The launch of a mid-engined supercar is supposed to be special. In the case of Maserati, it truly is. The Modena-based manufacturer’s 107-year history features countless front-engined cars that are equal parts impressive and beautiful. However, mid-engined machines are few and far between. Before the launch of the new Maserati MC20 back in 2020, it had been 16 years since the Italian carmaker sold anything with an engine in the middle. So when its halo car arrived not only to draw interest towards the brand but to also announce its return to racing, it was and still is a big deal.
It’s been nearly two years since that announcement, and the hype doesn’t seem to have died down. However, as I began to rack up miles, the MC20’s true character shone through. It represents the pure essence of what a mid-engined supercar should be, stunning to look at, engaging to drive, and outrageously expensive. However, don’t let its seductive curves and sleek styling fool you. The MC20 is no track star. It’s not the car you’d want to chase lap times with. Instead, Maserati’s latest creation is the car that takes a beautiful day, a curvy road, and rewards you with endless smiles as you empty its tank, and if my hunch is correct, Maserati is only getting started.
2022 Maserati MC20 Design/Styling
In my earlier list of what a mid-engined supercar should be, I mentioned looks first for a good reason. Think back to the last decade and all the new supercars we’ve seen. You’d certainly call most of them impressive, especially with their various aero elements and clever engineering. However, very few manage to cement themselves into your brain long after their fifteen minutes of fame are up. Innovative engineering pleases the brain and our endless need for stats to justify whether or not a car is good. However, stunning looks pull at the heartstrings, which stick long term. It’s why there’s been such a growing interest in 80s and 90s supercars as of late. People want to drive something that makes them feel good.
The Maserati MC20 then is a fresh take on a modern supercar. Look around, and you won’t find any aggressive aero elements sticking out and commanding attention. According to Maserati, this is intentional. Instead of attaching a big wing on the back and calling it a day, the Italian carmaker opted to work all the clever aero tech into the car’s design. So while it may have a pretty face, it’s still functional. Take the front end, for example, where the brand’s signature trident logo and central grille serve to channel air toward the car’s various cooling elements and the front brakes. However, it does so without leaning on aggressive cutouts. Whether functional or not, every aspect is sleek, almost as if functionality took a back seat as the looks department went mad.
The same goes for the sides of the MC20. Maserati could’ve easily fitted it with two enormous side pods that would likely channel more air to the mid-mounted engine, but it didn’t. Instead, we get simple intakes just behind the door handles and along with the car’s darkened side skirts. These necessary evils look seamless and don’t distract the eye from the rest of the design. Additionally, they all flow well together, giving the MC20 a cohesive and balanced look.
The rear is perhaps the most exciting part of the entire design. In photos, it looks relatively tame, almost simple. In person, however, the MC20’s restraint is much appreciated. There’s a giant central diffuser perforated by two exhaust tips featuring various outlets hidden in the darker elements. Two long lines adorn the MC20’s tail lights, visually widening the car while keeping the theme of sleekness. The lack of sharp lines throughout the car’s bodywork will play well long term. There’s nothing on its exterior that dates it. It doesn’t seem to conform to current trends. Instead, the MC20’s looks highlight precisely what it is, a fresh take on a winning formula. If people aren’t already looking at you wherever you go, the MC20 has butterfly doors to ensure you get all the attention you could ever want.
Next on my unofficial list of what makes a mid-engined supercar is an engaging drive, and the MC20 nails that, with certain exceptions. Powering it is a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 developing 621 horsepower and 538 foot-pounds of torque. Before the spec fiends complain about its lack of a V8, I’m glad there isn’t one. For starters, V6s are on-brand for Maserati. One of its first mid-engined vehicles, the Merak, was powered by one. Secondly, it has serious weight advantages. The MC20 has a curb weight of under 3,300 pounds, which likely wouldn’t have happened with a larger engine bolted to its spine. Lastly, the MC20’s V6 tells us a lot about the brand’s future as it’ll make an appearance in future models such as the upcoming Grecale, cementing the brand’s commitment to creating exciting machines for years to come.
On the road, the twin-turbo power plant doesn’t disappoint. It allows the MC20 to hit 60 mph in less than 2.9 seconds on its way to a 202 mph top speed. With peak power coming in at 7,500 rpm, you have to work for it, although thankfully, you get torque at a relatively low 3,000 rpm. The MC20’s power delivery feels reminiscent of McLaren’s turbo setup. Plant your foot down, and there’s a split second of lag before the engine comes alive and rockets you forward. Thanks to its eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, the MC20 feels about as fast as anything else, delivering properly terrifying straight-line speed. However, you won’t hear much of it from the cabin. Instead of a compelling exhaust note, the MC20 rewards you with boatloads of turbo noise. While it’s not as loud as I had hoped, the added noise is welcomed as I feel the engine breathing just behind me.
