Maserati GranCabrio MC: One convertible too far?

Maserati GranCabrio MC front three-quarter viewFall may be on its way, but Maserati is releasing a new, hotter version of its GranCabrio. The GranCabrio MC will top Maserati’s convertible line, and feature enhancements from the GranTurismo MC coupe.

Like its hardtop sibling, the GranCabrio MC gets some styling tweaks to remind everyone of its sporting credentials. The jowl-like front air intakes and aggressive blacked-out lower rear fascia are taken straight from the GranTurismo MC, and actually add 1.9 inches to the length of the convertible.

Maserati has not officially confirmed the powertrain, but since the GranCabrio MC looks identical to the GranTurismo MC, and will perform the same mission, it seems likely that the two cars will also be the same under the hood.

That means buyers of the GranCabrio MC can expect a 4.7-liter V8 with 444 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque, gains of 11 hp and 15 lb-ft over the current GranCabrio Sport.

Since the GranTurismo MC is the top-of-the-line Maserati coupe, the GranCabrio MC will take on the same role in the convertible lineup. With that in mind, buyers should expect a significant boost to the current convertible’s $139,700 base price. The 2012 GranTurismo MC hardtop starts at $143,850.

The GranCabrio MC will be unveiled later this week at the Paris Motor Show. It hasn’t been officially sanctioned for the United States, but since Maserati already sells the MC coupe here, the convertible seems like a no-brainer. It will have to change its name though: the GranCabrio is officially known as the GranTurismo Convertible in the U.S.

Making the GranCabrio MC available might be obvious for Maserati, but it might not be an obvious choice for discerning buyers. A voluptuous, high-performance convertible seems appealing, but Maserati might have made this car too hardcore.Maserati GranCabrio MC rear three-quarter view

As a big four-seater, the GranTurismo is already more of a luxury GT car than a sports car. Maserati has tried to sharpen it with special models like the MC and Europe-only MC Stradale, with mixed results.

The foundation is already shaky, so chopping the roof off won’t help matters. Modern convertibles are very well-built, they’re never quite as stiff as their hardtop counterparts. Add to that the practical limitations of driving a high performance convertible (imagine flying a jet fighter with an open canopy), and the GranCabrio MC starts to seem less enticing.

Make no mistake, the GranCabrio is a great car: it looks amazing and can get its lucky occupants from place to place very rapidly. The GranCabrio/GranTurismo Convertible Sport already does those things aplomb, but the MC might be pushing the limits of this car’s skills.