Pavarotti would be pleased

The fastest-ever Maserati evokes mem­o­ries for Paul Owen of Juan Manuel Fan­gio

South Waikato News - - MOTORING -

If he was alive to­day Juan Manuel Fan­gio would be 100 years old. The Ar­gen­tinian was, un­til Michael Schumacher the world’s most suc­cess­ful F1 driver and won the last of his five For­mula One ti­tles in the el­e­gant Maserati 250F.

I’m about to drive the Tri­dent brand’s fastestever pro­duc­tion road car around the Shang­hai For­mula One cir­cuit in a per­sonal tribute to the 100th an­niver­sary of Fan­gio’s birth. As if to re­in­force the con­nec­tion, the de­sign­ers of the new MC Stradale have shaped the front split­ter of the body kit they’ve added to the new Granturismo S-based hero car to evoke mem­o­ries of the 250F. As we wait for the off, its the car’s way of telling me that Ive got some big driv­ing shoes to fill.

As is the glo­ri­ous sound, the new ex­haust fit­ted to the new Stradale ver­sion of the Granturismo S coupe not only lib­er­ates a bit more power and torque, it pro­motes the Fer­raridesigned 4.7litre V8 en­gines claim to the ti­tle of the world’s best­sound­ing bent-eight. The Maserati en­gine doesn’t have the revpro­mot­ing flat-plane crank that makes Fer­rari V8 sound like two in­line fours in­stead of a proper V8. The Tri­dent-badged en­gine does still pos­sess the rel­a­tively high red­line (8500rpm) how­ever and put the Stradale in the race mode – calm­ing down its sta­bil­ity con­trol, quick­en­ing the shift times of its robo­tised six-speed gear­box and open­ing the flap in the ex­haust sys­tem, and you have a car that makes a sound that other fa­mous late Maserati driver Lu­ciano Pavarotti would def­i­nitely en­joy.

As we en­ter Shang­hai’s start-fin­ish straight and flash be­neath the cir­cuits iconic bridge at 180kmh, my min­der in the pas­sen­ger seat presses the race mode but­ton and the Stradale in­stantly comes alive. Full-throt­tle flat-shifts now ram home in 60 mil­lisec­onds in­stead more than 100 and the in­take and ex­haust sys­tems now fully vent the ex­plo­sive rage of the high-revving en­gine. Its tempt­ing to ig­nore the com­mands com­ing from the pas­sen­ger seat to brake now as Turn One ap­proaches, just to en­joy all the drama and ac­tion of a Maserati pow­er­train at full song. For the Stradale’s huge serv­ing-plate sized car­bon-ce­ramic discs and multi-pis­ton calipers are now up to op­ti­mum op­er­at­ing tem­per­a­ture and I’m cer­tain that my pas­sen­ger’s de­mands for speed re­tar­da­tion are com­ing at least 100m too early.

A quick prod of the brake pedal in­stantly re­moves all the ve­loc­ity that’s re­quired to ne­go­ti­ate the tricky de­creas­ing-ra­dius right-han­der and we free-wheel the last 100m to the turn to con­serve most of the cor­ner­ing speed that the Stradale is ca­pa­ble of. Thanks to re­duc­tions in body ride height by 20mm at the front and 10mm at the rear, the eight per cent stiffer springs and the in­creased direc­tional and lat­eral abil­i­ties of the fat­ter Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres, its a far more in­ci­sive and re­spon­sive car than the Granturismo S.

Fur­ther into the lap comes Turn 7. The Stradale isn’t as blessed by down­force, al­though the body­work changes add 25 per cent more than the GTS at the front end of the car at 200kmh and a 50 per cent in­crease at the rear. De­spite this, the rear end of the car breaks gen­tly into over­steer as I try to hold the Stradale on a tight exit line to set the car up for Turn 8. In race mode, the car ev­i­dently al­lows around six-de­grees of slip­page be­fore the elec­tron­ics are de­ployed, enough to ex­cite and in­volve the driver while still staying safe and se­cure.

With a brush of the brakes, I then snap the car right into turn eight, the lat­eral G-force test­ing the strength of our necks.

The Stradale’s steer­ing feels re­spon­sive and light, per­haps a lit­tle too light to bear di­rect com­par­i­son with a sim­i­larly-fo­cused Porsche 911. A lit­tle more heft might not help park­ing ma­neou­vres in down­town Shang­hai but would be ap­pre­ci­ated in fast sweep­ers like this. At a Glance: En­gine: 4691cc 32-valve dohc V8 stoked by fuel in­jec­tion to de­velop 330kW (449bhp) at 7000rpm and 510Nm of torque at 4750rpm Trans­mis­sion: Reardrive transaxle fea­tur­ing a robo­tized six-speed man­ual gear­box. Per­for­mance: 0-100km/h: 4.6 sec­onds; top speed: 301kmh; fuel use in sim­u­lated city/ high­way driv­ing lab test: 14.4litres/km; CO2 out­put: 337g/km. Price: $350,000 Hot: Fastest ever Maserati road car is still civilised enough to use ev­ery day. Not: Porsche’s 911 GT3 is more affordable and of­fers more in­volv­ing steer­ing.

MASERATI STRADALE: most pow­er­ful ver­sion of the com­pany’s cel­e­brated coupe is al­most op­er­atic in terms of its soundsig­na­ture and de­meanour.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.