Few carmakers can convincingly lay claim to specialising in creating grand tourers quite like Maserati. Part racing car, part long-distance luxury cruiser, the grand tourer has become the sports car of choice for many over the decades offering the perfect balance of performance and practicality.
"We didn't invent Gran Turismo as a format but I don't think there's any other brand that embraces it as much as we do," says Maserati's head of design, Klaus Busse speaking at sundown in Modena's Piazza Roma. "The journey started in 1947 - when Maserati decided to go from racing to the road." Spearheading that move was the marque's first road car - the stunning Pininfarina-designed Maserati A6 1500 in 1947. Since then, Maserati has gone on to produce iconic grand tourers like the Ghibli, Bora, 3200GT and now, the new, all-electric GranTurismo Folgore.
Making its first public appearance on the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship circuit in Rome in April 2022, the new electric GranTurismo prototype was honed and refined over the course of a year until it hit the road in full production form in May 2023. Equipped with three 300kW motors, the GranTurismo Folgore's 92.5 kWh battery and motors can produce close to 900kW (1200 bhp) and deliver 560kW (750bhp) to the front and rear wheels. With that, the GranTurismo Folgore can cover off the 0-100kmph (0-62mph) dash in just 2.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 320kmph (200 mph).
On first approaching the aluminium-bodied car in Piazza Roma, a stone's throw from Maserati's headquarters in Modena, the GranTurismo Folgore's long bonnet, sleek silhouette and classic Maserati proportions reference many of the cars that came before it. Visually, it's not immediately obvious that the Fologore is an EV - only slight visual tweaks including badging behind the front wheels, a unique, more aerodynamic rim design and smoother grille and rear diffuser signal the GranTurismo's electrified underpinnings.
Climbing inside, the spacious cabin has room for four adults, backing up its grand tourer claim, with enough room for a few bags in the boot too. Setting off with the sat nav set for Tuscany, we head out of Modena and onto the A1 autoroute, down past Bologna and up into the Tuscan hills. On the motorway stretches, th3 default GT mode gives you 80% of the car's power, meaning the GranTurismo Folgore is smooth, sharp and almost silent. Previously known for creating raucous V8-engined sportscars and grand tourers, the Folgore should fall firmly outside of Maserati's comfort zone but instead it’s a well-engineered and well-rounded cruiser.
Once off the autoroute we start climbing, seeking out the twisting, switchback roads that lead into the picturesque Tuscan hills. With Sport mode engaged, the car releases 100 per cent of its available power and darts between each apex, handling its 2.2 tonne weight surprisingly well. With the battery aligned in a 'T-bone' shape down the centre of the car and the across the rear axel, the Fologore's weight distribution helps the handling, ensuring it feels balanced and agile.
After an overnight pitstop and charge in the hills above Starteano, Tuscany, we're back on the road the following day with a full battery to drive the remaining 200km (124 miles) to the familiar Formula E host city of Rome. Setting off in the morning light, we flick the mode selector into 'Corsa' to unleash the full force of the Fologore's powertrain. Under heavy acceleration, the Folgore has more in common with a supercar than a four-seat grand tourer yet it's refined in the way it delivers speed. There's no neck-snapping acceleration - instead, it's smooth and relentless as it powers on towards its top speed of 200 mph.
Owing to its electric underpinnings, the Folgore's straight-line speed and stability through the corners is largely down to its three motors and torque vectoring. With the ability to send different amounts of power to each wheel, the Folgore can either stick firmly to the apex or step out playfully depending on the desired driving characteristic.
Back down to a leisurely pace, we edge closer to Rome, approaching from the North. After more than 500km (310 miles) behind the wheel of Maserati's first fully-electric car, the Folgore has shown itself to be a refined grand tourer with a penchant for performance. When it comes to weighing it up against the competition, there's very little out there when it comes to all-electric grand tourers.
Maserati has moved fast to establish itself and, as it did 75 years ago, set the benchmark for other grand tourers to follow. As it stands the closest competitor is fellow Formula E team and sportscar manufacturer Porsche with its remarkable Taycan Turbo S. Side by side, there’s very little that separates when it comes to performance, aside from the Taycan’s sedan styling and slightly more practical four door layout.
For now, it seems the iconic Italian marque and Formula E newcomer is fairing well both on and off the track. With more learnings to take from racing around the world with its Maserati MSG Racing team over the seasons, expect Maserati's future EVs to burn even brighter still.