Road-legal race cars are a growing trend, with models such as the Caparo T1, developed by the engineers who built the McLaren F1, already on the market, and other manufacturers developing their products in this area. Maserati's fastest, lightest and most powerful model, the GranTurismo MC Stradale, will be on sale from about spring 2011, and it has the speed to be considered a road-legal racing car. At the same time, it has the handling characteristics that make it an eminently usable sports car. It was developed as a response to existing Maserati customers who wanted a road-legal sports car that looked and felt like the GT4 and Trofeo race cars, and so it is part of the Maserati tradition of road-legal race vehicles, following on from the Ghibli Cup in the 1990s, and the GranSport MC Victory a decade later.
The GranTurismo MC Stradale is Maserati's first two-seat car since the MC12. Considerable attention has been dedicated to reducing weight, and it is in fact the lightest Maserati presently in production. Its Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes weigh less than the preceding dual-cast alloy brakes. The wheels are also lightweight alloy 20-inch models, with custom-developed Pirelli tyres. All together, the weight of the car has been reduced to 1,770 kg, with a 48:52 weight distribution. In combination with a pedigree engine, this means superlative performance, while handling has been made more precise and sports-oriented by an 8% increase in suspension rigidity on both axles.
The power plant is a 4.7 litre V8 engine, which produces 450 HP and 530 Nm torque., and as a result, top speed is over 300 km/h (another first for the marque), with acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.6 seconds. Maserati's racing experience has been used to shape a car that generates more aerodynamic downforce without producing more aerodynamic drag. Advanced electronic systems are used to reduce gear-shift times to just 60 milliseconds in the MC Race Shift electro-actuated transaxle gearbox.
The car is the first Maserati ever to have a dedicated "Race" mode, together with the Auto and Sport modes, in its dashboard layout. The Race mode includes Sequential Downshifting, so that you just hold in the paddle while braking, and the car changes down at exactly the right moment as the speed decreases, until the driver releases the gear-shift paddle. This is useful when going into a tight turn after a long straight, allowing the driver to make just one movement rather than having to make a series of gearshifts. With the Sport or Race mode switched off, the exhaust bypass flap closes, and the gearshift settings change to a more relaxed 240 milliseconds per change. The Maserati Stability Programme cuts in to ensure a smooth ride.
The bodywork includes features developed specifically for the extreme new sports car, such as new air vents on the flanks to allow hot air from the brakes to escape. Inside, the pure racing cockpit look is enhanced by the all-black design, instead of chrome and alloy and the customary Maserati blue instrumentation. Purchasers can customize their MC Stradale by means of various interior and exterior details, such as an Alcantara roof lining, carbon-fibre interior trim including lightweight carbon-fibre race seats with high-tech padding and stitched Trident logo on the headrests, carbon fibre gearshift paddle set, a roll cage, and a four-point racing harness. The Maserati racing kit includes racing suit and gloves, and there is even a bespoke racing helmet.
Last but not least, the MC Stradale sounds like it belongs on the track, with a rich, satisfying exhaust sound, inviting the driver to push the car to its limits, for an ultimate racetrack experience wherever you are.
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