Maserati First To Put Battery Electric Convertible Into Production

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What’s a person who likes driving a convertible car and an electric car enthusiast supposed to do? There are now 7-passenger SUVs like the Kia EV9 available and lots of 5-passenger SUVs like the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Tesla Model Y. There are battery electric compact SUVs like the Hyundai Kona and battery electric sedans like the Tesla Model 3. Maybe someday, Porsche will make a battery electric version of the Boxster 718 roadster, but that is somewhere in the middle distance, so far as we know. If you want an electric convertible today that is not a retrofitted Jaguar XK-E, you have one choice and one choice only. Open up your wallet and say hello to the Maserati GranCabrio Folgore.

Check out the Maserati website to learn more about this stunning new convertible from one of Italy’s most iconic automakers. “A rush of fresh air, a thunderous roar, and landscaped straight from your imagination,” the company says. 750 horsepower and 995 pound-feet of torque thrust the Maserarti GranCabrio forward with the “right now” kind of authority only an electric powertrain can provide. 60 mph comes up in 2.7 seconds and the car can reach a top speed of 180 mph. There is no other 4-seat, droptop, battery-powered coupe in the world that can offer that kind of performance, which comes to you for the very reasonable price of $205,000.

Think that’s expensive? Consider the first all-electric Ferrari is over half a million dollars and it’s not even a roadster. The new Bugatti Tourbillon costs 20 times more than the Maserati and it offers no open air motoring. The Maserati will put a Bentley Continental GT or Aston DB12 in the shade. Autoblog says this electric Maserati is noticeably more agile and connected to the road than a Bentley Continental GT and is easily on par with the Aston Martin DB12 — putting it in pretty rarified territory with the added benefit of being able to smell the tang of ocean air or the aroma of newly mowed hay as you drive.

The Maserati also carves out more passenger space than the British duo, the gang at Autolog report. It’s a legitimate four-seater with room for two adults in back — assuming the front passengers are willing to move their seats forward a bit — versus a Bentley or Aston Martin whose back seats are glorified parcel shelves. Finally, the Maserati’s vividly realized electric powertrain advances the tech future, while the Bentley and Aston Martin corporate V8s are rooted firmly in the past. So, that’s four objective wins for the Maserati — power and acceleration, sporty handling, interior space, and technology.

Maserati GranCabrio Folgore

Maserati GramCabro
Credit: Maserati

Folgore, for those of you who don’t speak Italian, means “lightning,” a fitting name for this handsome car that is a tribute to a long tradition of superlative automotive designs from Italy’s carrozzeria industry. At any speed, on any road, this GranCabrio is a joy to drive, or to ride shotgun in — fluid and relaxed, but ready to spring into action and fly through the curves along the shore of Lake Maggiore, itself a treasured location north of Milan that runs right up to the Italian border.

The Folgore has three electric motors — one at the front and two at the rear — each rated at 300 kilowatts. In GT mode, the GranCabrio prioritizes sending power to the front wheels for maximum efficiency. In Sport and Corsa modes, the two inboard mounted rear motors add their muscle to the task of propelling the car forward as rapidly as possible. Those three radial motors could generate up to 1,200 horsepower, but are limited to 750 wheel horsepower by total battery capacity. Compact silicon carbide inverters boost rapid energy conversion and performance.

The Maserati 800 volt architecture allows DC charging at up to 270 kilowatts, assuming you can find suitably high-power charging equipment along your chosen route. Maserati provides its customers with a free Level 2 wall box that allows home charging at up to 11 kilowatts. Maserati claims the GranCabrio has a 450-kilometer range based on Europe’s WLPT test cycle, which should equate to a roughly 260 mile range under the EPA’s more realistic estimate, Autoblog says.

The Maserati GramCabrio features a 92.5 kWh battery composed of pouch cells sourced from LG Chem. Rather than being mounted in a typical skateboard with the seats on top, the battery pack is a T-shaped affair that straddles a central spine and spreads underneath the rear seats to allow the car to ride lower to the ground. With more battery mass centered in the car, the Maserati turns in with notable eagerness, and avoids the dull understeer that plagues many EVs as they approach handling limits. Throw in excellent suspension tuning and balance, with a 48/52-percent bias between front and rear, and the Maserati definitely leans toward the sporty end of the GT spectrum, without sacrificing ride quality, according to Autoblog test driver Lawrence Ulrich.

At just over 5,200 pounds, the Maserati GranCabrio electric convertible weighs about 200 fewer pounds than Bentley’s gasoline-powered Continental GT Speed convertible. Some credit goes to a weight saving aluminum chassis with some magnesium pieces. The car’s massive horsepower and torque advantage makes any performance comparison to the Bentley a decidedly lopsided affair. The electric Maserati blasts to 12 mph (200 km/h) in a mere 9.1 seconds, half a second faster than the Porsche Taycan Turbo S coupe and 4.5 seconds quicker than that 650 hp Bentley GT Speed convertible. When put in those terms, the word “speed” as applied to the Bentley may be an inappropriate descriptor.

Maserati GranCabrio
Credit: Maserati

Steering is a high point, Ulrich says, combining excellent feel with the car’s creamy smooth yet exhilarating electric powertrain. That steering is light, connected, and natural, with none of the numb or synthetic on-center feel that mars many EVs. In the highest compliment, the GranCabrio drives like an Italian car should. Ulrich ran out of superlatives to describe the driving experience, claiming the Maserati steers better than a Porsche Taycan and sets a new bar for other EVs to aim for. The only negatives in his report were the somewhat underwhelming materials and controls used in the interior, which he felt came straight from the Stellantis parts bin. The infotainment system’s dual center screen is reminiscent of an oversized flip phone, he says, and there is a poorly deigned haptic slider control for the sound system whose display washes out badly in direct sunlight. Fortunately, a secondary volume control lives behind the steering wheel.

But after picking those nits, Ulrich waxes eloquent about what it is like to drive this car. “On a tight mountain ascent and descent near the Swiss border, the Folgore comes into its own, a near-silent magic carpet gliding through corners at speeds that might make Aladdin wet himself. Grip is appropriately monumental, with Maserati eschewing all season or energy saving rubber for summer Pirelli P Zeroes, 20 inches up front and 21 inches at the rear. Well chosen EV audio sound hums sweetly and avoids gimmickry. Regenerative brakes, operated through Ferrari-esque metal paddles, could use an additional setting for one pedal driving, but their three settings offer a reasonable range between pure coasting and strong deceleration.”

It’s fair to question the Maserati’s stratospheric pricing strategy, Ulrcih says, but you can’t question the Folgore’s performance and technological bona fides, which objectively meet or beat anything in its class. By the way, the Rose Gold Liquid Metal finish featured in these photos — which may remind some readers of the very popular Canyon Coral found on many 1957 Chevrolet Impalas — is $17,500 extra. You can get one in Incognito Gray at no extra charge, but is this really a car you want to drive in incognito mode?

If the topic is electric convertibles, the Maserati GranCabrio is currently the only one available in the world. It is a unique alternative to a Porsche Taycan Turbo S, which retails for $211,000. By that standard, the Maserati may actually be a bargain.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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