Maserati has taken 110kg out of the Maserati Granturismo S to create the racing-inspired MC Stradale. But although the optional roll cage, significant weight reduction, more powerful engine and higher price tag seemingly puts the MC Stradale on par with the Porsche 911 GT3, Maserati is adamant that its new stripped-out coupe is still a comfortable, everyday car. Read on for CAR's first drive review of the new Maserati MC Stradale to see if the claims are true.
The new Maserati Granturismo MC Stradale certainly looks like it means business...
The new Maserati deserves full marks for street cred alone. Just look at the matt black 20in alloys, ground-hugging bad boy front splitter, go-faster flares and bulges, additional air intakes and massive decals – including an optional stylised trident that covers almost the entire roof.
It also earns top score for cabin ambience, thanks to lightweight body-shaping bucket seats, a four -oint shoulder harness, a partial roll cage dislodging the rear seats, wall-to-wall Alcantara and carbonfibre trim.
One could even award a bonus point for the soundtrack. Listen to the dense V8 hum in standard mode, the impatient rasp in Sport mode, and the howl-and-roar in Race, all the way from idle speed grumble to a game-over yell at 7500rpm.
But how does the MC Stradale score for handling and road-holding, for ride comfort and stability, for driver involvement and overall desirability? To find out, we headed north from Barcelona to the oads through the Manresa mountain range.
Driving the Granturismo MC Stradale
Through Barcelona, the big coupe catered primarily for eyes and ears. Eyes because the modified shape turns even more heads thanks to fender flares, sill extensions, and a bootlid spoiler. Ears because the two large-diameter tailpipes play a spine-tingling tune above 4000rpm in Sport and throughout the entire rev range in Race.
On the motorway towards Montserrat only the radar traps prevented us from testing the car's improved aerodynamic stability: at 125mph, downforce is up 25% front and 50% rear. Further enhancing the ground-effect talents are a lower ride height (by 10mm and 12mm front and rear respectively), stiffer springs and tauter fixed-rate dampers, thicker anti-roll bars as well as minor camber and castor changes.
After a good hour, we finally leave traffic behind and have the road practically to ourselves. Switch to Race mode, and the MC behaves like a boxer flexing his muscles. The best rev window for the twisties is between 3000 and 6000rpm where the 4.7-litre V8 deploys an addictive mixture of urge and punch.
The electro-actuated gearbox is swift and so easy to operate via the column-mounted paddles, which click through with exactly the right effort and travel. Hold the left paddle down, and the transmission will shift down as many gears as possible, Ferrari 599 GTO-style. The shift times vary from 140ms in Auto, 100ms in Sport to 60ms in Race. How quick is that? Quick enough to rivet your head to the tall seatback, to push dimples into your cheeks, and impose a sheepish grin as you lunge towards the 7500rpm redline time and again.
While lesser GranTurismos are wafters and gliders, the MC is a sharper tool. Thank the serious diet: lightweight seats (-26kg), minimised sound deadening (-25kg), the now standard carbon brakes (-18kg), and the absent rear seats (-16kg). Thus lightened, the MC Stradale wants accurate inputs and lets you know when your sloppy wheelwork is over-driving the chassis. On a circuit, I would deactivate the stability control to further explore the slideability of the mighty Trident, but unless you are as gifted and fearless as Carlos Sainz that's probably not what Spanish B- and C-roads are made for.
At £109,995, the MC Stradale is significantly more expensive than the entry-level Granturismo model. The difference in performance alone makes it hard to justify the 35% premium, but there is much more to this hard-edged Maserati than naked statistics. For a start, it is a purer, leaner and sharper piece of kit. The reprogrammed genes don´t shine that brightly in a straight line, but they transform the handling, allowing you to switch from relaxed cruiser to competition mode whenever you wish. In addition, the MC is a more emotional car. It is more involving, more rewarding, more complete overall.
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