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2012 Maserati GranTurismo MC - First Drive

Your Maserati does 185

Karl Funke
Nov 9, 2011 SHARE

Gratuitous (and we admit, totally cliché) Joe Walsh reference aside, this Maserati really does do 185 mph, making it the fastest road car in the current range. And it gets there with help from all of 444 hp, giving it the best power-to-weight ratio as well.

Epcp 1112 02 o+2012 maserati gran turismo mc+interior Photo 2/8   |   2012 Maserati GranTurismo MC - First Drive

The MC (MC standing for Maserati Corse) is the latest variation of Maserati’s sleek grand touring machine. Essentially, it takes cues from Maserati’s track-ready GranTurismo MC Trofeo and packages them in a streetgoing vehicle.

Power comes from the standard Ferrari-sourced 4.7-liter V8 as seen in the GranTurismo S Automatic and the four-door Quattroporte variations. Here, the engine’s back end has been uncorked with a new lightweight exhaust system. The 444 horses give the MC an 11-hp advantage over the GranTurismo S. Torque has also increased by 15 lb-ft to a peak of 376, most of which (supposedly 80 percent) is available as early in the rev range as 2500 rpm. And to help your green side rest easy at night—if you have a green side—emissions and overall fuel consumption have actually been reduced.

Epcp 1112 05 o+2012 maserati gran turismo mc+rear seating.jpgepcp 1112 03 o+2012 maserati gran turismo mc+rear seating.jpg Photo 3/8   |   2012 Maserati GranTurismo MC - First Drive

The transmission, called MC Auto Shift in this application, has been programmed to offer quicker shift times—according to the company, a claimed 50 percent improvement in Automatic mode while the Sport button is engaged. There’s also a full Manual mode available that allows the driver complete control over gear selection. With Manual mode selected and the Sport program activated—the latter of which also modulates exhaust bypass valves according to increasing rpm to let the engine note out to full volume—the gearbox will tenaciously hold gears even as engine speeds approach the rev limiter.

Epcp 1112 01 o+2012 maserati gran turismo mc+rear Photo 4/8   |   2012 Maserati GranTurismo MC - First Drive

“If you want to, you can even bang the engine off the rev limiter,” one of the product communications guys told us. And then quickly added: “I’m not saying I want you to do it, but you could if you wanted to.” We resisted repeated, insistent urges to try that out, but it quickly became clear that full Manual mode was indeed entirely willing to hold your chosen gear and wind the engine out all the way to its upper reaches. And with the exhaust opened up at full throttle thanks to the Sport function, it sounds fantastic doing it.

In MC guise, the shark-like GranTurismo also gets a roundly improved aerodynamics package, which includes a vented hood, a new front bumper with an integrated splitter, a redesigned rear bumper, flared front fenders with integrated air outlets, and a rear lip spoiler. According to Maserati’s own testing, downforce has reportedly been increased by 25 and 50 percent at 125 mph, front and rear, respectively.

Epcp 1112 06 o+2012 maserati gran turismo mc+rear seating.jpgepcp 1112 03 o+2012 maserati gran turismo mc+engine.jpg Photo 5/8   |   2012 Maserati GranTurismo MC - First Drive

The MC also gets unique 20-inch flow-formed wheels that shave 10 pounds off the unsprung rotating mass. The chassis is suspended by what’s known as the MC Single-Rate Suspension.Basically, the springs have been stiffened by 8 percent and the front antiroll bar has been enlarged to 25mm. Adaptive suspension damping, what Maserati calls its Skyhook system, is available as an option.

On the road the GT MC makes for a pretty exciting ride—not least because of its slippery good looks and the suitably awesome exhaust note, which flips from a smooth burble to a raucous shriek depending on how you treat the gas pedal. Before the drive Maserati PR was quick to point out that this is above all things a grand touring machine. This car likes high-speed sweeping bends better than it likes twisted and kinked sections of road. You never quite forget about its size—it has a 116-inch wheelbase after all. It’s a big car, sure, but then again it’s also a four-seater. A real honest-to-God four-seater, not a two-plus-two. Which means the back seats are actually not a totally bad place for your knees to reside.

