24 hours in a Maser MC Stradale
A yachtsman needs one thing before he sails across the Atlantic: a Pot Noodle. We have a fast Maserati and the clock is ticking...
Posted: 06 Aug 2012
The MC Stradale is not that sort of Maserati (and photographer Steve is not that kind of girl). The most powerful car the company has made since the Ferrari Enzo-based MC12, the Strad has junked the rear seats and sound insulation to shed 110kg from its porky 1,890kg kerbweight, and ramped up the power from its sonorous 4.7-litre V8 to 444bhp. There's a roll cage, racier carbon-fibre seats with a four-point race harness rather than regular seatbelts, and carbon and Alcantara trim. This Maserati, then, is tilting at Porsche 911 GT3 territory, while casting envious looks over its shapely Pininfarina-designed shoulders at its Trofeo racing brothers rather than wondering which Riviera hostelry serves the best vodka martini at 3am.
All of which suggests that it should be largely rubbish on the long haul south through not one, but two large European countries. In fact, it's surprisingly effective. A good car knows when to shut up on a journey like this, and though the Stradale generates the sort of subterranean, barrel-chested bass frequencies last heard when Brian Blessed exhorted Flash Gordon, it also settles into a profoundly appealing, péage-punctuating sixth-gear lope. At 125mph, front downforce is apparently improved by 25 per cent and a handsome 50 per cent at the rear, courtesy of a reworked front splitter and rear diffuser and carbon-fibre spoiler. Its high-speed stability is noticeably better, and despite a lower ride height, tighter dampers (fixed rather than active) and chunkier anti-roll bars, it rides with surprisingly old-school GT suppleness.
We're over the border and into Spain by the evening, which is where we encounter the only roadworks of the entire trip (yes, the length of France with nary a bollard or cone in sight). With 994 miles covered since Calais, we fuel up somewhere near Salamanca. Astonishingly, this is also the one and only time in three days that either Steve or I will consume a can of a well-known energy drink. It has the desired effect, though. "You know," says Steve, cradling that familiar little caffeinated cylinder, "if we push on, my iPhone's navigation system reckons we'll make Cadiz by about 2.30am..."