The 20 in its name represents the year 2020, but as we found out after a day with it in Rome, it could as well represent the 20 in the score for perfect vision.
‘Would you like to stay an extra day and drive the MC20?’ ‘Yes, of course.’ ‘It won’t be on the track like the GT, but just in and around Rome.’ ‘Sure, that’s perfect actually.’ You see we had already driven the MC20, but only on a track in Malaysia, so a chance to drive Maserati’s supercar out on public roads was just perfect for a review. Besides, who in their right mind turns down an offer like this; so, as suggested, after driving the new Maserati GT, I stayed back for a day with the MC20.
Maserati MC20 exterior design
If you’ve read the Maserati GT review in our March issue, you’ll know it was a very wet day, but today, just 24 hours later, it was a nice bright and sunny day matching the bright yellow paint on our test car. It’s a looker for sure with classic and gorgeous Italian curves shaping the top, whereas the bottom has sharp chiselled edges. Maserati says the edges are on account of the lower portion being the business end of the car tasked with a lot of the aero work. To highlight this duality in its design, the top is painted whereas the lower end consisting of the grille, front splitter, side skirts and diffuser are carbon-fibre black.
Carbon-fibre tub and butterfly doors really amp up the supercar quotient.
Carbon fibre is also the choice of material for the passenger tub to which aluminium subframes are attached at the front and rear for the suspension and the mid-mounted Nettuno V6 motor. And that motor is what I was most keen on exploring. I had already experienced driving the new GT Trofeo the day before where beneath that long bonnet it puts out 550hp; here powering a supercar it belts out 630! Any way you look at it, that’s simply colossal coming from the twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6.
Maserati MC20 powertrain, performance
After having cut the Ferrari cords, Maserati developed the Nettuno, their first powertrain in more than 20 years, and gave it their all, packing in some complex F1 tech. The cylinders are banked at 90 degrees and each has a pre-combustion chamber in addition to the main chamber. Both chambers have their individual sparkplugs which can fire together or separately. There’s also a twin-injection set-up which uses direct injection as well as an indirect port injection system.
Maserati says the entire set-up enables them to meet emissions and efficiency targets while still belting out a stellar performance, which is a top speed of 326kph and a 0 to 100kph time of 2.88 seconds. Something I simply had to experience, but not before getting to smooth and clear roads.
It’s no Pavarotti, that would be the V12s, but the Nettuno V6 delivers a good operatic performance.
Yes, Italy has its share of bad roads, and where we picked up the MC20 from was far from perfect. The tarmac was stripped away in places and that meant a light right foot was in order. So the first mode I experienced was GT Mode. Yes, the MC20 has a GT mode, which, as I found out, was pretty darn good.
The engine dials down nicely, gears upshift early and the ride is similar to the Maserati GT, if not better perhaps, and while in the GT I felt it could have been supple, for a bonafide supercar, it was just fine. In total, there are five modes: Wet, GT, Sport, Corsa and an ESC Off mode. Going from GT to Corsa, the dampers get firmer, but in each of these modes you can use the soft-damper button to bring it one step down.
Maserati MC20 ride, handling
After a short while in GT mode, the roads opened out and it was time to let the Nettuno sing. And sing it does – not to the operatic level of the famed Italian V12s, but it’s still very enjoyable. Sport and Corsa are wild and the gearshift in the latter very rapid and very sharp, adding to all the drama. Get busy with the throttle and the acceleration is instant; it’s easy to get the rear end out of line.
Unsurprisingly, traction control comes in quickly to sort out the herd of wild horses scrabbling for grip at the rear wheels. I was soon hitting high triple-digit speeds and running out of road even sooner, so short bursts were the order of the day or at least till lunch by which time we were on the highway and able to sustain high speeds and it’s brilliant. It pulls strongly and, at any point, it’s easy to go even faster, so long as you don’t dial it down to GT mode where a change in pace comes in gently, in keeping with the GT theme.
From GT to Corsa mode, it is surprising how much the MC20 can alter its charcter.
Interestingly, the drive modes don’t alter the steering feel and that was just fine, it’s well-weighted – perhaps on the lighter side – but nice and accurate, and you will enjoy it along with the expectedly sharp handling. It’s also playful in Corsa mode, which keeps engine boost maximum, suspension the stiffest, ESC loose and an extremely sensitive pedal.
I was very easily getting the tail to peak out, sometimes, unwittingly so. Which is why out on public roads I found myself using Sport most often, it’s nice and quick but manageable, with just the right amount of aggression to keep you entertained. That’s down to the mapping, which keeps a mid-level engine boost but a low-resistance, high-sensitivity pedal setting and a fast gearshift. It’s really surprising how much the MC20 can alter its character from GT to Corsa mode.
Maserati MC20 interior
What was also surprising was how comfortable the insides were – the seats cosset you nicely and the driving position is sporty and comfy. The theme inside is also sporty but simple and, frankly, it was quite refreshing. It’s got none of the wild, over-the-top supercar-like styling, just simple curves covered in Alcantara and carbon fibre lending it a nice classic feel, taking you back to a time when cars were more analogue.
Far from OTT, the insides are simple but nice and sporty with a clever use of Alcantara and carbon fibre.
Of course, there are digital bits like a switchable reverse camera and rearview mirror – handy as visibility from the rear view mirror is pretty much nothing – and there are digital infotainment and IP screens, but somehow, they don’t dominate the cabin. There’s a glovebox, a cup holder and a small cubby below the centre armrest, and while we’re on the topic of storage, there’s a front and rear trunk too. So for a supercar, it’s all pretty neat and surprising.
Maserati MC20 verdict
After spending a day with the MC20, I was very smitten indeed. The car looks gorgeous, drop-dead gorgeous, it’s fast, proper supercar fast, and yet it can stretch its legs and relax like a GT. And there’s even practicality you won’t find in many exotics. Maserati were struggling just a few years ago, but with the MC20, it announced a new vision for its future and much like our test car’s paint shade, its future appears nice and bright too. Now we only have to wait for Maserati to bring and shine some of the light here.
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