Ahead of you, a straight stretch of road. You start to accelerate, and the automatic gearbox shifts, the engine revs increase with a throaty grumble. You push the accelerator down to the floor and the rumble becomes an urgent, high-pitched roar. At the same time, you're pushed back into the seat, your head against the leather headrest, by the acceleration. Which continues. In a few seconds you're at 140 km/h, a few seconds more and you're past 200, still accelerating towards its top speed of over 300 km/h, powered along by that bellowing block of alloy under the bonnet. You suddenly see that there is a corner ahead, hidden by the trees and the grass verges. You hit the brake, and you're restrained by the seatbelt as she slows, without a squeal, straight as a die. You think: this is what Formula One must be like. It's there, in your grasp. Powerful, safe, easily handled.
The racing DNA is all around you. The red-stitched black upholstery. Carbon fibre everywhere, on the bonnet, the dashboard, the steering wheel, harmonizing with the black leather. When you get into the driving seat for the first time, the 'office' seems small, at first, but after a few minutes, you realize that it's been specially tailored for you. Everything that you need is at your fingertips. The button that changes the gearbox from automatic to manual, with the two paddles that give you a super-rapid gear change. The sport button that toughs up the ride, quickens the gear change, and opens the exhaust valves so that the engine's song shifts up some decibels. The racing-hard suspension that gives you a feel for the road, without ever becoming uncomfortable. Speedo and tachymeter, perfectly visible through the wheel. Heating and air-con, split for driver and passenger. And the two seats behind, beautifully upholstered, not spacious.
The car is a direct descendant from the Maserati Trofeo Championship racing version, in which there are no rear seats. In the MC Stradale, it's not about the passengers. It's you and the car. You and the engine. She talks to you, when you're waiting at a red light, a spirited chuckle; the taut, vibrant tenor call as you speed away; the pops and sputters when you take your foot off the gas. In the MC Stradale, every metre of road becomes your stage. You're the conductor as the car sings your song.
There is a tired turn of phrase: sex on wheels. But the MC Stradale is nothing like that. It's like acrobatics in an aircraft, that exhilaration of diving and turning and accelerating, translated into the dimensions of the road. It's uncompromising and elemental. Packed into a cockpit of wicked beauty. The comfort is there all around you, but it doesn't isolate you from the feel of that horsepower. The essence of the MC Stradale is this: it takes you from car-driver to racecar driver in a matter of seconds. Because all that technical stuff is there to give you immediate, absolute control over all that power. And it's an amazing feeling.