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Maserati is back in a big way, with a sexy V8 coupe that will bring back fond memories of the Ghibli and make one forget the dark days of the dull and unreliable BiTurbos.
Italian looks and personality for under $100,000, the option of an F1-style transmission, comfortable cockpit, a healthy warranty.
Potential for price gouging due to supply-versus-demand scenario, F1 transmission could be more refined.
Available Coupe Models
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Respect for Maserati, as it resumes building real sports cars.
After more than a decade's absence from the U.S. market, Maserati will be hoping to cash in on some of its past heritage (the good heritage, not the unreliable and homely styled heritage) with a new coupe called, simply, the Coupe. Maserati is fully owned by Ferrari, which is itself owned by a Fiat subsidiary. Thanks to the new ownership and the resulting new-found financial strength, Maserati was able to revamp its antiquated factory completely and develop an all-new sportscar.
A new Ferrari-designed 4.2-liter V8 makes 390 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. It drives the rear wheels via one of two available rear transaxles: a standard six-speed manual (in the GT) or a computer-actuated six-speed sequential-shifting manual (in the Cambiocorsa -- Italian for racing gearbox), the sequential-shifting unit is similar in design to the Ferrari 360 F1's. There is no clutch pedal, and it allows gearshifts to be made in the blink of an eye.
Four modes are offered with this gearbox: Normal, Sport, Auto and Low Grip. In Normal and Sport, the transmission shifts aggressively; more so in Sport mode. In Auto, the car shifts itself automatically. In Low Grip, gentler starts are ensured for low-traction surfaces. The Cambiocorsa also interfaces with the available Skyhook electronically variable suspension that can automatically adjust the shock damping up to 40 times a second. Massive four-piston caliper disc brakes (with ABS), elegant 18-inch alloy wheels wearing Michelin Pilots (235/40 front, 265/35 rear) and traction control complete the Coupe's hardware.
A sensuous body, penned by Giugiaro's ItalDesign studio, rests on a chassis with a wheelbase nearly 9 inches longer than the Spyder's, resulting in room for four adults as opposed to the Spyder's intimate seating for just two.
Italy is known for its fine leather products and sense of style, and the Coupe's cockpit is proof of this with its high-grade hides and attention to detail. A dip in the center of the dash echoes the signature Maserati grille, and the various controls are much easier to use compared with past Masers.
Standard equipment includes power seats with driver memory, front and side airbags, and a trip computer. Also standard is the Maserati Info Center, a 5.8-inch color display mounted in the center of the dash, which is used to operate the audio system, the climate controls and the trip computer. Options available include a rear parking sensor, xenon headlights, a GPS navigation system, a hands-free phone and a five-disc CD changer. Maserati also backs its cars with a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty.
With a price slated to be under $100,000, the Maserati Coupe offers a more realistic rear seat than would-be competitors such as the Jaguar XK8/XKR at a price less than half that of a Ferrari 456M. Problem is, Maserati is importing just a few hundred coupes. Finding one without a long waiting list is going to be difficult, indeed.
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