Maserati Grancabrio: driven

* Stunning looks; alfresco thrills * Doesn't like rough surfaces * On sale now, from £95,630...

Maserati Grancabrio: driven

Photographers always take great delight in telling you that 'a single picture is worth a thousand words'. When a car is as stunning as the Maserati Grancabrio, it's hard to argue. Bite-the-back-of-your-hand beautiful and full of Italian brio, the Pininfarina-designed soft-top is nothing short of a deliciously resolved piece of kinetic art.

One thing the camera can't convey, however, is just how big the Grancabrio really is. Measuring a shade under five metres long and weighing the thick end of two tonnes, it's a truly 'grand' tourer, with a cabin that's as spacious as it is luxurious, providing oodles of leg-, head-and shoulder-room for four adults.

Unfortunately, even with these grandiose dimensions, something has had to give and the short straw is evident the first time you open the bootlid. With so much space demanded by the electric-powered roof and the pop up anti-roll-bars, what's left is just 173 litres of boot space, which is about as accommodating as a motorcycle dispatch rider's top box.

The roof itself is beautifully tailored and triple layered for maximum refinement. Even at high speeds, there's so little wind noise that it's easy to hold a civilised conversation with all your fellow travellers. What's more, the roof can be opened and closed in 28 seconds and at speeds up to 19mph.

A joyous experience

Speed is certainly something you'll never be short of with the Grancabrio. The 434bhp 4.7-litre V8 engine linked to a smooth six-speed automatic gearbox produces tremendous acceleration and near-instant overtaking response in kick-down.

Equally encouragingly, the steering is sweetly weighted and extremely accurate, making it a joy to steer the car precisely through bends.

Pity the brakes aren't as joyous. They could definitely do with a session in the gym, because the Grancabrio feels every kilo of its weight when you ask it to pull up sharply.

On fast, smooth roads the ride is comfortable, but at lower speeds, severe lumps and bumps aren't dealt with so well, causing a hefty bout of the body shakes.

Even so, the last thing you'll be is shaken or stirred when you're cruising in your Grancabrio. Soaking up the sun and basking in the limelight of all those paparazzi flash bulbs, you'll look an absolute picture.

What Car? says

Good to drive; great to look at and be in