The 2022 Maserati MC20 marks a return to glory

The 2022 Maserati MC20 is not tied to any Ferrari. Or, for that matter, any Alfa Romeo, or Fiat, or Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep. It’s a machine in its own right, with its own purpose-built engine and carbon fiber monocoque, and it heralds a new era of independence for Maserati. Not from the Stellantis empire, but from its own muddled recent past, when a Maserati’s exhaust note might remind you of a Ferrari, but its instrument cluster would say Dodge Dart. The MC20 is a pair of dihedral doors pointing skyward, towards Maserati’s new ambition.

The MC20 is what you might call an entry-level exotic, with a base price of $215,995 and a list of options that can push the price beyond $300,000. It’s powered by a 621-hp twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 which Maserati boasts is the most powerful production six-cylinder in the world, conveniently forgetting the Porsche 911 Turbo S (640 horsepower), the Ferrari 296 GTB ( 654 horsepower), and Ford GT (660 horsepower). The upcoming McLaren Artura hybrid also has a V-6, so it looks like we’re entering a golden era for six-pot performance, provided you have at least a few hundred bucks to spare.

HIGHS: Gives 207.6 horsepower per liter, model specific engine and interior, looks absolutely right.

Big engines should have their own name, and Maserati did just that by nicknaming its 3.0-liter “Nettuno,” which means Neptune in Italian. It uses a patented pre-combustion design that gives each cylinder two combustion chambers, each with its own spark plug. It is a turbocharged, dry-sump design that is oversquare and built to run. Power peaks at 7,500 rpm and its 538 lb-ft of torque is available from 3,000 rpm. This fierce little engine is linked to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that drives the rear wheels. While the McLaren and Ferrari V-6s are hybrids, Maserati plans to skip that step and offer the MC20 as an all-electric version – its carbon tub is designed to accommodate coupe, convertible and electric variants. For now, however, the MC20 is pure internal combustion. And it’s not shy about it.

From the driver’s seat, this engine plays a singular soundtrack. There’s the heavy breathing of the turbos mixed with an angry blat from the exhaust and the distinctive sound of combustion. There’s no Alfa-style howl here. At constant acceleration, the Nettuno emits an angry gurgling sound that almost sounds like a detonation, which is presumably those clever, patented dual combustion chambers at work. Just when you thought you’d heard all the sounds an engine could make, here comes Maserati with a new one.

Open the throttle wide and that gurgle is subsumed by many other noises, like the blood pooling in your ears as your body is squashed into the Sabelt seat. The MC20 scurries to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, a time that reflects those initial moments when launch control fights to keep the 305/30ZR-20 Bridgestone Potenza Sport rear tires from going up in smoke. Once hooked up, those 621 horsepower come into their own, with the quarter mile clocking in at 11.0 seconds at 131 mph. It’s cliche to say that a car’s passing power feels like being run over by a dump truck, but that’s really what it feels like when you slam the throttle hard on the move. in the MC20. The transmission downshifts instantly and violently, then you’re heading into permit-losing speeds. In our 50-70 mph acceleration test, the MC20 took just 2.4 seconds. The feeling is that there is no slack in the system – until you step on the brakes and see the pedal almost go all the way to the floor before the pads really bite into the carbon rotors – $10,000 ceramic optional. Since this is a brake-by-wire system, we’d suggest Maserati sacrifice some of that easy modulation in the name of increased immediacy.

LOWS: Weighs a lot more than it should, cable brake system needs tuning, it’s a V-6, why?

As with its drag-strip performance, the MC20’s grip also suits a car that looks like it’s coming off the Circuit de la Sarthe grid, posting 1.08g on the skid. But that number, along with those for acceleration and braking, would likely have been better had the car weighed anywhere near Maserati’s claimed weight of “less than 3307” pounds. Our scales put the MC20 at 3757 pounds, which is 450 pounds over Maserati’s figure. Granted, the MC20 is a deceptively large machine – at 183.8 inches long, it’s an inch and a half longer than a Chevrolet Corvette – but that’s still plenty of weight for a rear-drive car with a tub. carbon fiber and a small V-6. Maybe Dallara, who feeds the vat, needs to extract a few more gallons of resin before hitting the old autoclave. We will try to weigh another MC20 at some point to see if this one might have been an early production anomaly.