To cope with its straight-line speed, the MC20 offers an excellent set of carbon-ceramic brakes. These Brembo’s do a great job taming the Maserati without fading after repeated heavy use. There is plenty of good pedal feel, and it doesn’t take much pedal travel to get a proper response.
Despite all of that power going to the rear wheels, the MC20 puts it down. Traction is not a problem in a straight line, even in its most aggressive mode with stability control disengaged. However, the MC20 is eager to dance through the corners. Push it to 90 percent of its capabilities, and the MC20 comes across as incredibly approachable, remaining flat, stable, and composed even through the tightest bends. Push it beyond that, and you see some of its limitations. The front end doesn’t have as much grip as expected, and the rear becomes twitchy. I opted to slow things back down because the MC20 doesn’t require crazy speeds to be an engaging drive. It’s plenty happy at 80 percent, delivering enough excitement to get your heart racing without fear of running off the side of a mountain.
Suspension-wise, the MC20 features adaptive dampers with varying stiffness levels across various driving modes. The car starts up in GT mode, the most conservative and comfortable. Not online is the suspension softer, but the car’s computer changes its power delivery to make it easier to handle around town. Sport is next up and my personal favorite. In this mode, you get all the power you could ever want with a suspension that still feels like it has some give in it. Corsa sets the MC20’s hair on fire. Stability control vanishes, and you get max power and full stiffness. It works on a perfectly smooth road with little bumps to upset the car. However, on a poorly maintained one, its stiffness becomes a real problem as it unpleasantly vibrates the whole cabin.
While the MC20 isn’t the all-out track star it could’ve been, I’m glad it’s not. Instead of saving all the fun for when you’re at the absolute limit, the MC20 rewards you at all speeds with a truly engaging drive. It has excellent bones. You can feel that its carbon-fiber chassis is a good one from behind the wheel. The MC20 is Maserati just getting warmed up, if I had to guess. While we already know that a convertible and fully electric version of this supercar is on the way, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a track-focused variant in the future. For a company that doesn’t make mid-engined machines often, they’ve done a great job with this one.
2022 Maserati MC20 Interior/Tech
Step inside the Maserati MC20, and you’ll find a surprising amount of interior room. At 5’10 and one too many pounds, I sat pretty comfortably behind the wheel. While the driving position is slightly higher than I would like, there’s excellent visibility through the MC20’s big windows. Headroom isn’t an issue either, allowing even taller drivers to drive without a problem. Maserati did a great job with interior spacing. I would have no problems grabbing a passenger and setting off on a long road trip.
Tech-wise, the MC20 is simple but effective. Inside you’ll find a pair of 10.25-inch screens. The first in front of the driver neatly displays all the information you’d ever need and changes its graphics as you move through the drive modes. The second screen lives in the center of the dash and features Maserati’s infotainment system alongside Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. While I’m partial to the smartphone-based systems, Maserati’s native OS was intuitive and easy to use. I didn’t even miss the physical buttons in the interior. Everything is right where you’d expect it to be within the system.
Maserati did a great job with its choice of materials. From various leather surfaces and suede inserts, the MC20 is covered in premium materials. However, the cabin feels a bit spartan. There isn’t as much padding across these various surfaces leading some of them to feel quite stiff. In this aspect, the MC20 leans more toward a proper supercar than a GT.
2022 Maserati MC20 Pricing
The last thing I mentioned a proper supercar should be is outrageously expensive, and the Maserati MC20 certainly can be. It is by far the most expensive machine the brand makes, with a base price of $215,995. However, as tested, we’re a bit past $260,000. At this price point, the MC20 falls right in the crosshairs of the Lamborghini Huracan, McLaren GT, and Porsche 911 Turbo S.
As we’ve established, it’s not the quickest option in its segment, nor will it lay down the fastest lap times or deliver the best on-limit performance. However, none of that matters for those of us in the real world. The MC20 nails what counts. It is the textbook definition of what a supercar should be. It has unforgettable looks, a driving experience that makes you feel alive, and a price tag to match. Plus, we can’t forget that this is this model’s first iteration. If this is Maserati’s first effort returning to the mid-engined supercar segment, what comes next is sure to be truly special.