2006 Maserati Coupe Cambiocorsa 2dr Coupe
Practical Exotic Car
The most affordable Maserati has a tight but useable backseat and trunk to complement sexy styling and exhilarating performance.
by Jim Gorzelany and Matthew de Paula
It may not have an imaginative name, but Maserati's Coupé remains an alluring two-door with scintillating performance to match its sensual styling by noted design firm Italdesign-Giugiaro.
2005 Maserati Coup?
As with most exotic cars produced in small numbers, the Coupé hardly changes year to year. For 2006, it gets a larger grille and two-tone interior color schemes. A new limited-edition Vintage package ($4,320) features details meant to evoke classic Maseratis, including light-blue instrument dials in the style of the company's '50s race cars, 19-inch polished wheels, silver brake calipers, aluminum brake and accelerator pedals, chrome mesh front and rear air intakes, chrome exterior door handles and chrome side air outlets.
The four-seat Coupé is Maserati's base model but is anything but basic. Its 4.2-liter V8 uses variable valve timing and electronic drive-by-wire throttle control to generate an impressive 390 hp and 333 pound-feet of torque. It launches the car from zero to 62 mph in 4.9 seconds and on to a staggering top speed of 177 mph.
Estimated fuel economy of 12 to 13 mpg city/18 to 19 mpg highway draws a $3,000 gas-guzzler tax.
There are two trim levels that differ only in their transmissions: the Coupé GT comes with a manual six-speed and the Coupé Cambiocorsa, which adds $4,244 to the car's price, comes with an electronically controlled sequential-manual six-speed that is operated by paddles behind the steering wheel and has a fully automatic mode.
The six-speed manual is the transmission of choice for purists. While the sequential-manual Cambiocorsa gearbox does offer a measure of novelty and flexibility, the automatic mode isn't particularly smooth in operation. This transmission does, however, include a "hill holder" function that automatically engages the brakes for a few seconds on an incline as the driver moves his or her foot from the brake to the gas pedal. Because complex transmissions like Maserati's Cambiocorsa are relatively new in production vehicles (as opposed to race cars, where they've been used for some time), their resilience and reliability remain to be seen.
While even the most aggressive drivers won't be disappointed with the Coupé's firm suspension that enables razor-sharp handling, an optional continuously variable Skyhook suspension ($2,500) improves ride quality and comfort. It has two driver-selectable modes: Sport and Comfort. Eighteen-inch wheels are standard; 19-inch wheels are optional and pricey at $2,480 to $3,775 a set.
Those looking for the ultimate in sporty handling can upgrade to the Maserati GranSport, which is a tweaked version of the Coupé with a lowered suspension, aerodynamic improvements and other minor differences. A convertible version, the GranSport Spyder, is available for sunseekers and sacrifices the Coupé's rear seats for its folding fabric top.
A richly appointed and well-crafted leather interior coddles occupants with supportive power-adjustable sport seats. It blends classic and modern styling beautifully. The driver faces traditional analog gauges, while at the center of the dashboard is a 5.8-inch color video monitor that controls the audio, ventilation and other systems. It can also be used to operate the optional GPS satellite-navigation system ($2,030), hands-free telephone module and CD changer ($725).
The interior is spacious for an exotic sports car. Getting into the backseat can be challenging, but two small to medium-size adults can comfortably fit in the rear for short- trips. The trunk will swallow two golf bags or a custom, five-piece fitted luggage set ($2,500).
Maserati sells only about 2,000 cars annually. For those who feel the Coupé isn’t glamorous or exclusive enough, the company’s Officine Alfieri Maserati program offers limitless customization of interior materials and colors, exterior paint and various other custom-made accessories, such as the fitted luggage.