The Ferrari 599 is almost the perfect all-around GT car. Fast, elegant and prodigious fun, it's just about the perfect all-around package. Except for the hateful looks of envious strangers, the paint stripper thrown on the car at night and half the population flipping you off at lights. Now the last bastion of Ferrari tuning, Novitec, has the answer with its supercharged version of the Maserati GranTurismo S.
While the Prancing Horse brings a near lethal concoction of love, envy and borderline hatred in our fellow man, the Trident atop the Maserati is immune. Rappers and football stars drive the Ferrari; the GranTurismo marks you as a gentleman who has grown out of traffic light drag races and is happy to spend big money on a sporting GT with class oozing from every vent and pore.
There's just no escaping the fact that GranTurismo is an achingly beautiful, elegant car. The S has the splitter at the front and a few aero tweaks, but it's not about the downforce-oriented buttresses and drag coefficients. This is a car that imagination, craft, and love built.
That long bonnet swoops elegantly past the outrageous wheel arches and wicked, glimmering eyes that pass for lights into that deep and bulbous front end. Then there's that sculpted rear that you could sit and stare at all day. Novitec knew that only a few subtle tweaks like an additional lip spoiler, a carbon rear lip spoiler and side skirts would do. This isn't a car to throw a big wing on.
It's gorgeous, exclusive, elegant and it seats four, properly. And inside it's beautiful, more practical than any Ferrari and more special than anything Germany can offer, with lavish Alcantara trim, a sporting look and a businessman's brain. It's a classy, all-weather, everyday supercar. But it wasn't-a supercar that is, because it was never quite fast enough.
Even the S version that comes with the Alfa Romeo 8C's 4.7-liter V8 has just 440 hp to play with, which is a lot, but then it's still noticeably lacking in the trousers department when you compare it with the 599, and it even falls short of the Aston Martin DB9.
Novitec, though, which has made its name in recent years with monstrously powerful Ferraris and keeps Novitec Tridente as a separate entity from the more well-known Novitec Rosso, saw an opportunity to boost the power with their stock-in-trade supercharger kits. Of course this, like the others, is tailored to the car, and unlike the bi-compressor kits strapped to the engines of the Ferrari 430 and 599, just one was sufficient for this V8. That still gets the requisite 600 hp and 433 lb-ft and keeps the price down to a near-reasonable €23,000 in European money, and just look at the perfect layout of the engine bay. It was destined to be this way.
A new water-to-air intercooler, intake system and larger injectors, as well as new software mapping, is all part of the package. But in a relative rarity in the tuning world, Novitec left the exhaust completely standard, which is explained as soon as you turn the key.
Because the GranTurismo S is one of the finest sounding machines on this Earth, deep, bass-rich, spectacular. There was no aftermarket exhaust that could improve upon perfection. With the Sport button pressed and the valves locked open, this is V8 music at its very best. The rumbling V8 hardens to a soulful flat bark higher in the rev range and you can feel every piston giving its all. The supercharger whine comes in late on, but really this is all about the guttural V8 sound and outside of an Aston Martin V12 it's hard to think of a better sounding engine in this world. It goes too.
With the help of the S's robotized manual transaxle, which does a passable impression of Ferrari's Superfast F1 box under duress, the GranTurismo S now rockets through the 62-mph mark in 4.5 seconds. It hits 125 mph 10 seconds later and will reportedly run all the way to a top speed of 196 mph. That's a lot quicker than the standard car and that extra shove means it can cruise through bends in a higher gear, riding a wave of torque rather than wringing the engine, but then you'll still push for the redline just because it sounds so downright dirty.
And all the time inside the car it's a refined, relaxed and cultured drive. Yes, Novitec has employed its specifically tuned KW suspension with height-adjustable coilovers and dropped the car 30mm on to NM3 21-inch five-spoke wheels, but inside it's like this is the way it was always meant to be. Novitec worked long and hard to maintain the original character of the car, with a whole heap more power and cornering skills, and the most demanding customers on the planet say that they're doing something right.
Their profound skills show in every twist, turn and pothole as the new GranTurismo S remains a gentleman's car at a hooligan's speed.
It's still not quite a match for the 599 in terms of outright pace and it's true you might just miss that fraction at the apex on occasion. But then Novitec's GranTurismo S is just a slicker all-around package on the road, it's more than fast enough, even with the mods it comes in for less money and you won't have to put up with the world flipping you off at lights.
Instead you'll be a card carrying, top hat wearing gentleman, with 600 hp of pure fury and a genuine supercar under your brogued foot.
4.7-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve. Novitec Tridente supercharger system and software
Six-speed sequential manual
Novitec/KW coilovers, adjustable height and rebound
Peak Power: 600 hp @ 4750 rpm
Peak Torque: 433 lb-ft @ 5400 rpm
0-62 mph: 4.5 sec.
Top Speed: 196 mph