Whatever the scales say, the MC20 certainly doesn’t feel heavy. It offers four drive modes – GT, Sport and Corsa, plus a Wet mode – and the first three range from aggressive to downright antisocial. A button in the middle of the rotary mode selector allows the driver to independently soften the suspension, so the powertrain can be in Sport mode while the suspension remains relaxed, perfect for attacking real roads. Corsa mode is probably best left to the actual tracks (among other things it opens the exhaust active at all times) unless you need access to launch control, which can be toggled from the steering wheel.

While the MC20 has its practical side, with a rear trunk that can fit a few sports bags and a front trunk big enough for the owner’s manual and some light contraband, it’s not a GT car. The interior is sleek but austere, tied to the racing car vibe that sets in as soon as you open the corner door. The roofline is low, with a single wiper sweeping across the windscreen – probably not as effectively as a pair of them could be, but it looks extremely cool doing it. The view to the rear is also compromised by the low slope of the roof, the tiny rear window casting reflections that cause the mirror to show the view ahead of you rather than behind. Luckily, the mirror also has a video mode, when you need to know if there are any police explorers on your bumper before jumping into hyperspace.

The standard six-way power sports seats are comfortable for multi-hour stays, and the 10.3-inch touchscreen is a good conduit for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Our test car was treated to minimal interior trimmings other than a $4,000 Sonus Faber sound system and upgraded leather and Alcantara ($1,000), but it still looked high. quality and, above all, like nothing else in the Stellantis portfolio. No climbing here and saying, “Oh yeah, like that Jeep Compass I rented last year.”

Which is normal for a car that costs $260,045 according to the tests. Yet Maserati promises that the MC20 is not an abstract halo car, but also a harbinger for the more accessible models. We certainly hope so. Whether Fiat-Chrysler’s sale of Ferrari in 2016 will ultimately be good for Maranello remains to be seen, but it certainly looks good for Maserati, which is now free to build cars like this. If Ferrari doesn’t like it – and they probably don’t – well, too bad for them. But the MC20 is great for the rest of us.



Maserati MC20 2022
Vehicle Type: Mid-Engine, Rear-Wheel Drive, 2-Passenger Coupe, 2-Door

Base/as tested: $215,995/$260,045
Options: carbon-ceramic brakes, $10,000; 20-inch forged wheels, $5,500; carbon fiber engine cover, $5,000; Blu Infinito paint, $4,500; black roof, $4,000; front axle lift, $4,000; Sonus Faber sound system, $4,000; electronically controlled limited-slip differential; $2300; red brake calipers, $1,200; upgraded leather and Alcantara interior; $1,000; Trident sewn into the headrest, $900; auto-dimming exterior mirrors, $650; heated front seats, $500; sports steering wheel with carob fiber inserts, $500

V6 twin-turbo and DOHC 24-valve intercooler, aluminum block and cylinder heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 183″32992cm3
Power: 621 hp at 7,500 rpm
Torque: 538 lb-ft at 3,000 rpm

8-speed dual-clutch automatic

Suspension, front/rear: multi-link/multi-link
Brakes, front/rear: 15.5″ ventilated carbon-ceramic disc/14.7″ ventilated carbon-ceramic disc
Tyres: Bridgestone Potenza Sport
F: 245/35ZR-20 (95Y) MGT
A: 305/30ZR-20 (103Y) MGT

Wheelbase: 106.3″
Length: 183.8″
Width: 77.4″
Height: 48.1″
Passenger volume: 48 feet3
Cargo volume: 5 feet3
Curb weight: 3757 lbs.

100 km/h: 3.2 sec
100 mph: 6.5 sec
210 km/h: 10.9 sec
1/4 mile: 11.0 sec at 131 mph
240 km/h: 15.4 sec
The results above omit a 1 foot rollout of 0.2 s.
Rolling start, 5-100 mph: 3.7 sec
Top speed, 30-50 mph: 2.0 sec
Top speed, 50-70 mph: 2.4 sec
Top speed (manufacturer claim): 202 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 149 ft
Braking, 100–0 mph: 291 ft
Handling, 300 ft ski slope: 1.08 g

Observed: 14 mpg

Combined/City/Highway: 18/15/25 mpg


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