It was in Venice, almost two hundred kms from Modena, the home of Maserati, that I watched Verdi’s masterpiece La Traviata. Driving the Maserati GranCabrio MC Sportline through Dubai airport tunnel, it appeared as though the entire repertoire of emotions in that opera had been captured by its sound. It unravels in various notes, pitches and expressions. Even as you drive, in the rear end of this acoustic laboratory, experiments appear to be rife: you hear hums, groans and roars at all times.
UPSIDE: Stunning looks, Captivating exhaust sounds, Quick acceleration with abundant torque, Improved rear legroom, Delightful handling
FLIPSIDE: Firm drive, Stingy boot, Cornering body lean, For aficionados only
The Price: AED 595,000 onwards. Test version: AED 704,000 – 3 years unlimited mileage warranty, 3 years or 60,000 km service contract
The Specs: 4.7L 90° V8 / 460 HP / 520 Nm /ZF 6-speed automatic gearbox – MC Auto Shift / Top Speed 289 kmph / Acceleration 0-100kmph in 4.9s / MC Launch Strategy
This is not a car that leaps forward at your nudge or turns around your little finger. Nothing of that sort describes the convertible counterpart of the Maserati MC Stradale. Rather, it is a self-conscious car where every input is purposeful and every movement is deliberate.
Despite being 1905 kg heavy, it seem to be perfectly weighted from steering to the entire chassis. It responds to your command conveyed through your sure grip on the Blu Profondita steering wheel, flattened at the top and bottom.
Whether it’s the best car Maserati ever made is probably arguable. But sweeping down flyovers or moving in and out of corners, the car is extremely steady and carves a perfect arc. Occasionally, you might come across an unmistakable under-steer while taking corners or bends at high speeds. High speed handling of curves could take a bit of experience even for seasoned drivers just as you expect of a track car – pumping in the revs and balancing the output with the weight of the car pressing against you each time is quite a feat, but a very rewarding one. While, cruising it helps that you can actually rest your left arm on the window line, nicely padded and nicely positioned.
Plainly, due to its unique character, the Maserati GranCabrio MC doesn’t compete with rivals that satisfy instantly with quick take offs and an astounding G force. Now, with 520 Newton metres of torque at 4750 revs per minute, the 460 hp of output from the 4.7 litre engine is something you learn to manage. And more than instant gratification, its six speed ZF transmission hands it out through familiarity, a rising learning curve that culminates in you becoming one with your machine. The 0 to 100 came up in 5.1 seconds without launch control. With the top down, it took an extra second.
The Maserati GranCabrio MC comes with paddle shifts which are nicely large and lifted from the MC Stradale’s track experience. There are five modes: manual normal, manual sport, auto normal, auto sport and the fuel-efficient ICE. The last is good to save fuel but switching on the Auto Sport marks a pronounced change in the revs and the roar, and facilitates super-fast gear shifting in 100ms. Braking comes with a short burst of blips with the rpm levels running up the tacho, in aid of the braking. Developed by Brembo, the brakes are extremely efficient with 100 to standstill in 35 metres.
Breaking away from the usual red of sport, my test car looked ethereal in its white sheet metal. The beautifully crafted, ascending window line with just thin rims separating it from the quarter glass is set to suit high speed action. Even with the roof up, you enjoy all-round vision.
The Maserati GranCabrio MC is 48mm longer than the GranCabrio Sport and so finely detailed with embellishments that it can’t escape your first glance that the typical Maserati fins on the sides as well as the air dams in the front and rear are chrome meshed. The dual cones of the headlamps have been blackened out, the front is a replica of the concave grille in the Maserati Stradale and at the rear, the dual exhausts have moved closer towards the centre.
The two air vents on top of the hood are advanced technology cooling the 4.7 litre engine but also serve as the mark of the machine. The 20 inch wheels with the alloy rims coupled with the steel and aluminium discs and the blue brake pads signatured Maserati are carved out, see through and gives the car an unnaturally sporty beauty.
Cabin and Controls
Inside, the honeycombed motive that marks the neckpiece of the front seats takes after the Maserati front grille in chrome. A large dose of carbon fibre marks the inserts and trims of the cabin as well as the front seatbacks. The many buttons on the centre console gives it a cockpit feel but makes it slightly cumbersome to get around the car’s functions.
The leather seats in a regal blue is rarely seen and matches the indigo tonneau that blankets the top. This is one convertible that looks fab, top down or up.
Surprisingly, this is one sports car the family can afford to own in terms of convenience. 20 mm more legroom than the GranCabrio means space for adults to squeeze in and children to sit comfortably in the rear space. My son was happy back there. But there’s not much space left in the boot after the the roof retires to its store.
The sound of the engine and exhaust drowns any other. So, stuck in a traffic jam, I finally got to appreciate how good the Bose system was, truly audiophile quality as you would expect in an Italian cabin.
The 2 + 2 cabin has just enough space but what still makes it questionable as a family car is the firm ride quality itself. This is a track car, obliging a cameo in its road version.
The essential Maserati GranCabrio MC
To own a Maserati GranCabrio MC, you have to be both a rich and a serious enthusiast of race cars. The Maserati GranCabrio starts at 595,000 dirhams; the test car was AED 704,000 with its surfeit of carbon fibre and Poltrona Frau leather.
Something between a moan and a roar, something between a hungry animal and a wounded beast – that’s what sums up the character of the Maserati GranCabrio MC. The ferocity that is generated from it, the nothing to lose attitude, the fighting spirit for survival and an aching for conquests – the bestial voice that I heard in the tunnel is the war-cry of the Maserati GranCabrio MC.
It is not one of those cars that stand in its track with a stone-cold face. Yeah, it slides, it moves, it budges, it does all that but only with the dignity of a race track car and it is up to you to stick to the steering and take it where you want. It sticks to you.
Drive Courtesy: Maserati Middle East
Pictures: Sudeep Koshy