We drove the entire 2014 Maserati line-up and loved it!
Established a hundred years ago, Maserati has come a long way since its humble beginnings and today makes some of the most striking vehicles in the world that satisfy both, aesthetic and aural fetishes.
When the invitation to Maserati’s Ghibli event popped up in my Inbox, little did I know that a series of firsts would entail. Not only would it be the very first time I was behind the wheel of their entire line-up, but it would also be the very first time I would be visiting the swanky Vida Hotel in Downtown Dubai.
Following a lively press conference, it was time to head to the parking lot where Ghibli’s, and Quattroporte’s were aplenty, while the gems – the GranCabrio MC and GranTurismo MC Stradale, were nestled amongst them like pearls among the oysters.
Divided into two sections, the event encapsulated short, as well as long drives as part of the itinerary. The former consisted of a quick drive from Downtown to Nad Al Sheba, through Meydan and then back to Vida; while the latter saw us zoom down the Dubai – Al Ain road and then head towards the Dubai stables, and oh boy, what a road that was!
We started out with the Ghibli: Maserati’s mode of entry into the E-segment of the market that is home to veterans such as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5-Series. More than just a pretty face, the Ghibli actually marks a turning point in the brand’s 100 year history, as for the first time the Italian marque has two four-door sedans in its line-up at the same time.
The fierce mug of the Ghibli is comprised of angular headlamps that integrate LED’s and converge into the slotted grille that houses the large chrome trident. Along the sides, distinctive features such as chrome outlined air-vents and a neat trident on the C-Pillar are present. Although, it is the broad rear end with its wraparound tail lamps and quad exhausts that I feel looks the best.
Inside, it’s all quite customiseable. While trims range from wood to carbon fiber, colours range from black to beige and seventeen more in between. But at the bottom of it all, is a unique, cockpit inspired dashboard that houses an 8.4 inch touch screen and a classic analogue clock above it.
Sharing its chassis, suspension, engine and transmission with its bigger brother, the Quattroporte, the Ghibli is available in two flavours, both of which are powered by a twin turbo-charged 3.0 litre engine. The standard model churns out just 330 horsepower, while the S variant stirs up an impressive 410 horsepower. With an ideal 50:50 weight distribution, the Ghibli is an exciting car to drive and even more so in S guise. Though power is available on tap and it stays composed through the bends, I have just one gripe with it; it’s not loud enough! The way I see it, having an Italian sports car with a hushed exhaust note is like having pasta without the sauce – it’s just not as nice when a vital ingredient is missing.
The second car we were going to be driving was the Quattroporte. Having already driven this earlier for a road-test, I wasn’t particularly excited by it. But oh well, I wasn’t going to complain when behind the wheel of a Maserati.
It was back in 1963 that the Italian brand decided to do something a little different and created the first ever sports sedan. Today in 2014, the Quattroporte is in its sixth generation and is not only larger, but lighter, more luxurious and more practical than the model it replaces.
The Quattroporte’s body shape is characterized by a combination of taut and muscular lines and timeless proportions that lend it natural elegance. Inspired by the GranTurismo, familiar family DNA is clearly present, and that isn’t a bad thing at all.
Inside, it’s a combination of refined, clean styling with wood trim making its way from the dashboard to the centre console and door panels. Produced at the state of the art facility in Grugliasco near Turin, the interior is definitely more modern and refined than Quattroporte’s of the past.
Built in partnership with Ferrari at its facility in Maranello, the Quattroporte S is powered by a 3.0 litre twin turbo-charged V6 engine that dashes from 0 – 100 km/h in 5.1 seconds and boasts a top speed of 285 km/h. But obviously that wasn’t enough for the Italian boys who wanted something spicier, so out came the GTS with a 3.8 litre twin turbo-charged V8 that zooms to 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds before continuing to its 307 km/h top speed. Mapped to a rear-wheel-drive layout, the Quattroporte is a fun car to be behind the wheel of, but sadly, it’s likely to appeal only to those who are a part of…Generation X?
Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale
Take a standard GranTurismo, make it gulp down a few protein shakes, sign it up for a month’s membership at the gym and then adorn it with an abundance of carbon fiber. The result is the MC Stradale – a beefier, faster and more aggressive GranTurismo than ever before.
The GranTurismo MC Stradale radiates its athletic character with a long hood, muscular rear and defined lines that suggest a forceful forward movement. However, it’s worth noting that alterations such as a re-shaped bonnet are carried out not just for visual reasons, but to reduce drag and improve high speed stability as well.
In order to keep weight to a bare minimum, the front seats utilize carbon fiber backs, but all the usual leather and Alcantara trims are present. With massive paddles shifters and an absolutely brilliant driving position, navigating the MC Stradale really does make you feel like a race car driver.
Powered by the most potent version of Maserati’s 4.7 litre V8, the MC Stradale transmits 460 raging horses to the road through a 6-speed electro-actuated gearbox. Three drive modes are present (Automatic, Sport and Race) with each bettering throttle response, the exhaust note and the skid-control systems. In Race mode, the MC Stradale really shines, carrying out shifts in just 60 milliseconds. To put into perspective, that’s 5 times quicker than the blink of an eye!
Maserati GranCabrio MC
Out here at AutoMiddleEast, we like saving the best for last. We’ve all heard the saying ‘Old is Gold’, and it is absolutely true with the Maserati GranCabrio MC. A drop top that’s loud, quick and oozing with sex appeal!
With striking new matte black headlights, a larger spoiler and centre mounted exhausts, the GranCabrio MC is an absolute stunner. Completed with 20 inch wheels and blue brake calipers, there aren’t many other convertibles that get me weak in the knees like this one does.
Still following old school design philosophies, it is clear that the interior hasn’t been put together in the same factory as the Ghibli or the Quattroporte. And I’m not complaining because by paying homage to Maserati’s of the past, the GranCabrio MC is home to seats that hug you like an overprotective girlfriend would; a flattened steering wheel with indented areas for your thumbs and best of all, a scattering of carbon fiber to top it all off.
At the heart of the GranCabrio MC is a 4.7 litre V8 engine that rockets the Italian babe from 0 – 100 km/h in just 4.9 seconds. As the 460 horsepower and 520 Nm of torque are unleashed onto the road, the sweetest of growls and snorts are emitted from the tailpipes. For someone like myself who loves the growl of a V8, driving this beast with the top down was an experience best described as surreal.
As the day drew to a close, I was absolutely psyched to have been behind the wheel of the entire Maserati fleet. The roads we discovered and the cars we drove were definitely memorable, but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t forget the GranCabrio MC and the way its growl bellowed in the air. So if anyone from Maserati is reading this, my birthday is coming up soon…