Patis Familiar Stellantis

Full Bora? We consider the new for 2021 MC20

Image: autoevolution

Butterflies arrive in many different guises – usually but not exclusively colourful – thumbnail to two large cupped hands in size, yet delicate, even when aggressive. Today, we cast our gaze upon one such farfalla, flying directly to some lucky devil you don’t know proudly carrying a new satin effect trident – the Maserati MC20.

According to lanky, charismatic German designer, Klaus Busse – in post for over five years now – their new supercar took twenty-four months to bring to fruition. A blend of technology and good old-fashioned honing skills brought about the car as a game of two halves.

The upper body being a product of initial fast sketches followed by in-depth projections and clay sculpting. Bereft of ugly wings or basking shark-aping openings is in part thanks to the exceptional attention to detail; over 2000 hours spent with chassis expert Dallara’s wind tunnel, combined with the ground-ward section of the car-attuned aerodynamics. The tub weighs less than 100Kgs: overall MC20 weighs just under 1500Kgs. 

Busse is at pains to laud his fabulously talented engineering department who defined the car’s side carbon fibre in-step which channels the air towards the car’s rear where its cooling effects are required. To the front, Busse refers to the frame and not grille, as an embodiment of the car’s face, clearly adorned by the marque’s evocative badge which can also be found on the knife sharp-looking C-pillar.

For those accustomed to seeing how fast objects to the rear of such a car recede, that view remains masked by yet another trident, found somewhat obscurely covering the engine bay. Fear not, a camera attests to the vanishing rear horizon. Remaining aft, we find a larger slab of weaved carbon, surrounding artillery-like exhaust pipes, safely concluding the MC20’s shape. Elegant may be too strong a description here though thorax might just work.

Image: TTAC

Now, to the mid-ship mounted mill, designated Nettuno in deference to Neptune grasping his toasting fork. This three litre, twin turbo V6 engine has caused more than a little consternation amid interested parties, matters arising over claims of being a 100% new Maserati engine.

Yes, the Nettuno is Maserati’s first in-house, Modena made engine in over fifteen years but, (to me) naturally uses parts from fellow stablemates Alfa Romeo and some modifications from the Cavallino Rampante’s F1 powertrain. Can an engine be truly 100% of any company? Engines contain parts from many far flung locations, which may become marooned on a windswept container ship or have them redirected to a more pressing mobile device.

The Nettuno. Image: Roadandtrack

To this author, the argument smacks of pettiness when we surely should be applauding the engine’s power, flexibility and emitted sound as we head ever deeper into the silence of the electrified world. Other detractors will decry that Maserati have chosen to use rock oil to power this surprisingly pocket sized rocket but then it does strike one that fossil fuels will remain for some time to come – and what better vessel to drink heartily than such a precocious Lepidoptera?

Immaterial consumption figures suggest 25mpg. With 538 NM of torque, and 0-60 time under three seconds and 621 bhp under your wings, even the wealthy require a keen, petrol limit eye.

Prevailing with insect-like aspects, may I present the beautifully theatrical door of the MC20 along with (somewhat obscure) silver embossed trident wheels? When shelling out the price of a nicely sized house, one expects a car with some drama even when stationary. Whilst not fully subscribing to Busse’s wheel description (there’s a trident in there, somewhere) one could happily open and close these days all day – perhaps you’ve run out of petrol?

Colour schemes appear limited but giallo appears an appropriate butterfly hue. Or what about the more subtle Bianco Audace, with its yellow-tinged white?

The Modena missile’s interior looks comfortable as any cocoon should. Leather options are quietly aired whilst the vegan trend for alternative materials shouts louder. Even a butterfly requires storage areas, the designers blending in a front and rear abdomen for brief trips away. Forgetting the pandemic, do the well heeled flit across continents any more? With room for silk pyjamas and perhaps some fruit for sustenance, you can purchase other necessities on arrival.

Keeping things light hearted, Maserati really do appear in a playful mood, or more precisely, modes. The gearbox, all eight automatic speeds with dual clutch can be set by twisting the dial to GT for everyday open road conditions, Sport for the racing line, Corsa (for more noise and bigger smiles) and Wet – “where sunny conditions are always ahead.” Nothing like a cheerful demeanour.

Who says butterflies don’t like cold weather? Image: Maserati.media.com

On-line views reveal a transmission far from acting as a skittish butterfly but as it’s Maserati’s job to create these whims to the best of their abilities, so too the journalistic nature of eking out a quibble; “not as good as rivals, changing down.” Lighten up; in these strangest of times, we perhaps all need to float serenely like a butterfly.

Leaving aside personal taste, most of the journalists are fawning over the MC20’s heralded overall package which bodes well for Il Tridente. Stellantis’ prose is recognisably confident, with each umbrella spine calling shots, administering incontrovertible change, revealing financial impetus and generating products people converse about and most importantly, purchase.

Image: thespeedjournal

How many MC20’s are expected to sell? Reports suggest around fifteen hundred per year and with a starting price towards the thick end of two hundred large – most will undoubtedly break the quarter million bracket, placing the Maserati firmly in the category of all those usual, overly flamboyant rival suspects. These figures split the road going and soon to appear race versions. A Spyder with retractable hard top should arrive soon – more butterfly like? 

Can Italian flair win over those fortunate enough to have that kind of folding (no wings)? Returning to personal taste, as a distant, by-standing butterfly watcher, one hopes so.

Author: Andrew Miles

Beyond hope there lie dreams; after those, custard creams?

