In this range, the 4.2-liter V8 is a virtuoso on song. Strategically placed behind the front axle, the 405-hp engine is mated to a silky six-speed auto gearbox. In addition to the Sport setting, driving modes include Normal (default), Manual (via stick or paddles) and Ice, which locks out first gear and gearchanges take place at a maximum of 3000 rpm.

Although it's perhaps best suited to the open road, where its comfort and long legs are appreciated most, this is a car to drive hard and enjoy for hours on end and never tire. With no electronic speed limiter, stay in the throttle long enough and it will hit a claimed top speed of 177 mph. An acceleration time of zero to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds is also impressive-a wink quicker than the Quattroporte, but shy of the Gran Sport's 4.8-second sprint.

In a milieu where sportiness and luxury go hand and hand, the GranTurismo is off to a great start. With a base of $114,650, it's also well positioned price-wise, sandwiched between other class players such as the BMW M6, Mercedes-Benz CL550, Jaguar XKR, and the pricier Aston Martin DB9 and Bentley Continental GT. With 2007's production already sold out and only a mere 1400 examples set for '08, the Maserati GT also brings a high level of exclusivity. Its 'true' two-plus-two seating, exquisite Italian styling and well-rounded performance make it all the more irresistible.

2008 Maserati Granturismo
*Layout
Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive

*Engine
4.2-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve

*Transmission
Six-speed automatic w/Manumatic shifting

*Suspension
Front/rear double wishbone

*Brakes
13-in. front/rear disc, four-piston Brembo

*Dimensions
Length x Width x Height (in.): 192.2x72.7x53.3
Wheelbase: 115.8 in Curb weight: 4145 lb

*Performance
Peak Power: 405 hp @ 7100 rpmPeak Torque: 339 lb-ft @ 4750 rpm 0-60 mph 5.1 sec.Top Speed: 177 mphFuel Economy: 11city/16 hwy

*Why we love it:
Italian styling, luxurious/comfortable 2+2 cabin, engine, handling

*Why we don't:
Hefty curb weight, few on-board electronics, languid out of the gate

The price tag: $114,650

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