first drive

2014 Maserati Granturismo MC Stradale review

The MC Stradale is the most hardcore version of Maserati's big coupe, and it now gets rear seats and a little more power to improve its appeal...

2014 Maserati Granturismo MC Stradale review
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Vicky Parrott
9 Jul 2014 12:00

It doesn't look much different than before, but when you're saying that about the Maserati Granturismo MC Stradale, it's no bad thing. In fact, the only differences, apart from some subtle design tweaks, are the inclusion of two rear seats and an extra 9bhp.

That means that a 4.7-litre V8 resides beneath the carbonfibre bonnet, sending power to the rear-wheels via a six-speed automated manual gearbox. As a nod to its racing car inspiration, the MC Stradale gets stiffer suspension, thicker anti-roll bars and carbon-ceramic brakes over the Granturismo Sport, which uses the same engine. 

What’s the Maserati Granturismo MC Stradale like to drive?

Let’s talk about the noise first. Good grief, the noise. The MC Stradale has three drive modes – Auto, Sport and the Stradale-specific Race. Opt for the Race, and the exhaust baffles open permanently, giving full voice to the utterly glorious, symphonic V8 soundtrack. 

As for the driving experience, it isn't as scintillating as its aural accompaniment.

The automated manual gearbox is tricky to get used to. In auto mode, when you can just leave it alone and it'll do the hard work for you, it's quite slow to change. This means that even under moderate acceleration, there’s a pause in momentum substantial enough to have your head nodding forwards. It can also be quite jerky at low-speed manoeuvring.

However, when driven harder and in either of two more focused settings, the gearbox responds more quickly, and you can enjoy taking full control using the large paddles mounted behind the steering wheel. It’s not as slick as the best twin-clutch ’boxes you’ll find in rivals such as the Porsche 911 and Audi R8, but it’s decent enough. 

Power arrives progressively, too, reaching a wailing crescendo at around 7000rpm, so there’s nothing unpredictable or nervy about the way the MC Stradale streaks up the road. Mind you, it’s also not really all that fast by the standards of £110k sports cars; a much cheaper Porsche 911 Carrera S PDK is still faster to 62mph, and there are plenty of four-seat sports cars available for many tens of thousands less that are faster over the 62mph sprint. 

The Stradale's handling is a touch underwhelming, too. While the steering has a nice bite to it at low speeds, it feels disconcertingly light mid-corner, and just doesn’t give you the sense of connection you would hope for. That's even more of a shame, given that the Stradale turns in to bends sharply, resists body lean well, and, if it does run out of grip at the rear, it does so progressively. True, it doesn’t feel as responsive and overtly nimble as the best rivals, but this is still a car you can enjoy on a track day as well as on the road.

Ride comfort is acceptable given the focused nature of the MC Stradale. It’s a bit bouncy and fidgety over town roads, and it does occasionally hop sideways over mid-corner bumps, though.

What’s the Maserati Granturismo MC Stradale like inside?

The good news is that those sculpted rear seats are comfortable, and will accommodate an average-sized adult quite comfortably. Anyone approaching or over six feet tall is likely to feel cramped, but the Maserati offers more space in the back than, say, a Porsche 911. 

Sadly, the cabin feels seriously behind the times, with switchgear and an infotainment system that would look fiddly and outdated in a Volkswagen Golf.

Adjustable side-bolsters for the deeply sculpted front seats, and more range of adjustment to the steering wheel would be welcome, too. Even without this, though, most drivers will be able to find a comfortable driving position.

However, the boot is quite shallow, and narrows towards the seats, so while you’ll get a set of golf clubs in there, carrying luggage for four people will be more of a problem than carrying the people themselves. 

Should I buy one?

This sort of car is never an objective purchase, and if you fall for the Granturismo MC Stradale’s flair, you're unlikely to be too disappointed. After all, it's now more practical than it was, yet just as much fun and will still serve as a reasonable long-distance GT. 

However, you don’t need to apply more than a modicum of objectivity to see that the Stradale is up against rivals that it struggles to compete with, not least the Porsche 911 Carrera S PDK, which has dramatically better handling finesse and interior finish, and is more than £24,000 less.

Or, for the same price as the MC Stradale, if you can sacrifice the rear seats, a Porsche 911 GT3 is much faster and in another league of handling. If that doesn't appeal, even other Maserati Granturismo models (particularly the Sport) are hard to overlook.

So, ultimately, the Granturismo MC Stradale is an entirely illogical purchase. If you're not bothered by that, fill your boots.

What Car? says...


Bentley Continental GT

Porsche 911 Carrera S PDK

Maserati Granturismo MC Stradale

Engine size 4.7-litre V8

Price from £110,135

Power 453bhp

Torque 384lb ft

0-62mph 4.5 seconds

Top speed 188mph

Fuel economy 18.2mpg

CO2 output 360g/km