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In-depth reviews

Maserati MC20 review - Engines, performance and drive

Wildly fast and exciting to drive, Maserati has nailed the supercar brief with the MC20

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

Engines, performance and drive Rating

4.8 out of 5

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A mid-engined layout might be de rigueur in the supercar class, but Maserati has managed to deliver a unique driving experience from such a familiar layout, one that can stand on its own among some very talented competition.

It sounds strange, but you can almost describe it as being like a scaled-up Alpine A110. In GT mode especially it really flows with the road, yet remains precise, delicate and agile. The MC20 has lovely steering, too, with ideal weighting and a fast but not hyperactive response. If you’re particularly in tune with a car’s behaviour you might notice a slight difference in the way the open-topped Cielo steers, but the difference really is minimal, and the car’s composure isn’t affected by that hole in the roof.

But it can also do aggression, and with Sport and Corsa driving modes (as well as a milder Wet mode), you can ramp up that aggression as desired. In Sport, the car feels sharper and the engine becomes more responsive and more vocal. Switch to Corsa and the car grows horns, with a real savagery to its performance and agility.

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In the cars we’ve tested with the optional carbon-ceramic brakes there’s a little more pedal travel than we’d like, but they don’t have any problem shedding speed, and if you tune everything back to GT mode then the driving experience becomes almost serene. It’s certainly long-legged enough for touring, even if the 60-litre fuel tank might mean frequent stops and the rearward visibility, rear-view camera or not, can make manoeuvring tricky.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

As with most supercars, there is just one engine available in the Maserati MC20. Luckily, it’s a good one - a Maserati-developed 90-degree twin-turbocharged V6 it calls the ‘Nettuno’. With technology Maserati says is derived from Formula One, such as a combination of direct and indirect injection, and twin spark plugs for each cylinder, it develops 621bhp at 7,500rpm, and can rev to 8,000rpm, while Maserati quotes a hefty 730Nm of torque.

Nettuno might be a reference to the Roman god Neptune - the water god known for wielding a trident, like you’ll find in Maserati’s badge - but it might as well be a future destination, given the MC20’s rocket-like performance. Whether coupe or open-topped Cielo, the MC20 can sprint from 0-62mph in 2.9 seconds, and top speed is quoted at more than 200mph for both - the hard-top as “more than 202mph”, and 201mph on the dot for the Cielo.

But it’s the character and violence of the MC20’s engine that will really grab you, providing savage acceleration from almost any revs and in any of the dual-clutch transmission’s eight ratios. Response increases as you switch from the car’s standard GT mode first to Sport, and then to Corsa, but whatever mode you’re in, the engine delivers whooshes and chirrups while the gearbox has a surprisingly connected, mechanical feel. It’s not the most musical engine, but it certainly has a unique voice.

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