Words: Calvin Chan
Published: September 9, 2020
The Maserati stable has been a bit of a stale affair in recent years. With just a pair of sedans, one SUV, and an archaic sports car, there was little other than history and a storied badge to inspire enthusiasts. Every brand needs a halo car. Porsche has their 911. BMW has the M5. And Honda has the Civic Type R. Each has been scrutinizingly updated over the years to keep emotions high, and dreams even higher. Good thing then, that Maserati is about to get theirs, with the recently unveiled MC20. MC stands for Maserati Corse in Italian, or Maserati Racing, and 20 stands for this year of 2020.
A direct descendant of the wild MC12 that was essentially a homologated version of the legendary Ferrari Enzo, the MC20 is a smaller, mid-engined sports car that appears more of a spiced up Alfa Romeo 4C than a Ferrari 488. You can see the inspiration of the MC12 in its deep shoulder lines, front grill mounted low near the ground, and a chiseled rear end focused on maximum downforce. This is the first Maserati to utilize butterfly doors that swing upwards, much like a Mclaren 570S and Lamborghini Aventador.
Inside a similarly minimalistic yet sport-focused affair, with a liberal use of carbon fibre and Alcantara throughout. A pair of 10-inch screens are embedded into the dashboard, and by keeping up with modern standards, Maserati has equipped the MC20 with the full range of connectivity services such as Amazon Alexa and WiFi Hotspot. In fact, the entire design of the cockpit reminds me of the Alfa Romeo 4C, with its gear selector buttons mounted along the center console. Even the steering wheel is a clear lift from Alfa’s new Quadrifoglio models with identical buttons, and dials budding out the center cap. The paddle shifters are the same shape too. Not a bad thing in the slightest. Copy from the best, right? But clearly a missed opportunity for Maserati to create something more emotionally impactful for what is the spotlight of the cabin.
The star of the MC20 is its beating heart, the engine. Rather than borrowing an engine design from its former sister company, Ferrari, this new 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6, named Nettuno after the god of the sea, has been entirely developed in-house by Maserati, and features a V90-degree architecture and a dry sump, allowing it to deliver a healthy 621 horsepower and 538 lb-ft of torque. The MC20 will run that power through an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission with a mechanical limited slip differential, and should sprint from 0-100 km/h in 2.9 seconds. That should be more than enough to keep up with the rivaling Huracan and 570S.
Once you dig a little deeper into the specs, you will still notice that the Nettuno shares some internal designs with the Ferrari F154 V8 engine also used in the California T, as well as a six-cylinder variant in the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio. The Ferrari and new Maserati engine use the same bore and stroke, firing order, and even share a rev limit of 8,000 rpm. The V6 cylinder head of the Nettuno is unique though, and Maserati has introduced a feature based on Formula 1 technology called pre-chamber combustion. It’s not an entirely new idea but definitely one of the few applications on a production road-car. Using two spark plugs and both direct and indirect injection, the Nettuno V6 is able to run very lean but stay stable without knocking from the engine. Maserati says that with this feature, they can extract more power from the V6 and get better fuel efficiency numbers as well.
The MC20 aims to be incredibly lightweight, with an extensive use of carbon fibre resulting in a kerb weight of under 1,500 kg. There will also be a convertible variant later on, as well as an electric version, though details of both remain a mystery. The MC20 will also be Maserati’s ticket to get back to sports car racing. This is the street-legal MC20 you see in the photographs, but expect a spiced up version decked out in fancy liveries coming out soon.
The 2022 Maserati MC20 will be entirely built in Modena and should reach Canadian shores later next year. Pricing has yet to be announced, but we expect it to list over $200,000 CAD. Stay tuned to this space for more updates.