Maserati is currently on a revival path that has seen the launch of a new halo car in the form of the pretty MC20, its first supercar in 15 years since the MC12 went out of production in 2005. The MC20 is just the start of a process to rejuvenate the Italian carmaker’s line-up, with the Grecale as well as an all-new GranTurismo and GranCabrio also involved.
The trident brand was first founded on December 1, 1914, meaning it will turn 108 years old come December. To ensure its continued survival, Maserati is reinventing itself with a subtly revised logo and to preach the message that it has attractive new offerings on the way.
One way to appeal to a wider customer base is to provide a hands-on encounter with the cars, which is precisely what the company is offering with its Master Maserati Driving Experience. Traditionally, the event is held in Italy at the Varano De’ Melegari and Autodromo di Modena circuits, providing those attending with the opportunity to the drive the most powerful Maserati models.
However, in a break from tradition, the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) in Malaysia played host to the Master Maserati Driving Experience recently, marking the first time the event is held outside of Italy. We were given the opportunity to attend the event to try out a selection of cars with chief instructor Andreas Fausti flying in from Italy to tame our inner Fangio.
The brainchild responsible for bringing the Master Maserati Driving Experience outside of Italy is Takayuki Kimura, who was appointed managing director of Maserati’s Asia-Pacific region last July. The goal was simple: to demonstrate the unique balance of performance of Maserati cars. For this, the star of the show was undoubtedly the MC20, with two units specifically brought into Malaysia and joined by the Levante SUV.
The day began as most driving courses do, with Fausti explaining the basics like the importance of seating position, pedal control and how to properly take a corner on track. Balaclava and helmet on, our first time on track was in the MC20.
With 630 PS and 730 Nm of torque from a 3.0 litre twin-turbo V6, the MC20 is nothing short of rapid on the two main straights of SIC. Through the corners, it displayed impressive balance and agility that inspired confidence, with the experienced instructor seated beside urging me to push on.
Lap after lap and with a constant rotation of drivers, the pair of MC20s in their stunning shades of Blu Infinito and Giallo Genio remained composed and continued to deliver on track, leaving big smiles on those that exited through the dramatic butterfly doors.
The next stint was in the Levante Trofeo, a big SUV with a 3.8 litre twin-turbo V8 churning out 598 PS and 730 Nm, which isn’t that far off from its sleek stablemate. There is certainly a contrast on track with the Levante, but it still managed to hold its own on track and deliver some surprises in the bends, disrupting what some might think an SUV is capable of. The howling V8 adds to the theater of it all, particularly when barrelling down to turn 15 and continuing to turn 1.
While this isn’t a full-on track day where we were given unlimited laps, the short but sweet experience left us (and probably the customers that came after our media session) wanting more, which is precisely the purpose of the Master Maserati Driving Experience. The event serves as the perfect platform for would-be customers to audition cars before committing to being a member of the Maserati family.
Based on the Master Maserati Driving Experience website, entry fees range from 900 to 5,000 euros (RM4,200 to RM23,336). Our session is the GT level that sits just above the entry-level Engine Start, while beyond that, you’re looking at more intense courses like the Sport and MC20 Master, the last of which teaches participants how to bring out the most from the MC20, with and without driver aids.
We were told that Maserati has more of these activities planned for the future, and with the line-up set to expand in the coming months and years, there’s certainly plenty to look forward to from the trident brand in our part of the world.