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Driven: Maserati GranTurismo MC Sportline checks in

Hot sauce: Maserati’s classic GranTurismo gets a new lease on life with model realignment and price reduction.

Australasian-specific Maserati coupe brings MC Stradale looks to GranTurismo

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Maserati logo16 Apr 2015

By TIM ROBSON

UPDATED: 18/04/2015MASERATI is testing the water with its Australasia-only GranTurismo MC Sportline, but if the latest iteration of the hot coupe is a strong seller Down Under, it will be rolled out to other Maserati territories around the world.

The $295,000 before on-road costs GranTurismo MC Sportline was conceived a year ago at Maserati's local distributor European Automotive Imports (EAI), and was pitched to the Italian car-maker, with Australia’s strong position within the worldwide group ensuring the deal got across the line.

“It's an Australia, New Zealand-specific car,” confirmed Maserati Australia and New Zealand general manager Glen Sealey, to GoAuto. “It is designed, of course, off the GranTurismo Sport but with changes that are reasonably significant when you consider what's involved from the factory standpoint.”

The MC Sportline retains the GranTurismo’s signature front-mounted naturally aspirated 4.7-litre V8 that generates 338kW at 7000rpm and 520Nm at 4750 rpm, with power sent to the rear wheels.

While it was initially believed the Italian car-maker would roll out the Trofeo nameplate for the new variant, that moniker is likely to turn up on a limited edition version of another Maserati model soon.

Inspired by the top-rung GranTurismo MC Stradale, the MC Sportline adopts its vented alloy bonnet, darkened headlights and black 20-inch forged alloys.

Inside, the front seats score carbon-fibre back pieces, while the entire cabin is trimmed in Poltrona Frau black leather and Alcantara, and double-stitched in alternate colours.

The two-car MC Sportline line-up replaces the Sport model pair in Maserati’s local range and like the outgoing version, both new cars feature self-shifting transmissions. One option is equipped with a ZF six-speed auto, and the second has Maserati's significantly different MC Shift robotised manual.

The regular auto is bolted directly to the V8, while the MC unit is a transaxle that requires the use of a different set of mechanical components throughout the chassis, as well as more carbon-fibre trim panels inside the cabin.

Released in 2010, the GranTurismo has gone against the trend for sports coupes, which typically shed sales in their latter years, recording its strongest sales to date in 2014. It sold 75 cars in 2014, with 10 percent being the MC transmission variant.

“We’d like to do around about 80 in a year,” said Mr Sealey. “It doesn't sound much but in that end of the market, that's quite significant. Ultimately, the aim is to keep a classic car like that fresh.”

If the car succeeds locally, Mr Sealey expects that other territories will add it to their respective rosters.

“It's a great example of how we can get something quite unique for this market.

I imagine if it’s successful here, you see it rolled out in other markets,” he said.

The Maserati GranTurismo MC Sportline is available now, and will go on sale for $295,000 with the six-speed automatic transmission – a price reduction of $13,000 over the outgoing Sport auto – and $319,000 with the MC robotised manual gearbox, which is a whopping $26,000 cheaper than its Sport counterpart.

The MC Sportline sits in rarefied air in the Australian marketplace, with supercars as varied as BMW’s new i8 at $299,000, the V8-powered Audi R8 4.2 FSI and Aston Martin’s similarly ageing V8 Vantage at $251,700.

However, Mr Sealey believes that Maserati sits in a unique position in the market.

“Maserati has always been exclusive,” he said. “It's always been about performance. It’s always had a great sound, of course. There's always been a real level of craftsmanship to the interiors. The design has always been beautiful, and they have always been made in Italy. Never made anywhere else.

“In a global market that we have today, you could be producing, as many brands do, an outstanding German product in South Africa, Thailand, China, anywhere in the world, Maserati chose to stick to their guns. They are absolutely authentic. Everything is made in Italy. I think it's an absolute credit to them and I would say there's value in that.”

Maserati Australia expects the bulk of the MC Sportline's sales to come from the more conventional automatic variant.

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