Race cars aren’t normally adapted to work on public roads. There are a number of reasons as to why this is the general rule. The first is that race car engines don’t generally behave well in stop start traffic. They get built to drive at the limit, travelling to the supermarket to pick up groceries obviously doesn’t come close to that limit. Secondly, they tend to be rather uncomfortable. Stiff suspension, stripped out interiors, mandatory roll cages, you get the idea.
Why then, have two of the largest Italian supercar brands produced special edition versions of their cars that customers can buy and use on the roads? To answer that question, we took the Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale and pitched it against the Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Super Trofeo Stradale in the hart of Italy’s Supercar Valley. Which one would we prefer?
To start with, we must clarify that both our test subjects are based on their respective Trofeo series cars. The Maserati GranTurismo MC Trofeo shares its 4.7 liter naturally-aspirated V8 engine with the MC Stradale you see in the photos. It has the same 450hp power rating and similar exterior styling, if you take the front bonnet scoop and the rear spoiler out of the equation.
Similarly, the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo features the same 5.2 liter naturally-aspirated V10 engine as the Super Trofeo Stradale. It’s rated to an identical 570hp and the exterior styling is visually very similar, big wing included. In truth then, it appears more realistic to say that the race cars were adapted from road cars; The Lamborghini from the Gallardo LP570-4 and the Maserati from the GranTurismo S.
The first differences emerge when you take a look inside both cars and realise that they come better equipped than either customer race car. The Gallardo has it familiar dashboard, draped in alcantara and, if we are brutally honest, looking a little dated compared to the company’s more recent offerings. Of course, the carbon fiber trim pieces more than makes up for this.
The GranTurismo features the same sort of setup but with better equipment, balanced out by an insane button layout. It feels more like a grand tourer than a flatout racer. Yet with the racing harnesses and the lack of back seats it obviously isn’t as capable of a tourer as certain other models in the range. So, just from sitting inside the interior, you start to realise that both cars are neither race car nor flat out road car.
Externally, the changes are pretty clear. The Gallardo gets a new adjustable rear spoiler which dominates the profile. It produces less wind noise than you would expect, although we weren’t fully able to test its effect on handling, it does apparently add three times more downforce. Aside from the quick release engine hood, the only other external changes are the wheels which shed a further 13kg overall.
The Maserati receives more visual changes. It gets a new front bumper with what will surely become iconic air vents, taken directly from the MC racer. At the sides, the fenders get a new air duct designed to release heat more efficiently from the brakes. The bonnet features extra air vents, designed to cool the engine. The rear doesn’t get the same huge rear spoiler as the MC racer, although Maserati have fitted a new discrete bootlid spoiler. The exhausts have also been relocated to a more central location with a new diffuser and air vent setup.
It’s clear to see that the Maserati is the model with more changes. Essentially, the Gallardo Super Torfeo Stradale is an LP570-4 Superleggera underneath as it shares the same engine and running gear. This was always the plan as the Blancpain racer is near identical to that model. The Super Trofeo Stradale does get reinforced anti-roll bars and suspension mounts along with firmer shock absorbers. These are most noticeable when you have the gearbox in Corsa mode, its most aggressive setting.
By contrast, the MC Stradale features a series of weight saving measures. These reduce the weight by 110kg over the standard model which makes a difference to the handling, as do the Brembo Creamic Brakes. The suspension springs are also 80 percent stiffer which has a more noticeable effect on the feel of the car then the stiffer springs on the Gallardo.
The Maserati feels that little bit stiffer and firmer, riding harder on the tarmac. There’s also less of a difference between the most aggressive mode and the automatic mode. As you enter race mode the gearbox shifts down a few gears, reacts way faster to the gear changes and you notice the change easily but the ride, whilst firming up a little, does not feel as different as Corsa mode in the Gallardo. In the Gallardo, the entire characteristic of the car is altered. The shifts become very aggressive and the ride very stiff compared to the docile nature displayed in Auto mode.
The differences then, are highly noticeable, but not as you would expect. We found that the Gallardo Super Trofeo Stradale represents a more balanced package. It offers a refined smooth ride in Auto mode yet when the mood takes you, it is very capable of picking up the pace.
The MC Stradale has an altogether different feel. The ride has less flexibility about it, the difference between auto and race modes are not as defined and overall, it feels more like a compromised grand tourer. Of course, this isn’t a criticism. Maserati set out to create a race car for the roads, and they succeeded. The MC Stradale is a fantastic addition to the range. What’s more, we could listen to the soundtrack all day.
Both cars are extremely exciting prospects. They blend race car drama and design into a package that fans of both racing programs can enjoy. If we had to choose, it is a difficult one but the drama of the Lamborghini just edges it. We didn’t set out to find the best though, we simply wanted to examine the changes and see how close they brought each car to its racing family member. In that respect, the Maserati is the best example and it’s cheaper!