First Drive: 2011 Maserati GranTurismo MC

April 28, 2011
The Maserati GranTurismo is big, wide, and heavy. Even in its new, racy MC guise, it is more of a GT than a hard-core sports car. But under the direction of former Formula 1 racing driver Ivan Capelli, the Maserati Corse division has created an intriguing evolution of the GranTurismo that is surprisingly easy to live with.
1106 Maserati Granturismo Rear View
To qualify for the MC badge, the GranTurismo had to shed weight and gain power. An 11-hp increase sounds like cheap chip tuning, but since this is a normally aspirated V-8, the engineers had to reduce friction, weight, and thermodynamic losses. While the maximum power output climbs to 444 hp at 7000 rpm, the torque peak rises by 7 lb-ft to 376 lb-ft at 4750 rpm. Weight has dropped by about 100 pounds due to the removal of sound-deadening materials and other luxuries. Thanks to excellent dynamic weight distribution, the MC needs neither a launch-control program nor traction control to translate all the torque into traction.
Rolling through Barcelona, Spain, the blue coupe catered primarily to eyes and ears. Eyes because the modified shape turns even more heads than usual thanks to fender flares, sill extensions, a deck-lid spoiler, a blacked-out rear apron, and a front air deflector. Ears because the two large-diameter tailpipes play a spine-tingling tune above 4000 rpm in Sport mode and throughout the entire rev range in Race. On the autovia heading toward Montserrat, only the radar traps prevented us from testing the GranTurismo's aerodynamic stability, which reportedly has improved dramatically.
Further enhancing the ground-effect talents are a lower ride height, stiffer springs, tauter fixed-rate dampers, and thicker antiroll bars, as well as minor camber and caster changes. Instead of the Pirelli PZeros fitted to lesser GranTurismos, the MC rolls on even stickier and wider Corsa footwear that boasts a shaved asymmetrical tread pattern.
1106 Maserati Granturismo Seat
With the electronics set to Race mode, the MC feels like a boxer flexing his muscles. While lesser GranTurismos are talented wafters and creamy gliders, the MC is a sharper tool made for precise driving with accurately timed inputs and prompt reflexes. The MC isn't interested in grand gestures, be they late corrections from the driver or excessive attitudes of the car. Instead, it wants to be kept on a shorter leash, calling for brief and concise orders, a smart driving line, and a rhythm that does justice to the potential of the suspension, brakes, steering, and drivetrain.
At about $140,000, the MC is significantly more expensive than the base GranTurismo. By itself, the difference in performance alone makes it hard to justify the $22,000 premium, but there's much more to this hard-edged Maserati than numbers. What this car does really well is celebrate the sense of the occasion. It is a purer, leaner, and sharper piece. The reprogrammed genes don't shine that brightly in a straight line, but they transform the handling and create the ability to throw the lever inside your head into competition mode whenever you choose. It is more involving, more rewarding, and more complete overall. And because of its more focused mission, its role in the history books will always be more meaningful.


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2011 Maserati GranTurismo

Base RWD 2-Dr Coupe V8
starting at (MSRP)
4.2L V8
Fuel Economy
13 City 20 Hwy
2011 Maserati GranTurismo