Fast times at Maserati in the new MC20

  • The all-new MC20 carbon fiber engine packs 621 horsepower and 538 pound-feet of torque in an all-new twin-turbo V6, the first all-wheel drive from Maserati in 20 years.
  • The car is a long, comfortable and fun scream for getting around the racetrack.
  • It is also the first example of the company’s new design approach and a new way of organizing and presenting the entire Maserati range of cars.

    The new Maserati MC20 is more than just a great Italian supercar. though. With a fluid good looks, 0-60 mph “under” 2.9 seconds and a top speed “above” 202 mph, it ticks the boxes where you didn’t even know you had boxes.

    But it is more than that. The MC20 marks a new era in the 108-year-old company, and what promises to be a very fast one, based on our many laps around the big track in Willow Springs (“Fastest Road in the West!”) as well as a short drive on relatively real streets.

    “This is the first iteration of the product renaissance that we are ready to embark on,” said Bill Beaver, Maserati’s new CEO of North America.

    Three colors are available on the new MC20.
    Maserati

    product renaissance? Does this mean all Maserati cars will have 621hp mid-engine V6s wrapped in carbon fiber? No, it means that some of the design elements you see in the MC20 will carry over to other Maseratis: a new emblem, those vertically integrated headlights, a new “light and refreshed” Trident.

    “The actual oval logo, we removed the red from that,” a Maserati product specialist said during a tour of the car. “The flag of Bologna used to be red, white, and blue. Now it is just a two-tone cream and a dark blue.”

    Every part of the leading role of this new two-seater.

    “It’s the aura of the brand,” Beaver said. “It’s competition in a sector that lifts our brand. Our sales have gone up significantly in 2021. We are not talking about specific numbers, but we are over 50% from the previous year.”

    Maserati also does things differently now. Absolute numbers, which the company doesn’t release anyway, aren’t the goal.

    “We focus on profitable volume and customer experience,” Beaver said. “There are two things we did that were kind of cool for 2021. We’ve done mid-cycle updates to all of our products and made V8s available in all of our current lineups, including the Ghibli, so we have V8s across the range in the Trofeo model lineup for 2022.”

    This means you can get a 580-horsepower Trofeo with a 580-horsepower V8 in everything: Ghibli, Quatroporte and Levante. Something seemingly mundane like stock has also been simplified.

    “We simplified the lineup,” Beaver said. “Dealers have ordered all of their cars, so production is more in line with demand. We’ve changed the mix to match where the market is. We’ve focused on (the cheapest) Gran Turismo and sedans. We don’t sell (many) Grand Turismos. Now what we’re doing is that Our base car is a Levante (SUV), and that’s great because it’s a precursor to bringing in the Grecale (a smaller SUV meant to compete with the likes of Porsche’s Macan), which, with its two-car SUV lineup, will allow us to legitimize us as a luxury SUV brand. Our lineup has been simplified into three series: We had plenty of value with the GT, which features a 345-hp V6 across the range; the Modena, which is our focus, with 424-hp and sporty elements; and then the Trofeo, which is A 580 horsepower V8 engine. So before, we weren’t consistent with this lineup. Now it’s easy for dealers to sell value in every series of customers we seek. And we’ve really succeeded.”

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    Now, you might think that the Levante SUV would be the biggest seller, as is every other luxury performance maker that offers an SUV, but it wasn’t.

    “The Levante has been out since 2017. It wasn’t the flagship car that the franchise had, it was the Ghibli, so we focused on that, and spent some dollars on that.”

    Was Ghibli a bigger seller because it was more profitable?

    “I think the Ghibli was more familiar, and it was more in line with our 100-year-old brand. Quattroporte is synonymous with the brand, it’s been around since 1963. I think customers have gotten in tune with buying sedans and we said, ‘Wait a minute here, if the market’ Moving on to SUVs, we have this SUV (the Levante), and we’re “going to bring out a second SUV (Grecale), so why don’t we focus on that?” And so we did. We didn’t do it through incentives, we just did it with our marketing and influencers to get the name out there. And that’s the name of the game, Generate Awareness. Everyone loves the Maserati brand. But familiarity with certain models is declining very rapidly. And so we made some investments in Levante to change that.”

    So how is Maserati going to get the word out about all the cool cars and SUVs in the lineup?

    “I think it’s multi-faceted. The first thing we do is, you know, we focus on our big markets: We sell a lot of cars in the Northeast, South Florida and Los Angeles, those are our biggest markets. And we’re looking at places where there are opportunities in other parts of the country. We can grow it. We work closely with our dealer body to improve the customer experience but improve the representation we have in order to generate more awareness in the cars. But then we do things like this, we talk to our media partners, we show our cars, we do events Riding and driving like this. We’re trying to track down with a car like that.”