2012 Maserati GranTurismo MC

Layout
Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive

Epcp 1112 07 o+2012 maserati gran turismo mc+rear seating.jpgepcp 1112 03 o+2012 maserati gran turismo mc+front.jpg Photo 6/8   |   2012 Maserati GranTurismo MC - First Drive

Engine
4.7-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve

Transmission
Six-speed automatic

Dimensions
Length/Width/Height (in.): 194.2/75.4/52.9
Wheelbase: 115.8 in.
Curb Weight: 4,145 lb

MSRP: $139,900

Performance
Peak Power: 444 hp @ 7000 rpm
Peak Torque: 376 lb-ft @ 4750 rpm
0-60 mph: 4.8 sec.
Top Speed: 185 mph

Speaking of the interior, probably the most striking thing about Maserati interior space is the very high quality of the surface appointments: smooth leather, slightly rubberized facing on the center dash and stereo section rather than mere plebian plastic. And tons of gleaming carbon-fiber trim, which all happens to be standard on the MC as part of what they call the M Design interior. Aside from the side mirror adjustment knob that tended to dig into my knee as while attempting to brace for spirited cornering, the GranTurismo is completely and totally ergonomically sound. The steering wheel is a particularly nice piece, with a substantial diameter and well-sculpted circumference. The transmission shift paddles are column mounted, so they don’t turn with the wheel, but they’re freakin’ huge. In a good way. The company calls them “Trofeo-style” and they’re long enough to allow access to your shift points pretty much regardless of where you have your hands on the wheel. A little over-the-top maybe, but they’re probably the best paddles going, and on the MC they’re sculpted from real carbon.

Epcp 1112 03 o+2012 maserati gran turismo mc+up shift Photo 7/8   |   2012 Maserati GranTurismo MC - First Drive

Overall, a drive in the Maserati GT MC makes for a pretty nice way to spend an afternoon—even if you’re just out for a cruise. And if the $143,850 starting price (which includes gas guzzler tax, destination and dealer prep) makes you balk, consider that a similarly equipped non-MC GT is only about $3,500 less—sans aero work and added downforce, the M Design interior appointments, lightweight wheels and the additional V8 power.

I’ll take mine in white with black wheels and a red leather interior, thanks.

Maserati Granturismo Convertible Sport

A good argument for leaving the top down—permanently

Epcp 1112 08 o+2012 maserati gran turismo mc+rear seating.jpgepcp 1112 03 o+2012 maserati gran turismo mc+side.jpg Photo 8/8   |   2012 Maserati GranTurismo MC - First Drive

With the MC launch, Maserati also released a new version of the drop-top GranTurismo. The Convertible Sport follows a grand tradition of Maserati convertibles and bumps performance to MC-like levels, with the upgraded 444-hp engine, quickened MC Auto Shift mode and design cues unique to this model. It runs to 60 mph in just over 5 seconds up to a top speed of 177 mph.

Exterior cues include blacked-out bits and pieces like the grille, headlamps and tailpipes. It gets a new wheel design, “Astro,” body-colored door handles, “shadow line” trim, and MC side skirts. Interior accoutrements include drilled aluminum pedals, optional carbon-fiber trim, and the elongated Trofeo shift paddles.

In pushing the performance package, special attention was paid to improving overall structural rigidity. In fact, the company claims rigidity is the best in its class, and goes hand in hand with upgraded suspension components that include stiffer springs and modified damping, stiffer antiroll bars and recalibrated Skyhook software.

But the convertible’s best selling point is that with the top down it puts you that much closer to the 4.7-liter V8’s exhaust note. It may just make the most compelling argument out there for top-down motoring. If it actually did come down to choosing between this car and the MC… well, not that it will anytime soon. But if it did, we’d have to think long and hard about it. —

2012 Maserati GT Convertible Sport

Layout
Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive

Engine
4.7-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve

Transmission
Six-speed automatic

MSRP: $142,800

Performance
Peak Power: 444 hp @ 7000 rpm
Peak Torque: 376 lb-ft @ 4750 rpm
0-60 mph: 5.2 sec.
Top Speed: 177 mph

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By Karl Funke
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