The grand tourer that brought Maserati back into business

Although it has created exciting sports cars for the road ever since it gave up racing in the 1950s, Maserati struggled to survive on many occassions. The 1973 oil crisis nearly killed Citroen, which had purchased Maserati in 1968, while the early 1990s saw the Chubasco mid-engined sports car cancelled due to financial issues and the introduction of front-engined, six-cylinder cars, a rather awkward layout for the brand. Things did go well under Fiat ownership either, but it finally took a turn for the better in 1997, when the majority stake was sold to Ferrari, Maserati’s long-time arch-rival. Under Ferrari ownership, Maserati developed the Coupe, which replaced the 3200 GT, forged in the De Tomaso era, for the 2002 model year.

Credited for bringing Maserati back into business, the front-engined grand tourer was build between 2001 and 2007 in both Coupe and Spyder guises. It also spawned a more aerodynamic and powerful model called the GranSport, as well as a Trofeo race car. The latter used many stock parts and marked the beginning of the Trofeo Maserati, a one-make series that’s been running continuously since 2003. The Coupe was replaced in 2007 by the GranTurismo, a grand tourer that’s still being produced at the company’s factory in Modena.

Although it may not have the cachet of the original Ghibli, the Quattroporte, or the Bora, the Coupe was a crucial car for Maserati, helping relaunch the brand as one of the most important luxury, high-performance automakers. And that’s exactly why we decided to have a closer look at this mid-2000s grand tourer.

Continue reading to learn more about the Maserati Coupe.

  • 2002 - 2007 Maserati Coupe
  • Year:
    2002- 2007
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V8
  • Transmission:
    6 Speed Manual
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    390 @ 7000
  • MPG(Cty):
    13
  • MPG(Hwy):
    18
  • Torque @ RPM:
    333 @ 4500
  • Energy:
    Gas Engine / Electronic Fuel Injected
  • Displacement:
    4244 cc
  • 0-60 time:
    4.9 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    177 mph
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2002 - 2007 Maserati Coupe Exterior
- image 9291

Styling-wise, the Coupe was an evolution of the 3200 GT. Also designed by Giugiaro’s Italdesign, the Coupe shared most of its body panels with its predecessor at first glance. However, several new details can be spotted upon closer inspection, starting with the bulged engine hood, which signaled that the grand tourer was powered by a larger engine. The front fascia also received a slightly larger grille, a mildly revised apron, and additional turn signals.

When viewed from the side, the Coupe had very few features to set it apart from the 3200 GT

When viewed from the side, the Coupe had very few features to set it apart from the 3200 GT. Changes included new mirrors, reshaped side skirts, revised door handles, and slightly altered rear haunches. Not exactly surprising given that the wheelbase remained unchanged at 104.7 inches and that the overall length increased by only 13 mm (0.4 inches).

It was the rear section that gained the most significant change, in the form of brand-new taillights and a revised apron. The 3200 GT’s slim, arched taillights were replaced by more conventional units placed outside the trunk lid. Additionally, the Coupe no longer had the tiny red lamps in the bumper.

Interior

2002 - 2007 Maserati Coupe Interior
- image 99760

Just like the exterior, the interior was also an evolution of the 3200 GT’s design. The entire dashboard plus the steering wheel were carried over, but Maserati made notable changes to the instrument cluster and the center stack. The latter featured a new infotainment system that combined audio and climate controls, but the extra switches and knobs made it rather cluttered compared to the 3200 GT. The center console gained only a mild updated, but the door panels were redesigned and sported a more premium appearance. Naturally, the cabin was packaged with leather and soft materials, and even optional carbon-fiber and wood trim.

The options list also included a GPS navigation system and hands-free GSM phone, and upgraded audio system and CD changer, electrochromic rear view mirror, rear parking sensors, seat heaters, and cruise control. Maserati also prepared a number of interior trim packages for the Coupe, including a leather headliner featuring a grosgrain pattern, and either a carbon-fiber or or Briar wood bundle for the steering wheel, door trim, and shifter. Custom Maserati luggage made to match the car’s interior was also available.

Drivetrain

2002 - 2007 Maserati Coupe Drivetrain
- image 99763

Under the hood, the Coupe was completely different from the 3200 GT. While its predecessor had a twin-turbo, 3.2-liter V-8, the new grand tourer received a naturally aspirated, 4.2-liter V-8 co-developed with Ferrari. Dubbed F136 R, the said engine was the first in a long line of Ferrari-Maserati powerplants. These were used in all Maserati models since 2002 and a range of road and race Ferraris, including the F430, California, 458 Italia, and 458 Speciale. The latest revision of the F136 engine is still being used in the current GranTurismo.

