Maserati MC20 : First look

Maserati MC20 : First look

Maserati is back with their first proper sports car in many years, marking the dawn of the “Maserati New Era” – and petrolheads breathe a sigh of relief. The last decade has been frustrating for many fans of the iconic Italian racing marque as they concentrated on building sales volumes with the introduction of more executive cars and an SUV rather than supercars.

Maserati presents the MC20, an engineering and styling masterpiece that opens a new era for the Trident brand. With the MC20, Maserati returns to a stage where it has always starred, that of Supercars that combine luxury and performance with the unique Maserati Style

The MC20 in numbers

  • 2.9 seconds to 62 mph (100 km/h)
  • 6 cylinders – twin-turbo V6
  • 8.8 seconds to 125 mph (200 km/h)
  • 20 years since Maserati last built their own powerplant
  • 200+ mph top speed (Roof Up)  
  • 621 bhp
  • 1,470 kg – Maserati claim best in class power/ weight
  • Prices starting from £187,000
Maserati MC20 Magnitude Finance

Performance

It’s difficult to get truly excited about the performance figures of any new supercar these days because long before the press embargoes are lifted we all know that the numbers are going to look great – and the MC20 is no exception. Sub-3 seconds to 60, 200 mph, oodles of turbo-generated torque.

Broadly speaking it’s in 911 Turbo S performance territory -but with rear-wheel drive – and comes with all the usual e-diff, adjustable suspension trickery. Maserati claims it has class-leading power-to-weight.

MC20 stands for “Maserati Corse 2020” , and the name recalls the mighty MC12 which restored Maserati Corse, a name linked to racing throughout its history, to the world’s circuits after a 47 year hiatus. Maserati are clear that the MC20 is designed for the circuit and we will see it racing – only time will tell if it can hold it’s head high in the face of the competition.

Design

Maserati’s recent designs have been elegant but subtly striking, and the MC20 is no exception. Designed in the wind-tunnel to keep the design as clean as possible, the MC20’s body is refreshingly free of added aerodynamic assistance – it’s a great looking car which unsurprisingly recollects the form of other mid-engined supercars, but at the same time is recognisably Maserati. The butterfly doors will delight owners and onlookers, as will the Maserati Birdcage Concept-inspired rims. If you loved the Maserati MC12 or you’re looking for something a little bit different, then this is almost certainly the car for you.

MC20 Butterfly doors

Inside, it’s predictably driver focused: clean and uncluttered – we like it.

Technology

The technology behind the MC20 is almost certainly more important for the brand than it is for prospective customers.

The MC20 design was produced in around 24 months (half the time of the Aston Martin DBX), with a team of Maserati Innovation Lab engineers, technical specialists from the Maserati Engine Lab and designers from the Maserati Style Centre using the Virtual Vehicle Dynamics Development system, which includes the use of one of the world’s most advanced dynamic simulators. This was developed in-house and allowed almost all dynamic testing to be done virtually, optimising development times. The car was then fine-tuned on road and track.

It has an identical carbon fibre chassis for the three configurations planned: coupe, roadster and electric, so we’re going to see plenty more MC20s.

We’re proud of starting to make our own engines again after twenty years, but also aware of the responsibility this implies. We have to persuade people we’re really good, so good that Maserati has decided to stop buying engines from Ferrari, and to build them in-house instead.

Dario Benazzi – Maserati Engine Design

The “Nettuno” twin-turbo V6 powerplant is the first to be produced by Maserati themselves in over 20 years and features patented technology previously only found in Formula 1. 100% made in Modena, it is currently the highest-powered 6-cylinder powerplant in production. Currently. It’s billed as lightweight, compact and powerful – perfect for the job at hand – but probably the most crucial factor will be how it sounds. Will it stir the soul in the same way the brand does for so many enthusiasts? We’ll let you decide.

The MC20 comes with adjustable driving modes, Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes, an 8-speed DCT gearbox and optional lifting system & Sonus Faber audio. It even has a cool digital rear-view mirror

Why V6, not V8?

It’s the way things are going – emissions, budgets and packaging for hybrid and electric powertains have killed the V8. Maserati set the target outputs (power, torque etc) and once “we knew we could reach those targets with a V6, after several loops of virtual simulations, we went ahead with that, because a V6 is shorter than a V8, weighs less and costs less: so it’s smaller, lighter and also more economical”. It just sounds (and feels?) less good, right?

Back to racing

“Racing is an integral part of Maserati’s genetic make-up and MC20, heir of the multiple victorious MC12, will bring the Brand back to the racing world”

Nuvolari, Fangio, Ascari, Moss, Brabham, Phil Hill, Surtees and Pedro Rodriguez are just some of the names of the drivers who won Maserati success on road and track. These included four Targa Florio wins, two victories at the Indianapolis 500, 9 Formula 1 wins, five FIA GT Championships for the Maserati MC12 and one Formula 1 World Championship. Maserati certainly has fine racing heritage – will the MC20 be able to deliver more success, and more importantly breathe its previous vigour back into the brand?

Verdict

It looks like Maserati have big plans for the future, and the MC20 is the first car of their new era. But given the restrictions now placed on all supercar manufacturers, is the timing really right for anyone to (re-)enter the sports car market – especially one with so much expectation balanced on their illustrious heritage. We like the looks, we’re not sold on any V6 and the pricing is an issue with much better value cars available.

This could be to Maserati what the second generation NSX was to Honda’s supercar program – the difference is, it’s a Maserati. And it’s new.

Images courtesy of Maserati GB