Although the Spyder officially marked the return of into the U.S. market, the Coupe, arriving in Ferrari/Maserati dealer showrooms in May, is the car I was waiting to drive. Why? Well, aside from the fact that I'm one of the few people in Southern California who prefer fixed-roofed cars over top-down ones, the Coupe boasts better performance than its convertible counterpart, thanks to a lower curb weight of 3675 lb. and a more rigid body structure. And, at $77,175, it is less expensive than the Spyder, at $83,175.
The Coupe, like the , is powered by a 4.2-liter 90-degree V-8 that produces 390 bhp at 7000 rpm and 330 lb.-ft. of torque at 4500. This 32-valve powerplant is compact in nature and extremely lightweight, mainly because it is constructed of aluminum and silicon alloy. It features variable valve timing on the intake cams, with valve actuation taking less than 0.15 second. This engine supplies gobs of torque all the way from about 1000 rpm to redline. In fact it's so flexible that it'll pull away in 6th gear from about 30 mph. It comes mated to either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed Cambiocorsa (the Formula 1-style paddle-shift system) rear-mounted transaxle.
The car I drove in Italy was equipped with the Cambiocorsa F1 paddle shifter, a $4000 option. And we were given a half-day to put the car through its paces on country roads north of Rome. The first thing you notice about the new Italian coupe is the sound of the engine. It has that distinct Ferrari wail that instinctively forces you to turn the radio down and put your hand over your passenger's mouth.
First gear is engaged by a blip on the right-side paddle. Step on the accelerator pedal and the Coupe leaves the line like a true Italian exotic, with the rear 265/35ZR-18 tires leaving long black streaks on the pavement. As you near redline, another blip on the paddle grabs 2nd gear, and you're treated to a robust forward burst that doesn't let up until you reach the 7600-rpm redline. Maserati claims that the Coupe will run from zero to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, and to the quarter mile in roughly 13.0.
The is just as capable on the twisty stuff. The car's suspension system — upper and lower A-arms both front and rear — does a commendable job of providing optimal handling balance with minimal body roll. Of note here is the adaptive damping and acceleration sensors dubbed "Skyhook" that adjust the suspension in response to cornering loads and driving style.
The Maserati drives like a pure-blooded Italian exotic, but you'll be surprised to know that it's a genuine 4-seater. There's enough room in the rear seats for two adults, and the trunk holds a pair of small golf bags. Ride quality is excellent, and the car's cabin remains relatively quiet, with wind noise creeping in at speeds above 75 mph. The interior is h and comfortable, with leather upholstery on the seats, dash and doors.
The exterior styling is both elegant and sporty. The front features a distinctive grille, with the famed "trident" emblem, and large oval headlights. The rear is highlighted by muscular quarter panels and triangular taillights.
But the best thing about the new Maserati is that it's a true grand tourer — a car that has the performance of a sports car, while being civil enough for everyday commuting.
The Italians introduced us to the Gran Turismo genre more than 40 years ago, and today they seem to have perfected it in the form of the Maserati Coupe.