Maserati Coupe: Italian Appeal

Italy's answer to the Porsche Carrera and Jaguar XK, the Maserati Coupe is a stylishly sexy, sonorous sounding, smooth riding and devastatingly quick around the Varano de Malegari circuit in Parma.

One would not be doing the Maserati Coupe any justice, were one to describe it as a de-tuned or base-model from which the Gransport is derived, but rather that the Gransport is in fact the honed, sharper and more focused of the two. In effect, the Coupe is scorcher of a car without the added Gransport tuning, for it easily more than matches the Jaguar XK, or for that matter, even the beefed-up Porsche Carrera S for performance and sheer exotic elegance.

Having driven the Coupe during the same sessions as the Gransport, my immediate interest was in the latter, but if one were to view the Coupe as a standalone, its performance is simply scintillating for a naturally aspirated 4.2 liter V8 with variable valve timing featured only on the intake manifold. With 390 BHP extracted at high-revving 7,000 RPM and 333 lb/ft of torque peaking at 4,500 RPM, the Coupe manages a devastating 4.9 second to 100 km/h from standstill, and on to un-restricted top speed of 285 km/h.

The Ferrari derived short stroke and free-revving V8 is the same unit to be found in the Gransport and the Quattroporte, and as such is sweet and evocative sounding engine, which hits all the right aural triggers with a burbling, growling and screaming symphony playing out through the rev range ― albeit with slightly less gusto and dramatic effect than in an open top Gransport. With more power naturally comes more fuel consumption, but paying a bit more at the pumps is not likely to be an issue for someone wealthy enough for this particular motoring niche.

Perhaps it isn’t quite as sharp as the Gransport, but the Coupe is an exciting and effective track companion, with corners and sudden directional changes made in a crisp and precise manner. While its ride quality is firmly comfortable, and high speeds are delivered with confidence, the Coupe also manages exceptional handling, owing to its balanced and intelligent architecture.

Like other Maseratis and front engine Ferraris, the main bulk of the Coupe’s weight ideally and pretty evenly distributed within the wheelbase, as the engine is recessed behind the front axle and the gearbox is mounted in front of the rear axle. For better balance, agility, a lower centre of gravity and more controlled weight transfer dynamics, the engine is a low and short dry-sump unit. At 1,670 kgs, the Coupe is not much heavier than the all-aluminum Jaguar XK, but is smaller in size, which is not a bad thing, as it makes even more agile.

As the Coupe GT, the base model comes equipped with 6-speed manual gearbox, or as a Coupe Cambicorsa, it comes with Maserati’s electro-hydraulic automated manual (with a clutch mechanism rather than torque converter), with control of the six forward gear through the F1-style paddle shifts behind the steering wheel, or can be driven in an automatic mode.

Another main option feature is the Skyhook variable adaptive damping system, which works ten times faster than comparable systems to constantly fine-tune suspension response, and thus offers superb ride comfort as well as composure through the corners as it adeptly controls body roll. I found Skyhook to be particularly adept at ironing out and dealing with poor road surfaces, and manages to communicate the fine ripples of a road’s texture.

With a luscious interior managing to feel classy, sport and indulgent all at once, and with a curvaceous feel to the layout of the interior that perfectly complements the sensually elegant Italdesign-Giugiaro styling, which manages to incorporate an evocatively exotic feel, which combines masculine muscularity with more pronounced feminine curvatures than somewhat aggressive aura radiated by the Gransport and its body kit enhancements.

Specifications

  • Bore x Stroke: 92 x 79.8 mm.
  • Gearbox: 6-speed, automated clutch / 6-speed manual
  • Driveline: Front-mid engine, rear transaxle gearbox, RWD
  • Top speed: 285 km/h
  • 0-100km/h: 4.9 seconds
  • Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 385 (390) [287] @7000rpm
  • Torque lb/ft (Nm):  333 (452) @4500rpm
  • Length: 4523 mm
  • Width: 1822 mm
  • Height:  1305 mm
  • Wheelbase: 2660 mm
  • Track, F/R: 1525 / 1538 mm
  • Overhang, F/R: 963 / 900 mm
  • Kerb weight: 1,670 kg (Cambiocorsa 1,680 kg)