Maserati celebrates its centenary this year, and one of its birthday treats for pasta-loving petrolheads is the machine you see here – the 2014 edition of the GranTurismo MC Stradale. First seen at last year’s Geneva Motor Show, the updated coupe gets a touch more power from its naturally aspirated 4.7-litre V8, various go-faster aero bits and a pair of rear seats, so this street-legal Maser racer can now ferry three passengers instead of one. That’ll be three times the fun, then.
But adding those backseats would have resulted in a weight increase, so the car also gets a new carbon fibre bonnet with a central air intake and two smaller rear vents. Besides the weight savings, the bonnet also helps to improve high-speed downforce and engine cooling. It lends the revised MC (Maserati Corse) Stradale a more aggressive mien, too. Styling cues taken from the Trofeo racecar include a deep front splitter and “blacked out” Trident grille, aerodynamically functional side skirts and a pronounced rear lip spoiler. All these elements combine to give the Stradale a sleek, taut silhouette that reeks of Italian couture.If the looks alone cannot convince you to open your chequebook, firing up the 4.7-litre V8 probably can. The sound it produces is pure aural pleasure. All Maserati powerplants sound good, but the exhaust bark from this model is great. It makes music like Pavarotti – listen and be convinced. There’s more muscle, too, with 460bhp (up from 450bhp) and 520Nm (up from 510Nm) “under” your right foot. The muscular Maser is even faster now, clocking 4.5 seconds in the century sprint (0.1sec quicker than before) en route to a maximum speed of 303km/h (2km/h higher).
Strangely enough, in this age of double-clutch transmissions, this Maser has stuck to a robotised 6-speed manual gearbox with a dual-plate dry clutch. But it’s up to the task of transmitting the powerful performance, in a suitably brutish manner if required. In race mode, upshifts are performed in a scant 60 milliseconds (F1 cars do it in 50 milliseconds).Maserati has added a cool new function to the transmission – it now has a downshift mode whereby electronics automatically blip the V8 and skip to the correct gear when the driver pulls and holds the carbon fibre “ear-levers” located behind the carbon/leather, flat-bottomed steering wheel. To activate this mode, simply stomp on the alloy brake pedal, then pull and hold the paddles. The big barks as the engine shifts down through the gears is intoxicating.
Best of all, it’s not only the driver who’ll enjoy said soundtrack, because the car’s newly introduced four-seater configuration means a bigger audience on board to appreciate the Maser’s mechanical music. Too bad those rear seats are small and rather cramped. The rest of the handcrafted cabin is businesslike and beautiful, with carbon fibre trim that extends to the seatbacks of the supportive front sports seats.
Compared to the original MC Stradale that we sampled on the Shanghai F1 circuit back in 2011, the latest version exhibits even tighter body control, with no hint of squat during hard acceleration, or dive under hard deceleration. Deceleration duties are handled ably by 6-pot Brembo front callipers that clasp carbon-ceramic discs. This coupe weighs 1700kg, so it isn’t light, but it masks the 1.7 tonnes well when changing direction dramatically. There’s ample grip from the 245/35 front and 295/30 rear Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres, wrapped around forged 20-inch alloy wheels, yet the low-speed ride on the streets of Dubai is surprisingly supple. Circuit addicts who intend to bring this go-faster Maser to the track on a regular basis would be pleased to know that a limited-slip differential is standard equipment.
ENGINE 4691cc, 32-valves, V8
MAX POWER 460bhp at 7000rpm
MAX TORQUE 520Nm at 4750rpm
GEARBOX 6-speed automated manual
0-100KM/H 4.5 seconds
TOP SPEED 303km/h
CONSUMPTION 14.4km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 337g/km
PRICE INCL. COE
$700,000 (after $20k CEVS surcharge)
GRANTURISMO MC STRADALE TWO-SEATER