While the term 'Gentleman's Racer' might sound like an oxymoron, that's exactly what the MC Stradale is. Maserati's edgiest drive is hardcore yet still perfectly chivalrous around town.
Photos: Joel Tam
When a car maker announces that they will be making a road-legal racecar, everyone sits up and listens. So it was with Maserati, when news of a stripped out, hardcore version of the GranTurismo was underway, the world (myself included) waited in anticipation to see what this manic italian beast was going to be like.
Well here I am, strapped in by a 4-point harness onto light-weight carbon fibre seats, surrounded by racy blue alcantara, shifting gear upon gear in lightning speed (0.06 seconds to be exact), and accelerating into license-revoking speeds. But it's not the speed - blindingly quick it may be - that has got the hair at the back of my neck standing, but rather, it's the glorious symphony of camshafts, pistons and the combustion of compressed air that has got me all fired up!
If you thought that the 'ordinary' Maserati GranTurismo was loud, this car is dialled up to eleven (going on twelve)! The sound of this thing is simply orgasmic, it is a good enough reason to go out and get one. This 'thing', is none other than the Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale.
Let's start with what this car doesn't have. Rear seats for one. The absence of rear seats contribute to the total weight reduction of 110kg, it also makes the MC Stradale the only two-seater in the current Maserati range. The use of carbon fibre (gorgeous) seats also help reduce weight.
Now let's talk about what it has. The MC Stradale generates 10 bhp more from the 4.7-litre V8 engine than the GranTurismo S. Torque is also up with a further 20 Nm improvement at 510 Nm. This allows the car to accelerate from nought to 100 km/h in 4.6 seconds, all the way to a 300 km/h top speed. Let this be official - this car is FAST! Maybe it's the sound that enhances the sense of speed, but the MC Stradale accelerates angrily through every gear and every rev input given.
And it looks quick too, with a new front splitter, sleek bumper with a lower chin, vented bonnet, and even a new rear bumper, the hard-edged nature of the MC Stradale comes through perfectly.
Sexy carbon fibre seats covered is racy blue alcantara leather adorn the interior. It may be a little loud for some, but I felt right at home. The brilliant thing about the seats is how they manage to be comfortable and grippy at the same time.
The 4-point harness and roll-cage are not mandatory, standard issue is the regular 3-point seat belts. But if you're going to buy a car like that, please go for broke and get the full works. The 4-point belts even have the seat belt safety sensor. How cool is that?
With advanced electronics, shift times from the upgraded MC Race Shift electro-actuated transaxle gearbox have been shaved to a mere 60 milliseconds. This is only possible in Race mode, in this mode, the exhaust valves open permanently and the already superb song this car sings becomes a No. 1 billboard chart hit!
On the note of drive modes, three are available, Auto, Sport and Race, the latter is only found in this exceptional car. One thing I wished Race mode did as well was tweak the suspension - the car is just too soft.
Which brings me to my point of this being a gentleman's racer. It's quite amazing how it can be so ferocious, yet it is really stress-free to drive. The trade-off is that the car won't satisfy hot-blooded trackies. Point the car into a corner and there is some apparent roll, but keep the steering input steady and the line will still hold, but the pitching doesn't inspire confidence.
So with a charismatic engine like this, the driver is best left to cruise and mess around with the gears just to hear the snarling symphony of the revs going up and down. Is it worth it?
I say with all my heart, YES! At approx S$500K, this awesome machine undercuts other exotic cars by a few hundred thousand quid! With other racy upgrades like Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes, custom-developed Pirelli tyres, bespoke light-weight 20" wheels as standard, the Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale is a well equipped exotic that looks good, sounds great, goes fast and most importantly, allows the driver to do all this with much ease.