched or beat the EPA figures, hitting anywhere between 27 to 29 mpg on the freeway. My 16.7 average came with some fairly aggressive canyon runs, but even that’s still admirable. The long wheelbase wasn’t too problematic when making U-turns and sharp right-handers once in downtown LA.

Maserati GranTurismo Trofeo
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Perhaps my only gripes included camera resolutions that could be better, and larger cupholders would do nicely for the afternoon coffee runs rather than the ones that can barely fit water bottles. There were also some electrical gremlins with my tester, but I’ll save those for the end, as I refuse to believe the customer cars can be that frustrating. Oh, and the length can be a bit too much sometimes. And no, that is not what she said. That is what I said. Although the car drives smaller than it is, you’ll never forget it measures over 16 feet once in a garage or actually attempting to park in a space. Just ask the knick I left on one of the wheels.

Once again, I’m terribly sorry, Maserati.

If it’s any condolences, I will say that although this behemoth of a car drives quite a bit smaller out on the open highway or under the city lights, it absolutely shrinks once you let it loose for some exercise. Which you totally should in this thing.

Maserati GranTurismo Trofeo
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Now an obese BRZ?

Yes. It’s an obese BRZ. A double-thicc FR-S, if you will. A heavy Hachi-Roku, if I must. And I don’t say that as complete hyperbole. Only a little. I knew the GranTurismo would shine cruising down the California coastline. What I didn’t expect was how it annihilates the canyons high above. From the sweepers and switchbacks cascading the hills near Malibu and later onto the Angeles Forest, this (presumably) two-ton hunk of sculpted metal and cowhide never missed a beat.

Leave the dampers in Comfort, Sport, or Corsa. Doesn’t matter. The chassis never gets upset. Leave the drive mode in Sport or turn the wick up to the Trofeo-exclusive Corsa mode if you feel like tangling with deactivated safety nannies. The car still doesn’t care. The car will ensure you’re having a blast. A flick of the drive mode dial, and the GranTurismo clears its throat for a more baritone growl out its four tailpipes, snarling and blatting on rapid-fire upshifts. They’re not PDK quick but don’t expect it from this platform. It’s quick enough. In Auto mode, this raucous ‘Rati is smart enough to choose the right gear 99% of the time. But the real treat is Manual mode, where the oh-so-satisfying metal paddles go from centerpieces on your steering column to playthings with long throws and a satisfyingly tactile click-clack.

Maserati GranTurismo Trofeo
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

The all-wheel-drive system mostly acts with a 30/70 rear bias, deceiving even me into forgetting it’s all-wheel drive at all. Even in the tightest of slow-speed bends like the hairpins of Decker Canyon and Yerba Buena en route to Point Mugu, the actions of the front wheels are mostly invisible. Get a little snarky, and you can even get the ass end to wriggle just a wee bit. The GranTurismo can and will play if prodded hard enough.

The 3.0-liter Nettuno V6, first debuting in the MC20 and making headlines with its trick, F1-derived prechamber ignition, feels every bit of its 542 horsepower. I wouldn’t be surprised if Maserati’s 3.5-second 0-to-60 claim was sandbagged harder than any German car. And despite sporting forced induction, it builds power gradually enough to fool some purists, clamoring for every opportunity to slam into its 6,500 redline. Or I think it’s 7,000. The different shades of red near the end of the tach sort of mesh together. Torque peaks at 3,000 rpm, and power peaks at 6,500 rpm, so just wring it out and let the Nettuno sing its little song to its heart’s content, even if it’s a bit muted. Nothing companies like Akrapovic or Novitec can’t fix.

Steering is sharp and well-weighted, never requiring you to cross arms in the Malibu canyons and doing a decent job at conveying road imperfections or changes in grip. I won’t call it as good as sports cars of old, but it’s as good as some of the absolute best EPAS systems today and has a clear tie to its distant Ferrari cousins. And try as those potholes may, the GranTurismo is unflappable. Left to right to left to right, the GranTurismo turns in with eagerness and spirit, takes a set, and holds its line beautifully, no matter the road, and without a hint of understeer. After rocketing down the straights and leaning onto the resilient, easy-to-modulate steel brakes, you can let the Trofeo cling onto a single pivot and whip itself around a bend.

Props to the Skyhook adaptive air suspension. Props to Goodyear Eagle F1s that measure 265-mm wide up front and 295 out back. Props to the Nettuno being pushed deep behind the front axle. And before you start hypothesizing as to what else could lend to the GranTurismo’s agility, the answer is no. This does not have rear-wheel steering. It’s just that agile. Yeah, I’m as surprised as you are.

Maserati GranTurismo Trofeo
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Impressive for such a massive luxury coupe, isn’t it? Almost reminds me of a pair of sub-3,000-pound Japanese twins. Almost. Okay, not really. The luxury car half of Maserati might never let this be a true sports car. Too insulated. Too big. It could transmit even more feedback and sing with more confidence in its voice. Am I being harsh? Or am I simply remembering that Aston Vantages and Porsche 911s also occupy this realm? But the GranTurismo is a great everyman, even for sporty driving. It’s better than anything I could’ve ever expected merely seeing it parked at the Malibu Country Mart, where rainbow-colored Huracan Technicas and AMG G-Wagons dwarf its road presence.

What’s not?– Needs more l o u d from the exhaust
– Rivals some boats in length
– All-touchscreen center stack may not resonate with some drivers
– Can never be a true sports car when it’s still a luxury tourer
– Painful price tag encroaches on entry-level supercar territory
– Hiccups with electronics range from “whatever” to “what the hell”

Long live Italian automakers

And now here I come, back to the coastal sunset where I started this discussion. As I let the car tick cool by the water at Point Mugu, the sun beaming off the chrome Trident after driving half of my planned grand tour by this point, I had already realized what this car was all about. A night spent racing beneath downtown’s lights and over the LA River towards a certain anime-themed dessert shop, the last possible setting you’d expect to see one of these, rendered my beliefs unshakable.

I can see certain traditionalists not getting to grips with the digital dash or all-touchscreen center stack, no matter how logically arranged or responsive it is. And in traditional Italian fashion, the electronics were… temperamental. Try TPMS sensors or lane centering that intermittently stops working or a key fob that apparently dies after 3,000 miles, leaving you unable to lock the car and then stranding you atop a mountain when you manually lock it. Just Italian things. Things I can only hope are mere duds in my test car that don’t make it into the production customer vehicles.

But all can be (sort of) forgiven when a car is this damn lovable. To hell with its size and weight, for it wears it well. To hell with its rivals, for they lack this car’s charisma.

What we should think when graced with the new GranTurismo is a proper hats off to Maserati engineers for not sullying this fan favorite. It may not be the fastest, most hardcore thing in its price range, nor is it the most prestigious in its class or even just reliable as a car. But it plays the role of a Jack of All Trades performance car remarkably well, eager to put a smile on your face on your favorite asphalt ribbons or traverse a thousand miles of interstate at your command, and it does so in that undeniably lovable way only the Italians know how to pull off.

Poor man’s Ferrari, they say? Hell yeah. Long live Maserati. Long live Italian automakers. Viva L’Italia!

Maserati GranTurismo Trofeo
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

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