First DriveMaserati is aiming to extend the life of its ageing coupé with new tech, some design tweaks and a rationalised engine range
First DriveThe Maserati GranTurismo Sport competes against more rounded rivals, but offers plenty of compelling Maserati mystique
What is it?
The fastest and most focused production car built by Maserati since the MC12 supercar. The MC Stradale is a GranTurismo S that’s benefited from the attention of the Maserati Corse in-house motorsport department. It’s lighter, more performance-minded and more powerful than the standard car: a GranTurismo ‘GT3’, or the closest thing to it.
By throwing out the sound and vibration insulation and back seats, by fitting carbonfibre racing buckets up front instead of the heavier regular items and by a few other routes, Maserati has taken 110kg out of the kerbweight of the car. This one weighs 1770kg with fluids on board.
Which is still plenty when you consider that Maserati has, by the introduction of some low friction engine internals, only added 10bhp to the output of the 4.7-litre V8 under the bonnet. Max power is now 444bhp, and max torque 376lb ft. The car’s 251bhp per tonne kerb weight is, therefore, sandwiched between that of a BMW M3 (246bhp per tonne) and an Audi R8 4.2 (272bhp per tonne).
You might expect more sheer urge than that for your princely £110k, of course. So is the MC Stradale sufficiently savage to justify its price? And will it ride as fluently in the UK as it seemed to on the continent earlier this year?
What’s it like?
It knows about first impressions, that’s for sure. The not-so-subtle valance extensions front and rear and small carbonfibre bootlid spoiler will seem as nothing the moment you see the purposeful-looking carbon-ceramic brake discs. And then open the door and feast your senses on a cabin decked out in generous helpings of soft alcantara and carbon trim. Maserati may claim that this is a road car, but with four point racing harnesses anchored, behind the lightweight bucket seats, to a half-sized rollcage, it must be hard to convince owners that it wouldn’t be better enjoyed somewhere fast, with plenty of run-off and the odd flag-waving marshal.
Somewhere with sympathetic noise regulations too, really. Crank it over and the brassy growl that the V8 settles into is a long, long way from shy and retiring. Noisier and harder-edged still if you select ‘Sport’ mode, when blips of the throttle seem shrill enough to shatter spectactles at close range.
Bumbling around town, the MC Stradale doesn’t exactly make you comfortable straight away. The turning circle’s respectable and the ride, although a little crashy, could be worse. But the gearbox is far from suitable for stop-start traffic; in ‘Auto’ mode upchanges come quite clumsily, and in ‘Sport’ they tend to thump through the driveline a bit, even when you’re expecting them. The car’s extra sharp throttle response can cause issues during the daily traffic drudgery too, since there’s no creep in the robotised manual transmission.
The MC Stradale’s long distance cruising gait is surprisingly civilised, however. At decent speed and over the smaller, longer-wave lumps and bumps you tend to find on trunk roads and motorways, it rides in fairly absorbent and quiet fashion. The engine’s roar is more muted at low rpm, too. The 17mpg you’ll get out of the car will be more of an issue if you plan on making more than occasional use of it, but for most owners even that kind of thirst will be little more than a passing concern.
And when you’re at a safe enough distance from civilisation to open it up, the MC Stradale certainly proves its worth. Its sheer urge isn’t of the order that forces your hips backward in your seat; the car is fast without having real supercar performance. It doesn’t grip the tarmac like a 911 GT3 RS or Nissan GT-R, either.
But what it has got is feelsome, reassuring steering, a very responsive powertrain and a tender, delightfully communicative chassis that gives you plenty of information of how much grip you’ve got to play with at either axle. There’s a little understeer in that chassis, sure – but not so much that it can’t be driven around.
Getting the best of out the car is a genuinely engrossing task – and one that just about feels acceptable on the public road. That’s ultimately the MC Stradale’s biggest selling point. Because to drive a GT3 RS or a Nissan GT-R to its full potential anywhere on the public road feels about as socially monstrous as taking your eight-year-old to the bookie’s.
Should I buy one?
If you’ve outgrown track days and care more about the finer feelings inspired by a car than its outright capacity to cover ground, sure.
On a circuit, the MC Stradale would make short work of its tyres; wouldn’t be a great deal faster than Lotuses, BMWs or a lot of other performance machinery costing half the price, either. It weighs too much, produces too little power, to be considered alongside the most specialised performance cars you can buy for £110,000.
But that’s not to say the car isn’t a captivating performer elsewhere. On a smooth-surfaced B-road it’s balanced and beguiling, and doesn’t need ridiculous power or pace to deliver its thrills. One for the connoisseur, then.
Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale
Price: £109,995; Top speed: 187mph; 0-62mph: 4.6sec; Economy: 19.5mpg; CO2: 337g/km; Engine: 4691cc, V8, petrol; Power: 444bhp at 7100rpm; Torque: 376lb ft at 4750rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd robotised manual