Maserati GranTurismo(s). The Fast Track

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Thursday.  Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale

OK, no more messing around. These days, I’m the big cheese. The main shareholder. The boss’ son. Whatever; I don’t have to do any work, I can just concentrate on speed. And my chosen weapon in this privileged position is the ultimate road-going GranTurismo, the MC Stradale.

I’ll be honest, I’m excited. In my mind, this is a full-on track weapon that I can drive in gleeful ecstasy on the road. I mean, look at it. My new toy is a deep, Blu Mediterraneo-hued sex bomb, with enough go-faster accoutrements on it to justify the full race outfit that I’ve donned only partially for the benefit of the camera. The front end has a more aggressive scooped bumper and splitter combo and the whole affair sits hunkered down on its lightweight 20-inch alloys, just waiting for someone to take it out and spank it. Happy to oblige.

But first I have to get in, which takes slightly longer than usual. The uncomfortable seats found in the rest of the range are finally gone, replaced with carbon fibre buckets and four-point harnesses. This makes it a bit trickier to pop down to the shops, but boy does it make me feel the part. The seats sit in front of a half roll cage where previous GranTurismos had all-but-useless rear seats. The lightweight buckets are part of a serious diet for the Stradale, which has also included the removal of large parts of the sound insulation. The result is a machine 110kg lighter than the S. Power is boosted to 442bhp, and the Cambiocorsa’s robotised manual gearbox remains the cog shifter of choice, which means the 0-100kph sprint is brought down to 4.6 seconds in Strad-only full Race mode.

Maserati GranTurismo crankandpiston-08

Numbers are all well and good, but the on-road experience is what I’m interested in. Have I finally found the ultimate GranTurismo? Well, sort of. The additions succeed superbly in making the Stradale the sharpest tool in the box. Firing up the engine results in more cabin reverberations than before, the sound of that glorious V8 bouncing off the exposed metal cage and soaking into the Alcantara upholstery.

I point the car towards the wonderful Jebel Hafeet mountain road and floor the throttle. The feeling of being pushed back in the seat doesn’t seem much more physical than in the Cambiocorsa, but the surrounding experience makes a much bigger difference. It’s more visceral, with more of the mechanics of motion coming into the cockpit and assaulting the senses. Restrained into the hugging seats, I’m grinning from ear to ear and on the tight rising ribbon of tarmac to the top of the UAE’s tallest mountain the reduction in weight works wonders, all but removing that sluggishness that the other cars have when working that gorgeous sillhouette out of one apex and towards the next. The steering is the sharpest yet, the stiffened chassis the most stable and flat under load. Grip remains immense, but now the back end can come into play with an extra little squeeze of the throttle. It’s quite snappy though; clearly Maserati aren’t targeting the showboating crowd.

And yet, it’s not as hardcore as I hoped. I was really looking forward to a race car for the road, an Italian GT3 RS, but the Stradale isn’t that. It’s a fast tourer posing as a race car, but the driving experience while exhilirating doesn’t deliver what the track-focused appearence suggests. Reflecting on the drive back however, I concluded that the road is the GranTurismo’s most natural home. All the models are too stylish and sophisticated to be abused on a track, which makes the Stradale a little bit too much, too far away from comfort. Maserati’s most beautiful car is, as its name makes apparent, a grand tourer, and I wouldn’t want to cross continents in the Strad. Conversely, I’d find the regular car too numb. What I’d want is comfort and style, with excitement when I want it. I’d want to steal the Stradale’s bucket seats, but for me the Cambiocorsa is the ultimate GranTurismo. I’m off to get a demotion. Don’t wait up.


Full technical specifications on page 5


Categories: Road


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