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Maserati goes racing with its hot 3200GT

Extreme performance: The Assetto Corsa has been modified with racing-spec suspension, brakes and tyres.

Maserati is targeting club racers with the Assetto Corsa

Maserati logo20 Jul 2001

MASERATI has injected the 3200GT with a slice of its racing heritage to create the limited edition 3200GT Assetto Corsa.

Unveiled at this year's Melbourne motor show, the first examples of the newcomer rolled of the ship from Europe this week and are priced at $207,500, which is a $15,000 premium over the regular 3200GT.

At this stage only six cars will make it to Australia as the UK Maserati importer snapped up the bulk of the allocation from the factory. However, Maranello Imports - the Australian Maserati importer - is currently negotiating to bring in further examples of the limited edition model as all six cars have already been sold.

Maserati has released the "extreme" performance version of the 3200GT in response to owners seeking higher levels of road holding and stopping power.

"We regularly hold drive days for the owners to learn and get the most out of their cars, but we've found that as they get more confident they want to go to the next level," Maranello Imports national sales and marketing manager Herbert Appleroth said.

"So this model is in anticipation of what they wanted rather than in response to what our competition was doing."For the extra money, Maserati has given the "cooking" 3200GT a substantial under the skin makeover. The Assetto Corsa comes with an electronic adaptive damping system - optional on the 3200GT - that is similar to the system used by stablemate Ferrari on its 360 Modena and Spider models.

Stiffer springs and shock absorbers have lowered the ride height by 10mm at the front and 8mm at the rear, while the diameter of the front anti-roll bar has been increased.

The Assetto Corsa rides on soft compound Pirelli P-Zero Corsas that look more like grooved slicks than road tyres. They are mounted on new 18-inch BBS alloy wheels and are controlled via a modified steering rack that is said to give more precise steering feel.

The braking system has also been upgraded with racing specification Pagid RS421 brake pads, which work on the existing four piston aluminium callipers and ventilated cross-drilled discs. In true Italian style, the callipers are painted bright red.

The twin-turbo V8 engine has not been touched as part of the performance package though, with power and torque outputs remaining at 271kW and 491Nm respectively.

The Assetto Corsa is only available with a six-speed manual transmission and comes in three colours - traditional Maserati racing red, light silver and dark silver.

On the inside, the 3200GT's Connolly leather interior has been retained but the hide is now perforated. Drilled aluminium pedals and "Assetto Corsa" wording engraved into the sill kick panel continue the racing-inspired theme.

While the price tag pitches the car at Jaguar's similarly modified XKR with R Features model, Maserati believe it takes the performance aspect to an even higher level.

"Philosophically it's not really a competitor for us, because ours is more tuned for a race-type situation rather than something to make it more sporty," Mr Appleroth said.

"We see the XKR with R Features as a competitor for the standard 3200GT, whereas this is more a gentleman's version of the Porsche GT3 as it still has all the luxury inside but obviously the power and performance to work on the racetrack.""One of our customers, who already owns a 3200GT, has purchased the Assetto Corsa to use on the track in club racing, allowing him to keep his road car for just that."In other Maserati news, the first official pictures of the 3200GT-based Spyder will be released next week as a sneak preview to the official launch at the Frankfurt motor show on September 11.

The car is due to make its Australian debut at the Sydney motor show in October, before going on sale here before the end of the year. It will be more expensive than the 3200GT coupe, which means $200,000 plus.

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