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Triple shock - The Maserati GranTurismo Folgore: Making electric cars Sexy, the Trident way

Maserati GranTurismo Folgore

Maserati has introduced us to the GranTurismo Folgore; a lightning-fast EV with 751 hp, 0-62 mph in 2.7 seconds, and a WLTP range of 283 miles. Could this be the future of the GT car?

Folgore. It's the Italian word for lightning and it's one that we're going to be getting used to reading and hearing thanks to Maserati. The brand which claims to have invented the Grand Tourer class has brought back the GranTurismo - which is Italian for...err...grand tourer - after a brief production hiatus.

You don't need me to tell you that this car is spellbindingly pretty. It has a flowing, long bonnet with air-channel cut-outs and a comically large power dome. There are flared, prominent wheelarches that house 20 and 21" rims in a collection of fabulous designs and a triple air outlet design to be found near the front wheel wells. The wide grille proudly carrying the trident logo is flanked by a pair of LED headlights with a split C-shaped running light and it looks sharp yet elegant to the eye. The roofline slopes gently from its peak into a long bootlid where the side character line, after accentuating the flared rear arches and underscoring the Maserati logo on the C-pillar, comes to meet it in a subtle ducktail spoiler.

The rear brake lights are narrow and pointed which naturally guide the eye back out to the widest point of the car yet below the number plate is a large rear diffuser with no exhaust pipes visible. In fact, look a little closer and you'll see on the left hand side of the rear bumper, something that looks like it's meant to open. Indeed it does but it is not the world's largest fuel flap...technically. It covers the charging socket for this new GT.

Maserati GranTurismo Folgore

Yes, Folgore is the name to denote that a Maserati is electric. It sure sounds a lot better than EQ, e-tron, Recharge or even i, doesn't it? Maserati is back with both a bang and a spark as the revitalised brand is embracing both where we are and where we're going with the new GranTurismo. As such, there are three flavours of GranTurismo to choose from with the Modena and Trofeo getting a 3.0 litre twin-turbocharged V6 as featured in the MC20 supercar.

Power outputs are 483 and 542 hp respectively with a maximum speed of 200 mph in the Trofeo. The V6 model can get from 0-62 mph in just 3.5 seconds and sends its power to the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission. All these stats are very impressive and put the GranTurismo squarely among the fastest four-seat grand touring coupés on sale today like the Aston Martin DB12 and Bentley Continental GT. But the Folgore is the most interesting one to me - as its triple electric motor drivetrain with one motor on the front axle and one for each rear wheel can put out a maximum of 751 hp and catapult the car from rest to 62 mph in 2.7 seconds. That's quicker than an Ariel Atom.

The battery has 83 kWh usable capacity that can return a WLTP range of up to 283 miles - just three miles shy of the Audi RS e-tron GT. With an 800v electrical architecture, rapid charging at up to 270 kW makes it one of the quickest charging EVs on sale today, being able to add 62 miles of range in 5 minutes or go from 20-80% full in just 18 minutes. It seems that electric power really does mean fast in every measurable way for the GranTurismo Folgore.

Maserati GranTurismo Folgore

Maserati GranTurismo Folgore

Performance is always the star of the show with any grand tourer - the car which must have as equally breath-taking a powertrain as its looks, regardless of where that power comes from - but the touring aspect has been carefully considered too. The rear-set passenger cabin has room for four people thanks to some clever packaging for the battery; whilst most EVs have a "skateboard" layout for their batteries with the cabin placed on top, the GranTurismo has a slightly different arrangement, similar to the Mini Electric. The room in the transmission tunnel, under the bonnet and just behind the rear bench which no longer needs to house an engine, gearbox, exhaust, propshaft or differential is home for the T-shaped battery.

Whilst a skateboard chassis would allow for more energy storage, the T-shape battery means that there is no super-high floor or strangely positioned rear seats like in most EVs. Rear passengers have as deep a footwell in the Folgore as they would in a Trofeo. Technology is abundance with a large infotainment screen, a secondary display for air conditioning controls instead of buttons and a digital drivers display. A high-end sound system is available and the car can be equipped with an advanced driver assistance package with radar-guided cruise control, blind spot assist, traffic sign recognition and more to allow the car to take care of the less interesting bits of your grand tour for you.

As important as the stats and styling are, the real challenge for the GranTurismo Folgore is to prove that it still has what it takes to be an engaging drivers car in spite of it having a totally different powertrain to what has been seen in this class of car. The weight comes in at 2,260 kg which means it is as heavy as a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, so a lot of work has gone into making it hide that weight and move like a proper GT rather than a large barge.

