Thursday, February 19, 2015

The King of Roads (Part 1)

Chrysler was the king of roads in 1960's, when petrol used to cost a couple of cents per gallon, and every self-respecting granny owned a car with engine capacity of at least 5 liters. And although those days are long gone, the 300C is still cool. The most powerful version of the 300C is the SRT8. Carrying a 435 HP V8 engine, it's in no way inferior to its ancestors.

But (unfortunately) the car in our test is a modest version with a 193HP 2.7L engine and a 4-speed automatic gearbox. Instead, the price of this version might be quite affordable for  some motorists. This car basically challenges big, not overly advanced Japanese sedans and not very expensive representatives of business class.
What can it offer in addition to undeniable charisma?
Our packaging is overage for the 300C. The car has xenon headlights, dual-zone climate control, leather interior, powered steering and seats. Moreover, all this is included in the base version. Extra payment must be made for a sunroof, navigation, heated rear seats, more advanced "Kicker" stereo system with 12 speakers a subwoofer and for an electronically controlled gas pedal.

The ample room available in the interior makes you feel as comfortable as in your living-room. You can choose any kind of sitting position behind the wheel, especially if you've paid extra for the electronically controlled gas pedal. No matter if it's a dwarf or the Hulk- both of them will  feel equally comfortable. And although the steering wheel is obviously too big, it doesn't embarrass at all. Quite the contrary; this huge wheel reinforces the impression of driving a huge road cruiser. The field of view from the soft “captain chairs”  through the small windscreen, which emphasizes the brutal appearance of the 300C, leaves much to be desired. It really annoys, when parking the car. The good news is that the car has a parktronic system which, by the way, is the same as on the E-Class Mercedes. In general, I couldn't find anything in the interior to carp about. The trimming is also nice- it won't get to the level of Mercedes, but the 300C was never meant to.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Maserati GranTurismo (Part 2)

But in that story, the result was slightly disappointing- the sedan lost too much physicality. In our case, although the automatic transmission has changed the character of the GranTurismo, it has retained its fighting spirits and sporting qualities. This 6-speed beast is capable of switching even at highest revs- up to 7200 rpm! Very few automatic gearboxes are able to perform such astonishing feats.

It might be slightly inferior to some more sophisticated robotic gearboxes, but it will never harm the driver, which, in this case, is much more important. Moreover, it is more reliable and can adapt itself  to the driving style of the driver at low and medium revs, at the same time keeping constant its actions at high revs.
The ZF gearbox can be used manually (by means of gear shift underwheel petals), as well as automatically offering the driver 2 sub-options: "Auto Sport" or "Auto Ice". The latter, by the way, is very useful when driving on slippery roads. Both of the suboptions are intuitively understandable and act just as you expect.
I must confess, after the installation of the new engine, the rear-drive (and the driver too) has to cope with  the capacity of 440 HP, which is achieved at 7000 rpm.

As compared with the previous 4.2 L GranTurismo, the increase is by 35 HP. The maximal torque is also increased- this V8 engine produces 490 N m already at 4750 rpm. This power is enough to provide decent acceleration for a sport car. It took me 5.3 seconds to accelerate the car 0-100 km/h (the factory data is 5 seconds) and 13.5 seconds to pass the distance of 400 meters. The maximal speed of this coupe is 295 km/h. I didn't dare to check it out. It would have been a reckless challenge to do so on Armenian roads or tracks. I am willing to take it on trust, however.

I'd like to separately underline the work of the suspension. Taking into account the terrible quality of Armenian roads and the low ground clearance, the car never touched the road ( I was very lucky not to damage a 150.000-dollar-car).  The Skyhook system, which constantly controls the shock absorbers, significantly improves the comfort level, at the same time, maintaining the necessary, but acceptable rigidity.
The main advantage of this coupe is the equal pleasure both from fast and slow driving. All the reactions are predictable and very clear. The gas pedal is very responsive, and therefore should be treated delicately. The engine sound of the GranTurismo is simply magnificent- it can be compared with that of Ferrari and, may be, the German AMG. During the ride, I really enjoyed that Italian Symphony of power and immense energy.
In general, this coupe really made a very strong impression. Leaving behind the new Quattroporte, the GranTurismo is just another huge step forward, which brought glory to the Italian legendary car brand.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Maserati GranTurismo (Part 1)

The seductiveness of this car is so strong that you'd better not look at it too long, otherwise you might sink into complete apathy towards any other vehicles on this planet. At least, while you are next to the GranTurismo, the probability of this event is as great as your desire to try it out on a deserted highway, like the guy on a glossy advertisement.

There is an impression as if someone hid a special emitter in the car that makes you and others to look only at it. I think the appearance of such cars is like a breath of fresh air in the world of automotive industry. It's great that there are still heroes who are able to convey to buyers that fire from the past that has captured the hearts and minds of the designers leading them eventually to create something truly immortal... something that's called the car, which, in fact,  gradually turns into a banal means of transportation. Undoubtedly, the Maserati GranTurismo is one of the brightest representatives in the automotive world. This car allows you to divide the cast of sports cars into two camps proving that the combination of sport and comfort at this highest level is still achievable.

It should be noted that the design of the GranTurismo was created by the Studio Pininfarina, whereas that of the well-known Quattroporte by the colleagues from Bertone. It's not necessary to write much about the design of this car, because it's an embodiment of perfection and I believe everyone is able to do justice to it.
Just note that from any angle you can see something new and special. In front, there are the slanting xenon headlights and the huge air intake with an impressive trident.

The magnificent silhouette of the car is emphasized by the quaintly designed wheel disks, as well as the traditional small air-ducts on the wings. The exhaust pipes framed with a black diffuser alongside with the beautiful taillights give the rear part of the car quite a solid appearance. Even the external data can solely provide a steady demand for such coupes on the market- the sophisticated connoisseurs of real cars are ready to vote for them with their finances. These people are not willing to put up with modern trends of creating electric "trolleys" and various pseudo-hybrids. They earn enough money to afford the best of the best.
It's worth mentioning that since the release of the GranTurismo S Automatic, it's been much easier for this coupe to fulfill its mission, because the original version of the GranTurismo was not so powerful- it was equipped with a smaller engine and was destitute of some innovative features. This story is somehow similar to that of the Quattroporte, when the engineers screwed automatic transmission thereto.