The Coupe came with 385 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of tap, a 20-horsepower improvement and a 40-pound-feet reduction compared to the 3200 GT

The Coupe came with 385 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of tap, a 20-horsepower improvement and a 40-pound-feet reduction compared to the 3200 GT. The V-8 mated to a six-speed manual transmission available either as a GT with a stick shift or Cambiocorsa with paddle shifters. The gearbox was located at the rear of the vehicle and was integrated in with the differential, giving the Coupe a 48/52 weight distribution between the front and rear axle.

Performance-wise, the Coupe needed 4.8 seconds to hit 60 mph from a standing start, while its top speed was estimated at 177 mph. These figures made it about three tenths quicker than the 3200 GT and about three mph faster, a significant difference given the fact that the Coupe was nearly 180 pounds heavier than the 3200 GT.

The grand tourer had a light alloy, double-wishbone suspension and a computer-controlled damping system dubbed "Skyhook." The system used coil-over shock absorbers and a set of six accelerometers that continually monitored the movement of the wheels and car body and sent all the information to a control unit. The vehicle’s computer analyzed the data and adjusted each shock absorber accordingly. This technology is standard in every sports car in 2016, but it was quite innovative back in the day.

Stopping power came from vented Brembo disc brakes with four-piston calipers. Driving stability was provided by Maserati Stability Program, which included anti-slip regulation traction control (ASR), motor spin regulation (MSR), electronic brake force distribution (EBD), and anti-lock braking system (ABS).

Prices

The Maserati Coupe was priced from $77,875 at launch. This sticker was available for the GT version with a stick and clutch pedal. The Cambiocorsa variant retailed from $81,875. In 2016, used Coupe models fetch between $15,000 and $40,000 depending on mileage, condition, and options.

Competition

Jaguar XKR

2007 Jaguar XKR
- image 84094

Launched in 1996 as a replacement for the outdated XJS, the XKR was very similar to the Coupe in terms of size, output, and even styling. Much like its predecessor, it had a long hood and short decklid and was also available as a coupe and convertible. In 2003, a year after the Maserati Coupe went on sale, the supercharged XKR received a facelift consisting of minor styling changes and a revised engine. The 4.2-liter V-8 generated 400 horsepower and 408 pound-feet of torque through a six-speed automatic transmission. The sprint from 0 to 60 mph took 5.2 seconds, while top speed was rated at 155 mph, both figures inferior to the Maserati’s, despite the extra output. The XKR’s pricing was similar to the Coupe, set at $81,330 before options for the 2002 model year.

Find out more about the Jaguar XKR here.

Porsche 996 911

1998 - 2004 Porsche 911 Carrera (996)
- image 27105

When the Coupe arrived in 2002, Porsche had introduced the 996-generation 911 and was already working on the 997, which would go on sale for the 2005 model year. The 996 was the first 911 to feature a new platform since the original car and the first 911 to use a water-cooled engine. The standard Carrera models received a 3.6-liter flat-six rated at 315 horsepower, the Turbo arrived with 414 horses, while the Turbo S had 444 horsepower at its disposal. The base model needed 4.9 ticks to hit 60 mph, while the Turbo S achieved the same benchmark in an impressive 3.9 seconds. Top speed was rated at 178 and 193 mph, respectively.

Read more about the Porsche 996 911 here.

Conclusion

2002 - 2007 Maserati Coupe Exterior
- image 99758

The Coupe and its Spyder sibling arrived at a difficult time for Maserati. Things weren’t going well and with the outdated, fourth-generation Quattroporte retired in 2001, Modena had only the Coupe and Spyder in showrooms until 2004, when both the fifth-gen sedan and the Ferrari Enzo-based MC12 went on sale. The Coupe not only saved the brand from going under, but also market its return to naturally aspirated engines and the beginning of a successful collaboration with Ferrari. It’s difficult to imagine what would have happened to Maserati without Maranello’s helping hand, but we do know for a fact that awesome MC12 and GranTurismo would’ve never existed. The Maserati Coupe might not be a classic, but it was the brand’s most important vehicle since the De Tomaso - Fiat "merger" of 1989.

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    • * Mild exterior update compared to the 3200 GT
    • * No match for the Porsche 911 Turbo
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