First Drive: 2011 Maserati GranTurismo MC

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.

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.

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