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Maserati is back in a big way, with a sexy V8 roadster 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.
Available Spyder 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 roadster called, simply, the Spyder. 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 factor 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 Modena 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 Spyder's hardware.
A sensuous body, penned by Giugiaro's ItalDesign studio, incorporates a fully automatic soft top that hides under a hard cover, leaving the car's handsome lines uninterrupted when motoring al fresco. The rear window is plastic, however.
There's no shortage of quality on the inside. Italy is known for its fine leather products and sense of style, and the Spyder's cockpit is proof of this with its high-grade hides and attention to detail. The leather upholstery comes in 10 colors (the top comes in five different shades). 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 Spyder is over $60,000 less than its cousin and cross-town rival, the Ferrari 360 Spider. Problem is, Maserati is importing just a few hundred Spyders. Finding one without a long waiting list is going to be difficult, indeed.
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