Maserati MC20 supercar revealed with epic looks and 621 horsepower
Maserati's new mid-engined supercar is a much-needed shot of modernity for this storied brand. It'll spawn an EV, too.
Tim StevensFormer editor at large for CNET Cars
Tim Stevens got his start writing professionally while still in school in the mid '90s, and since then has covered topics ranging from business process management to video game development to automotive technology.
There's a fine line between a brand with strong heritage and one that's maybe getting just a little bit stuffy. Lately,
has been slipping dangerously close to that latter category, but today, with this car, that could all change. Making its debut Wednesday, the 2021 Maserati MC20 is the Italian automaker's first new supercar in 16 years, an all-important shot of modernity for a company in desperate need of something fresh and new.
Maserati MC20 Concept is vaguely futuristic
The MC20 is a very different thing from 2004's Ferrari Enzo-based MC12. Much more demure, for one. Designed and engineered in-house, it has an understated, modern supercar look that we're quite fond of. The MC20 is arguably a bit plain, especially compared with the MC12, but there's also something vaguely futuristic about it, with really only that gaping nose giving a link to other Maseratis on the road -- well, that and the cheeky trident cut into the rear decklid (which isn't our favorite styling cue, if we're being honest). The MC20 is also very different than the recently departed GranTurismo Coupe, which was larger and more of a grand tourer.
The MC20 is a marriage of artistic design and aerodynamic sensibilities, and Maserati thoughtfully color-coded those different elements. The parts of the car that are white? That's where the designers made the final call. The darker parts along the bottom? All driven by efficiency and performance. That white, by the way, is called Bianco Audace, or "white boldness," which Maserati says was designed to "evoke the gleam of quarried marble, struck by the light of a Mediterranean sunset."
Watch this: Maserati's MC20 is going Ferrari hunting
The body of the car is simple and clean, with neither a giant wing hanging off the back nor a splitter protruding from the front. Vents and intakes are kept to a minimum, with the most aggressive visual component, the rear diffuser, cloaked in raw carbon fiber.
All that wraps a custom carbon monocoque tub developed with race-car chassis expert Dallara. Interestingly, the chassis was designed to support three versions. The first is the coupe you see here, while a retractable hardtop Spider flavor is coming next. The third version will be electric, making room for batteries in the same basic layout, with only the layout of the carbon filaments changing. No ETA on that, though.
MC20's new Nettuno engine and McLaren-baiting price
The initial coupe will get a 90-degree, twin-turbo, 3.0-liter V6 making 621 horsepower. Maserati says this engine, called Nettuno, is fully new, and we can't help but think the engineers were targeting that power figure. That's exactly the same power output as the MC12, though it needed twice the cylinders and displacement to achieve it. While forced induction is the major driver of that increase in relative output, the company also credits what it calls Maserati Twin Combustion. It's a sort of precombustion chamber that helps for more efficient combustion within the engine.
Power gets to the rear wheels through an eight-speed, dual-clutch transmission and a mechanically locking rear differential. The weight of the entire package is 3,306 pounds, which Maserati says gives it a best-in-class power-to-weight ratio. What class is it? Well, with a starting price of $210,000, we're talking things like the epic McLaren 570GT. Strong competition, to say the least.
The suspension is a dual-wishbone setup front and rear, with a semivirtual steering layout designed to reduce scrub angle and increase steering feel and response. The brakes are Brembo carbon ceramic units with six pistons at the front and four at the rear.
MC20's interior is both minimalist and accommodating
The interior of the MC20, accessed via doors that open the right way, strikes a blend between race-focused minimalism and the needs of day-to-day motoring. This is best seen on the steering wheel, which the marketing release says features "only essential" buttons and controls. Somehow, launch control and cruise control make the cut. The mode dial, however, is relegated to the center console.
Dual, 10-inch displays serve as the gauge cluster and infotainment system, powered by Android Automotive, like on the new Polestar 2. This software will give easy access to all your smart home needs while also providing a clean, simple user interface, here rebranded as Maserati Touch Control Plus MIA. MIA, by the way, is Maserati's Intelligent Assistant. Yes, another smart assistant for your modern world.
Maserati promises almost 5.3 cubic feet of storage in both a trunk and a frunk. That's small, yet a big step up from the MC12, which didn't even have a trunk. It's also yet another sign that the MC20 is a very different car, something intended for daily use, something that'll be as good to drive on the road as it is on the track.
And the track is a very key component here, with the MC20 release promising the car will "take Maserati back to the world of racing." That is excellent news for sure, but it seems we'll have to wait a little longer for the details of where and when. We're similarly in the dark about how much this beauty will cost or when lucky fans of the trident might be able to bring one home. We certainly hope we'll see a few more of these than we did the MC12. Maserati only ever built 50 of those for the road.