19 thoughts on “Patis Familiar Stellantis”

  1. Good morning Andrew. The new Mc20 had passed me by (only figuratively, sadly!) so thanks for the heads-up. It really is rather nice. I’ll take mine in this colour, please:

    It’s less ‘angry’ looking than the Supercar norm, although recent Ferraris seem also to be calming down somewhat, which is a good thing.

    If I were being hyper-critical, I’d lose the MC20 badging behind the front wheel arch. Also, the black paint disguises slightly awkward bodywork at the base and trailing edge of the door windows. It’s a very minor criticism, however.

  2. Could it be that this MC20 is a re-clothed Ferrari 296?
    The specifications and design look very closely related and Maserati and Ferrari have done a similar already in the past with the MC12 which was a Ferrari Enzo underneath.
    It’s interesting that the Maserati has a flat rear screen with slightly naff trident-shaped cooling slats and Ferrari boasts that they’ve reinvented mid-engined car design by fitting a vertical rear screen and a flat rear deck…

    1. Back in the Enzo/MC12’s days, Ferrari owned Maserati. Stellantis and Ferrari are in no way affiliated, apart from certain component/engine sales deals – which would come under considerably greater scrutiny today than two decades ago, when Ferrari could charge whatever they felt like.

      That the 296 GTB and MC12 don’t share any dimensions would also suggest that they’re similar, but hardly closely related.

    2. It’s a rather fine thing. White for me, please.

      (Also, “weaved”? Surely you mean “woven”?)

    3. Photos and video were leaked of a test mule which used a modified Alfa 4C body shell.

  3. Whilst I very much like the look of this (except perhaps for the wheels ) I find it sad that four-door saloons, which can have all the performance you can sensibly use on 21st century roads, are becoming an endangered species, supercars seem to be proliferating in spite of their pointless impracticality.

    1. Supercars main purpose is extravagant pointlessness which precludes four doors. A supersaloon is almost by definition going to be compromised by its four doors and boot and the fact that a really massively powerful engine makes such a car a bit less superuseful by its noise, bulk and prodigious thirst. A supersaloon also really can´t be that big or else it´s annoying to drive.

      If I drift down this path I realise a supersaloon might be a Ford Mondeo-sized car made to the standards of McLaren.
      The criminals and oligarchs who can afford cars like top-end Ferraris don´t like this kind of modesty. Alas, it is almost a dead certainty that without tyrants, kleptocrats and organised criminals most supercars like top-end Ferraris would not be marketable. I don´t believe there are enough showbusiness, entrepreneurs and sports stars to support the production of 280 kmph 3 second 0-60 cars.

    2. What Richard describes is the basic idea behind cars like the 750 Giulietta or 105 Giulia.

  4. Good morning Andrew. An enjoyable article so thank you. As Mervyn says above I also genuinely wonder why they and others bother. Looks lovely but costs a fortune to buy and heaven knows how much to keep on the road.
    I drove from Hay on Wye to home yesterday and it took the best part of 6 hours on the M4/M3 and M25. Speed restrictions, heavy traffic even during mid – afternoon all combined to slow me down. Would having an Mc20 get me there quicker? I honestly doubt it…

    1. HIgh heels don´t make you walk faster. These sorts of cars are like peacock´s tails. They are statements of wealth and the ability to waste money. Admittedly they can convey people but if that was the main priority, their owners would have a Ford Transit Tourneo or a well-specced large saloon.

  5. It’s a nice thing, but a bit generic, and doesn’t shout or even really mumble ‘Maserati’ to me. It’s an ultimate ‘toy’.

    1. I think the heritage is obvious…

      …yet the MC20 looks like it could have been designed twenty years ago, while Jason Castriota’s breathtaking Birdcage 75th which -was- designed twenty years ago looks as fresh as tomorrow.

      Andrew’s prose is convincing though, I am starting to appreciate the MC20’s relatively reserved and conservative style and demeanor. In this regard it reminds me of the first Audi R8 (as compared with the outrageously slinky Avus concept or the more aggressive looking second generation R8) and Giugiaro’s relatively subdued and sublime Bora (as compared with his Ghibli or Gandini’s Khamsin).

  6. What an extraordinarily ugly waste of money.
    For those psychological inadequates who have to drag around a badge displaying nouveau richesse there are far more elegant creations.

    1. Did you think about just letting it all out and saying it exactly as it came into your mind. It’s OK, you’re among friends here. 🙂

  7. I’d prefer an Alpine, and think how many classics I could add to the garage with the change left over from the Maserati.

  8. Very interesting, thank you, Andrew. There’s a full interview with the lead designer on YouTube (below). Klaus Busse comes across as genuinely normal / pleasant / modest / intelligent.

    Some interesting points in the interview – they got a modeller out of retirement to work on the MC20 and he originally worked on the Miura. An electric version will be produced, too.

    I’m not all that bothered by supercars, but I wish Maserati / Stellantis the best of luck – it’s impressive that they can produce something as outlandish and yet as (relatively) sensible / usable / well-resolved as this.

  9. And here is a very involved breakdown of the design by Frank Stephenson, who emphatically loves the MC20, but he wants more: to be thrilled and excited by it. Stephenson focuses on nearly every aspect and detail of Busse’s design, although I am disappointed that he fails to make the connection to the Birdcage 75th. Along the way he talks about his stint as the head designer of Maserati, during which he was responsible for the MC12, which he compares and contrasts with the MC20.

    I find Stephenson quite compelling and sympathetic, such that I can imagine he was given a rather short leash for the MC12, which he seems unusually proud of despite many having observed that it’s mostly an Enzo. A highlight is his heart wrenching story about meeting with Giugiaro in Turin under what must have been extreme duress to discuss the future direction of the 3200 GT.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.