    The cabin has plenty of room for adults and/or tall people.
    Maserati

    Ah yes, a car like this.

    The MC20 is something amazing, a resplendent jewel of the new Maserati icon. As such, it’s either the sportiest Gran Turismo ever, or the most comfortable sports car you’ll ever want. Maserati calls it a super sports car, which is a good thing.

    It’s built around a carbon fiber monocoque with aluminum front and rear frames to mount the engine at the rear and suspension at both ends. The body panels are a mixture of a plastic composite and a carbon fiber composite, according to engineer Giovanni Pirona. Unlike the MC12, which was a remodeled Ferrari Enzo, the MC20 is entirely from Maserati, throughout.

    The car runs on a custom-made Bridgestone, size 245/35 front and 305/30 rear. While similar to the tires on the Huracán STO, they are custom built for the MC20, developed at the Bridgestone facility in Poland and tested on tracks in Belanco, near Turin, Italy, and at the Nardo Ring.

    It’s either the sportiest Gran Turismo ever, or the most comfortable sports car you’ll ever want.

    Meanwhile, the twin-turbo V6 is called the Nettuno, a name derived from the statue of Neptune in a square in Bologna, Italy, the city where Maserati was founded, before the company was moved to Modena. Nettuno is the first Maserati engine in 20 years. All the engines interlocks are made by Ferrari, which is not a bad place to get your engines. The Nettuno is seated longitudinally behind the cockpit. The combustion chambers include direct injection and a negative leakage box which together Maserati calls dual combustion, with double sparks to double the explosion. In all humility, Maserati describes the V6 engine as a “technological gem”.

    Next, there’s the DCT eight-speed transmission and electronically-operated limited-slip differential, in that order. Finally, the MC20 weighs “less than” 3,300 pounds by SAE standards, as promised by Maserati.

    does it work? You bet your sweet Babu.

    We were lucky enough to take several laps around the big Willow Springs track, where you can get really fast at the Turn 8 entrance and along the front straight. More luck came in the form of GT3, LMP2, LMP3 and Maserati Trofeo driver Patrick Byrne, who rode in the passenger seat and gave high-speed guidance around this storied track. What does Byrne think of the MC20?

    “I really like it,” he said. “It’s more like a go-kart.”

    In fact, the first thing I noticed while I was driving it was the steering ratio, which Perona said was a fast car racing ratio of 12:1. That took a little getting used to, as did the carbon ceramic brakes which, although pleasantly progressive, It was not hindered by reinforcement.

    The MC20 wasn’t too loud, and it wasn’t too rough around the somewhat bumpy Willow nine turns. The electronic chassis control was set to “Sport” mode in my drivetrain, which was more forgiving than the “Corsa” or “off”. A while ago, I had run into this very track in a Lamborghini Huracán STO, which is set on a Corsa. That was a slightly harsher experience, and when I suggested that Lamborghini should have set the STO for Sport, I was politely dismissed.

    I think I was spinning much faster in the MC20 than I did in the Huracán, and not just because of the suspension setup. The Maserati had plenty of headroom for my outrageously long trunk, while the Lamborghini were built for short Italian Formula 1 drivers. The MC20 is also far more comfortable than any McLaren I’ve driven, from the MP4-12C through the Sienna. I admit that anyone who lacks a real driver like Berne can go faster and have a better time doing it in a Maserati than any of the competitors. As for the Porsche equivalent? The last I drove was the new Turbo, which compares favorably with the MC20 in most classes, with 572 hp, a 0-60 mph time of 2.7 seconds and a top speed of 199 mph.

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    But today it was not all MC20. To get to and from Willow, Maserati loaned me a 424-horsepower Ghibli Modena Q4, which I was driving back on the Angeles Crest and the Angeles Forest Freeway. I have to say I totally enjoyed it both ways. While the response in the Ghibli hasn’t been immediate and isn’t quite as precise as in the BMW M5 CS I I drove recently, the price of this car is much higher at $142,000 than the Ghibli. You can get the Ghibli Modena Q4 starting at $85,300 and the Ghibli GT for $78,000.

    And you can get a Maserati MC20 starting at a perfectly reasonable $212,000, though the MC20s I drove ranged in price from $256,050 to $315,550, but those had things like a carbon fiber hood, racing seats, and many more. Other options are $5,000. Surely you have a 212 Grand sitting in an offshore account somewhere, right? Hey, do you have 212 other big ones too? I’ll pay you back once my Lira account is frozen, I swear.

    Share your thoughts on MC20 and everything Maserati In the comments section below.

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