The model was more than just a shortened version of the 3200 GT. In fact, the Maserati Spyder debuted the all-new normally-aspirated 4.2 litre V8 engine which would be fitted to the new Coupé GT the following year. Developing 390 hp at 7,000 rpm (over 90 hp/litre), it rocked to a top speed of 280 kph (174 mph) and lightning-quick acceleration.
The styling was a direct derivation of the 3200 GT penned by Giugiaro, but the wheelbase was much shorter as the car was intended strictly as a two-seater with roll hoops behind the headrests. The shorter wheelbase was clearly intended to further enhance the handling qualities of the chassis and make the Spyder extremely agile and versatile. New taillights were dictated largely by customer surveys in the USA, where Maserati returned with the Spyder in 2002.
Mechanically-speaking, the changes extended well beyond the engine with a revised chassis, new transmission and gearbox. In true sports car fashion, the new gearbox/differential unit was mounted in a transaxle layout. Inside the car, the center console now hosted the “Maserati Info Center”, a 5.8 inch colour display which acted as a user interface for the trip computer, sound system and automatic climate control. A GPS navigation system was optional.