Adaptive suspension is standard equipment and can range from its comfort setup in GT Mode to being firmer in Sport Mode or reducing its ride height and maximising stiffness in the track-focussed Corsa Mode.

Maserati GranTurismo Folgore

Maserati GranTurismo Folgore

When tested by Top Gear Magazine, the Folgore was said to feel comfortable, nicely damped but bringing a bit of roll and perceivable movement when cornering. This was described as feeling natural by Ollie Marriage at the wheel of a prototype Folgore on track. CAR Magazine said that the Folgore is "remarkably three-dimensional, with a tenacious front end and entertaining rear. You can take a lot of liberties with corner entry speed and then depending on driving mode, shape the angle of the car on the exit however you like, from neat and tidy to outrageous."

The question that you may be asking yourself now is "Can an EV be engaging to drive?" and I say yes. I've got quite a few miles of brisk electric drives under my belt now and one of the key things for me is having some paddles behind the steering wheel. Not for shifting gears; the Folgore's three electric motors can spin to 17,500 rpm so there is no need for a second or third gear ratio. Paddles for adjusting energy recovery settings on the fly is absolutely essential - being able to quickly cut the regen to a minimum to coast to the next corner, then bring in the motor braking to start to get your speed down and begin to shift the weight of the car is all part of the art of hustling a heavy EV with its weight concentrated in a totally different place to a petrol, diesel or hybrid car.

Smooth is fast with an electric car - regen, turn in gently, get the weight to shift, turn sharply and then let the instant acceleration punch you out of the bend towards the next set of corners. If you try to throw an electric car into a turn it will throw its weight abruptly, so be smooth and get into a flow with it.

Whilst synthesised sounds can be gimmicky and overly artificial, Maserati have created their own sound for the GranTurismo Folgore which apparently has elements of V8 noises worked into it. It rises and falls in intensity with the car's speed and can be a good audible yardstick for how quick you're going in a fast electric car - when done well, I find artificial sound to be crucial to getting settled with driving an electric car quickly.

Maserati GranTurismo Folgore

Maserati GranTurismo Folgore

Another question that may come up is "Can you use 751 hp on the road?" and the answer is, of course yes...just not for very long. In fact, the Folgore's motors make more power than the battery can account for; the three motors each put out just over 400 hp. Three times 400 is 1,200, yes, but the battery can't supply enough power to maintain that. The upshot is that the 751 hp and 1,350 nm (996 lb ft) torque can come from all three motors together, the rear motors on their own in the car's drift mode, or be instantly shuffled between the trio for optimising traction with some clever torque vectoring.

If you found yourself on a long enough straight, runway or Autobahn, the Folgore would keep on accelerating until it reaches 202 mph. The headline 751 hp is available in the Sport and Corsa drive modes whilst GT allows for 80% power...which should still be more than enough.

The GranTurismo Folgore is not a limited-run proof of concept version of a petrol model like the SLS AMG Electric Drive of 2013, but rather a full series production model. It will be sold alongside the two V6-powered options and it's possible to place your order for one now. For a car that looks as spectacular as the GranTurismo Folgore, it certainly has a price tag to match. The car starts from £179,950 and after I spent a few minutes on the configurator, it rose to £221,000. Because it can.

This is a model which currently has no direct competitor, so of course it can be priced however Maserati want it to be priced, but it also signifies a major shift in where the brand positions itself. Maserati now sees itself as a competitor to Bentley and Aston Martin. Consequently, the GranTurismo Folgore won't be alone in the Maserati model range for long. Next up will be the GranCabrio - the car's drop-top sibling which will bring this absurd amount of performance with the option of unlimited headroom.

But that's not the end of it either - the MC20 supercar which has done a lot of work to get you and I to take notice of Maserati is going to have a Folgore variant arriving in 2025, first as a convertible and then as a coupé. If anybody wrote a rule in the "How to make an electric car" cookbook that said GTs and high-performance drivers cars were out of the question, Maserati clearly did the right thing and totally ignored it.

Specs: Maserati GranTurismo Folgore

Powertrain: 3x electric motors, all-wheel drive

Output: 751 hp, 1,350 nm (996 lb ft)

Performance: 0 - 62 mph: 2.7 seconds, top speed: 202 mph

Battery: 83 kWh (usable)

WLTP range: Up to 283 miles

Recharge time: 18 minutes for 20-80% at up to 270 kW

On sale: now

OTR price from: £179,950


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