If you're looking for a distinctive, uncommon, wickedly quick, and dare we say affordable luxury Grand Tourer, you might want to consider the Maserati Gran Turismo MC.
The vehicle is crafted by Maserati Corse (hence, the MC), the division of the automaker that builds its competition cars, similar to the efforts of AMG and M-Sport for Mercedes-Benz and BMW, respectively.
Overseas, MC offers a hard-edged, road-going GT known as the MC Stradale. The GranTurismo MC, which will only be available here in North America, shares the European Stradale's 444-horsepower V8 and MC Shift controlled ZF 6-speed. It also benefits from the Stradale's intuitive handling and tuned aerodynamics. But inside, it's more comfortable and luxurious, reflecting the way Americans want their sports cars.
If looks could kill, this bold Pininfarina-designed coupe is a murderer. From its bigger, bolder grille with a proud Maserati Trident, sharply chiseled shape, front and rear air extractors, sport side rocker panels, ripping exhaust note and 185-mph top speed, this slick GT evokes the legendary Maserati 5000 GT's of the '50s — big, fast expensive cars that captivated royalty and wealthy industrialists alike.
But can it compete?
The 444-horsepower GranTurismo MC coupe is a step up from 433-horse GranTurismo S coupe. They are accompanied by the 433-horse GranTurismo Convertible and the 444-horsepower GranTurismo Sport, the first four-seater convertibles in the company's history. A racier version of Maserati's luxurious cabriolet, The Granturismo Sport is enhanced with a standard Sport Skyhook suspension, MC Shift automatic 6-speed transmission with rev-matched downshifting, a sport exhaust system and exterior upgrades that improve its already excellent aerodynamics.
On the MC coupe, the entire MC aero package: side skirts, fins in the rear bumper, aero extensions and the rear spoiler, can be ordered in carbon fiber. A new color, Rosso Trionfale, was inspired by the bright red hues on '50s-era racing Maseratis.
Under the Hood
The front, mid-mounted, four-cam, 32-valve, 4.7-liter V8 develops 444 horsepower (up 11 for 2012). Torque is 376 lbs-ft (up 15), with a 6 percent increase in fuel economy. A comprehensive friction reduction program makes the engine more responsive and helps it run more efficiently. The V8's high-friction reciprocating parts benefit from a "diamond-like coating" that reduces friction on all the valve-train components. The twin center-outlet exhaust system has free-flowing by-pass valves, is lighter than its predecessor and is unique to the MC. The V8 is linked to a quick-shifting ZF six-speed MC Autoshift transmission with perfectly-placed paddle shifters.
Coil-over, single rate fully independent suspension is standard on the MC with electronically adaptive Skyhook suspension as an option. Ventilated disc brakes in each corner can be ordered with several choices of caliper colors. 20-inch Silver Astro Design wheels are standard (Graphite is optional) and there are several wheel options. Due to its special front air dam design, no front parking sensors are available on the MC. Weight distribution is a nearly perfect 49/51 Front/Rear. Tires are Pirelli PZero in 245/35 ZR20 Front and 285/35 ZR20 Rear. They are designed for optimal road and track performance, in wet or dry conditions. The MSP dynamic stability control system senses skidding and reacts in milliseconds to ensure grip.
The Italians know something about interior comfort. Firmly supportive (but not-too-hard) bucket seats, finished in beautiful leather, perfectly stitched (contrast color stitching is optional) and finished, invite your attention. Leather and optional carbon fiber trim abound. An optional Alcantera headliner can be ordered, if desired, as can 'drilled" leather, dual interior leather colors and special carpets. Everywhere you look inside, the level of attention to detail is apparent. Aluminum sport pedals are standard. The instruments are large, easy-to-read, and the controls are intuitive. You'll want to be sitting here.
On the Road
We drove the GranTurismo MC and the Convertible Sport at a Maserati-sponsored ride and drive near Del Mar, Calif., and came away very impressed. On twisty back roads, the MC hunkered down and carved canyons with aplomb. Zero to 60 mph sprints took just 4.8 exhilarating seconds. Minimal body roll, instant throttle response, crisp steering with perfect on-center feel, that glorious exhaust note , amplified by the paddle-shifted transmission's timely downshifts, and firmly supportive seats, made us long for a racetrack to further test this Maser's capabilities without losing our license.
Improved aerodynamics raise front down-force 25 percent at 125-mph, while rear down-force is up 50 percent. Even with its stiff, non-adaptive suspension, the MC's ride is firm but not racecar rock-hard. Carve up a few canyons, as we did North of San Diego and this baby really boogies.
We didn't get close to the 185-mph top end, but we have no doubt the Maser would be a delight at that velocity.
Right for You?
Maserati cars compete in a rarified atmosphere, but the Granturismo MC, which runs s cool $139,000, is priced well below Ferrari and Bentley coupes as well as the Mercedes-Benz SLR. It's comparably priced with the Mercedes-Benz SL63AMG, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage and the Porsche 911 Turbo/911 Turbo S. That's some stiff competition.
Rating: 9.5 (out of 10)
- Powerful V8
- Brilliant exhaust note
- Head-turning styling
- Not available with a manual transmission
- Rather small trunk
- Cramped rear seating