Maserati MC20

Welcome back Maserati

Maserati is coming back with a bang. A 630 horsepower bang called MC20 that promises to give old rival Ferrari something to worry about.

Well, with confinement slowly giving way to some normalcy, I can book cars again and will have fresh road tests to write about very soon. But not this week I am afraid.

While I was deciding what to write about, amidst the endless flow of emails I get every week from media departments, two of them stood out. They were both from Maserati and regarding quite different subjects. One spoke about Maria Teresa de Filippis, the other the Maserati Bora’s 50th birthday.

Those are two subjects that interest me, and I thought I would mention them to introduce Maserati’s latest masterpiece, a car I honestly didn’t think they would ever come up with.

But let’s start at the beginning. Maserati is a brand steeped in history, even if that history means narrowly escaping bankruptcy a few times. Once the greatest name in Formula One – Fangio won in a 250F in 1954 and 1957 – Maserati also became the first outfit to enter a woman in competition. Her name was Maria Teresa de Filippis.

When she was 22 years old, she beat the competition at the Salerno-Cava de Tirreni sports car road race and this led to a string of entries that showed she could compete with the best.

In 1953/54, she won a number of races, including the 12 hours of Pescara, the Trullo d’Oro and the circuits of Syracuse and Caserta.

In 1958, she made her debut on the F1 world championship at the wheel of a Maserati 250F, the first woman ever to do so – a record that she will hold forever.

Although she never won at F1, her skills and tenacity earned her the respect of the racing community.

She quit by her own will after too many of her friends had crashed and died, but not before leaving an indelible mark on racing in general and Maserati in particular. In the early Sixties, the Bolognese marque was churning out some of the most beautiful cars in the world and they just kept them coming all the way into the Seventies – when the Bora arrived.

The Bora was the first Maserati with a rear mid-engine layout. Penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro, arguably the most relevant car designer of the 20th century, it was meant to be a mix between sports car and grand tourer, boasting a 4700cc V8 producing 310 horsepower, independent suspension all-round, as well as disc brakes and telescopic dampers. Old-fashioned it was not.

The Bora lasted until 1978, with 564 units produced and it is one of the most sought-after classics in the brand’s catalogue; prices have reached €150,000 and some collectors are already asking north of €200,000 for low-mileage examples.

The Bora is the perfect excuse to introduce the new MC20, Maserati’s latest mid-engine model and a car that wants to leave a mark in the same mold the Bora did 50 years ago.

The MC20 is the Trident’s new halo car, spearheading a revolution that aims to establish Maserati as the flagship luxury name in the newly-formed Stellantis – the automotive giant spawn from the merger of the Fiat-Chrysler and the PSA groups. The MC20 is also the first Maserati in 25 years to have absolutely nothing to do with Ferrari in any shape or form, arriving with the first powertrain it has produced in-house in more than two decades.

Named Nettuno (Neptune), in reference to the Roman God who inspired Maserati’s trident logo, the all-new twin-turbocharged V6, developed at the new Maserati Engine Lab in Modena, has a capacity of 3 litres and develops 630hp at 7500rpm. It also features the new Maserati Twin Combustion twin-spark ignition system, arguably the most advanced in the world.

Transmission is an eight-speed dual-clutch auto, sending power to the rear-wheels alone with the help of a self-locking mechanical limited-slip differential. An electronic diff is optional. The MC20 makes extensive use of carbon-fibre and other lightweight materials to achieve a kerb weight of 1500kg. 0-100km/h is dealt with in under 3 seconds, whereas maximum speed nudges 350km/h.

Butterfly doors introduce a minimalist cabin that unashamedly screams racing. Spectacular bucket seats and controls located on the steering wheel say as much. A 100-litre boot at the back and a 50-litre at the front give it some practicality, but the MC20 is more of a weekend toy than a true grand tourer.

Maserati have allocated production to their historic Viale Ciro Menotti plant in Modena, where they have developed a new, world-class line where the Granturismo and Grancabrio were built.

In 2022, a convertible version is set to hit the market, probably at the same time as a full-electric alternative. Maserati cannot ignore the trends that are guiding the world and even super sports car have to embrace the transition from petrol to electricity.

For now though, let’s enjoy the fact such a great name as Maserati have given us something as special as the MC20. No, it is not for everyone at €300,000 but feels good to know it exists. I bet Maria Teresa would absolutely love it.

By Guilherme Marques

Maria Teresa de Filippis with Juan Manuel Fangio and Jean Behra, Monaco GP, 1959
Maserati Bora, Salone di Ginevra, 1971
Maserati MC20