Two of the most evocative brands in the GT sector have upped the ante – but will Maserati’s trident see off the leaping cat of Jaguar?
The Italian firm’s MC Stradale is the lightest, fastest and most expensive GranTurismo yet. It is inspired by the Maserati Corse Trofeo race car, and represents the pinnacle of the line-up. A modest power hike takes the 4.7-litre V8 to 443bhp, while the Stradale weighs 110kg less than a regular GranTurismo. Knowledge gleaned from the one-make race series has also been used to devise new suspension settings and improve the steering.
Video: we put the Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale through its paces on track
Looming large in the Maserati’s door mirrors is the new Jaguar XKR-S. It doesn’t have the motorsport pedigree of the MC Stradale, but is cheaper to buy and more potent. With a whopping 542bhp and 680Nm of torque, the supercharged Brit has the raw power, as well as the stylish looks, to compete in the super-coupe sector. But is this most expensive XK of them all good enough to beat a genuine slice of Latin exotica?
Both of these cars are sure to excite the senses. They’re fast, sound amazing and raise a smile every time you get behind the wheel – yet they have very different characters. The Jaguar XKR-S provides astounding performance, but the dynamic improvements over its XKR stablemate are subtle. It’s still great fun to drive but it lacks the race-inspired feel of the Maserati. This is what sets the Stradale apart from the rest of the GranTurismo range. Its glorious V8 thrives on revs, while weightier steering, superior traction and stronger brakes provide the dynamic edge. A flawed automated gearbox and dated cabin are its major weaknesses. Picking a winner will depend on your outlook. If you want the most rounded GT, the Jaguar is the car to buy. But if you want the most thrilling, charismatic and focused derivative – and we do – then the Maserati takes a narrow victory.
1. Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale
The Stradale is a GT car with added focus rather than an out-and-out road racer – but we think that’s a good thing. It stands out from the rest of the range, sounds great and is engaging to drive, without being intimidating. While it’s flawed and costly, if you want a less explosive or more user-friendly experience, buy the GranTurismo S auto.
2. Jaguar XKR-S Coupe
We think the XK flagship should have a harder edge. The new S is great fun and packs a serious punch, while its long haul credentials are undiminished. The problem is, you can already experience most of this in the more affordable XKR... A fine effort, but not the best XK.