Maserati wants to be noticed, and its MC20 has been purpose-designed to attract attention. This all-new mid-engined super sports car signals the opening of a new era for the long-lived Italian brand.
Its existing line-up will be renewed, beginning with long-overdue replacements for the sporty Gran Turismo and Gran Cabrio models. Maserati’s range will also expand in 2021 when a compact SUV is added. There will be electrified versions of everything Maserati makes in future; plain hybrids, plug-in hybrids and EVs.
Maserati desperately needs to do something different. Global sales spiked in the 2017 following the launches of the Ghibli sedan and Levante SUV, but in 2019 Maserati sold fewer than 20,000 vehicles worldwide.
Though the MC20 won’t make a big contribution to Maserati sales, it is sure to add lustre to the brand’s image.
The car deliberately highlights Maserati’s technical capabilities and design skills. It’s powered by a hugely powerful twin-turbo V6 that’s all Maserati’s work. The central part of the car’s chassis is made from lightweight carbon fibre and the exterior is Italian automotive art.
And, from 2022, there will be an electric version. It will feature leading-edge EV powertrain technology, with three electric motors drawing power from an 800-volt battery pack. That’s double the voltage of the average EV battery pack and so far only Porsche has produced a car with this advantage.
The hardtop version of the MC20 just revealed at a major event in Italy will be followed next year by a folding-roof spyder model. Both will be powered by Maserati’s new twin-turbo V6.
Named Nettuno – Italian for Neptune, the trident-toting Roman god whose weapon inspired the Maserati badge – this high-revving 3.0-litre produces massive power for its size by adopting combustion chamber used in Formula One cars.
The engine is the first one designed, developed and manufactured entirely in-house by Maserati for more than 20 years. For the last two decades the company has used, with only a few exceptions, engines made by nearby Ferrari.
The Nettuno’s 463kW peak output, delivered to the rear wheels via an eight-speed double-clutch transmission, should make the MC20 a scary-fast car.
Maserati claims a 0-100km/h time of less than 2.9 seconds and a top speed of more than 325km/h. These numbers mean it will be a serious competitor for models from Ferrari, Lamborghini and McLaren.
“At least at first” the EV will be quicker still, a senior Maserati engineer says. With its motors driving all four of its 20-inch wheels, the electric Maserati will accelerate from 0-100km/h faster than the internal combustion version, which drives only the rear wheels.
Butterfly doors add an exotic touch to the shapely exterior of the MC20, but the looks aren’t just for show. It took thousands of hours in the wind tunnel to develop a shape that would generate road-hugging downforce without any obvious aero aids like rear spoilers.
Australian Maserati importer Ateco plans to bring the MC20, and the new-era models that follow, to Australia. But, for now, no firm arrival dates have been decided.