To celebrate a century of the Trident, Maserati unveiled a Centennial Edition version of its most powerful and hoon-tastic road-going model, the MC Stradale. crankandpiston.com thought it time to spend an afternoon mulling over the last 100 years.
|Engine||Power||Torque||0-100kph||Top speed||Weight||Basic price|
|V8, 4691cc||454bhp @ 7000rpm||383lb ft @ 4750rpm||4.5sec||303kph||1800kg (252bhp/ton)||$164,700|
Something doesn’t feel right.
I had expected, as my drive in the Centennial Edition Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale makes its way through the Fujairah-ian mountainscape, to be reciting every cliché in the book concerning the ‘emotion of the experience’. Our test model is after all a special edition tribute to the company’s 100th anniversary, at the base of which is the most savage member of Maserati’s roadcar division on sale today. I should, at the very least, be wistfully thinking about the 3500 GT, the original ’67 Ghibli, Fangio’s 250F, and other members of the Trident’s hall of fame with rose-tinted spectacles accordingly affixed and with whitened knuckles gripping the steering wheel.
But I’m not. Thoughts of the Tipo 61 and even the lunatic MC 12 are pushed aside as I consider whether – bank balance not withstanding – I really would fork over $165K for the GranTurismo MC Stradale Centennial Edition given the grocery list of issues I’m currently having with it.
Rewind a few hours and you find crankandpiston.com under slightly more familiar circumstances, watches and dashboard clocks showing a stupidly early time in the morning, the Stradale suitably positioned against a mountain backdrop for some final glamour shots, and the C&P team deep in discussion on the MC’s ‘look’. Admittedly this doesn’t take too long since we all agree it’s a superb design, albeit one a bit long in the bicuspid: thumb back through the history books to 1914 and Maserati’s first day on the till, and you’ll probably find the GranTurismo’s blueprints on Alfieri’s desk. Fortunately the sands of time have not eroded those curves, the traditional three air vents over the front wheel arch, and the whopping great air intakes in the front bumper. The GranTurismo really does look as good today as it did on its debut in 2007.
For the Centennial Edition though, Maserati has thrown in some 20in Trofeo Design wheels (which really do fill out those bulging wheel arches), carbon fibre wing mirrors, door handles and rear spoiler, and some truly beautiful Rosso Magma paint: dig out your Big Book of Italian Clichés and you’ll find that translates as ‘dark red’. The cabin has been given a similar tributary dust over too, dark re…Rosso Corallo stitching replacing the GT’s traditional white, some carbon fibre trim for good measure, and an obligatory commemorative plaque.
I’d not anticipated that the Centennial’s revised look though would cause a few problems. The sun is still rising, and owing to the three-layer paint, the shade of which supposedly changes colour depending on the light, photographer Hari has spotted another angle to shoot. Then another, and another, and one more still, he simultaneously promising me “just one more shot and we’ll go”. I worry whether they’ll actually be any time left for a drive this afternoon…
But soon an opportunity arises. I’m asked if I could turn the GT around so that it’s facing away from the camera and towards the mountains. “And then after that, we’ll definitely go,” says Hari. “Of course,” quoth I, depositing myself in the driver’s seat, turning the key, pushing ‘1’ (which replaces ‘D’ for some reason), and hastily making a run for it.
Cries for vengeance and shaken fists from my abandoned colleagues pursue me in the carbon fibre-accented wing mirrors. Sorry chaps, needs must. Perhaps now I can get down to some serious driving on the tarmac snaking its way through the mountains, with 100 years of Maserati to keep me company.
Or so I thought. I’m only a few kilometres in, and…something just doesn’t feel right.
My first consternation is with the 4.7-litre V8 under the carbon fibre bonnet. It’s a dated unit, having first made its debut in the GranTurismo Sport in 2008, but in the MC Stradale still packs 454bhp and 383lb ft of torque. It will hit the ton level-pegging with a Porsche Carrera S and still motor on to a 303kph top speed. In short, the MC Stradale can shift.
It’s the way in which this is done though that flatters to deceive. As the rev needle rises, the Fujairahan landscape whips past at a fantastic lick, without however the aggression the Maserati Corse name would suggest. Don’t think either with the ‘Centennial Edition’ badging comes mechanical updates and a special diet for more lunatic handling. That hefty 1880kg kerb weight remains, and while the MC Stradale is certainly not slow, acceleration is linear at best. Certainly the sense of occasion I’d expected from a 100th anniversary model hasn’t quite hit me yet.
It’s unlikely to do so via the six-speed MC Race Shift gearbox either. A unit essentially borrowed from the Ferrari spare parts bin, the Race Shift performs in much the same vein as Aston Martin’s seven-speed Sportshift III. That is to say, monstrously. Indeed, Maserati recommends its MC Stradale customers leave gearshifts as late as 7000rpm, where the full ‘ker-chunk’ drama of peak horsepower can really be felt. While that may be true on the mountain roads I’m currently exploring, it didn’t prove particularly comfortable through town on the way here, each gear change bringing with it a lurch in momentum as the revs drop and consequently making the drive as comfortable as an attack of measles. For a stripped out track weapon where every last tenth is the goal and ride comfort has no place on the agenda, the Race Shift will no doubt work magnificently. But in the MC’s road going alter ego, complete with air-conditioning, BOSE surround sound and coat hangers fixed to the backrests, it’s misguided.
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