Motor (Australia)

THE MC20 IS A CAR THAT REALISES A MASSIVE STEP CHANGE IN COMPETENCE FOR ITS MANUFACTUR­ER

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MC20 is over four metres wide with doors opened. You’ll probably require a decent-sized garage

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The MC20 is pivotal to sharpening the public perception of Maserati yet Centro Stile has resisted over-design of character that gives it the sort of versatilit­y that’s not often the calling card of an Italian mid-engined supercar. It actually feels more like a British lightweigh­t in that it’s alert without the engine dominating. If somebody told you this was Lotus or McLaren’s first stab at a vehicle with electrical­ly assisted power steering, you wouldn’t demur.

That 60-litre fuel tank sees us stopped at yet another servo to debrief. By comparison, a Lamborghin­i Huracan sports an 80-litre tank and a 992 Turbo 67 litres, while the new generation of V6 supercars like the Ferrari 296 GTB (65L) and McLaren Artura (72L) both deliver more in the way of useable range. You need to leave more room than you expect at the bowser, as the dihedral doors need a lot of space to swing through their arc. Once replenishe­d, it’s back to the road route.

The Tremec eight-speed dual clutch is much the same unit seen in the Corvette C8 and, in this installati­on, it’s quick-witted with decent shift logic. In GT mode, it’s fairly languid but Sport sees it downchange aggressive­ly and it never seems to refuse a valid downshift request when you’re using the long column-mounted paddles.

Those cool-to-the-touch shifters are reminiscen­t of those in the Alfa Romeo Giulia Q, as indeed are certain aspects of the Nettuno engine. Maserati makes great play of the fact that the powerplant is an in-house job, but the links between the MC20’s genesis and those of rumoured Alfa Romeo and Ferrari models seems at best opaque. Perhaps its better to park those rumination­s and just pass judgment on what Maserati has delivered. The MC20 is a befuddling­ly excellent car. Although that has as much to do with what has gone before as to the merits of the vehicle in question, the MC20 is one of those few cars that realises a massive step-change in competence for its manufactur­er. I’d only driven three such vehicles in my lifetime: the Mk1 Ford Focus, the Lotus Elise and the Giulia Q, but I can now add the MC20 to that list.

It’s a staggering achievemen­t that takes some time to process. Your expectatio­n will be one of flakiness and damning with faint praise. The MC20 feels unburstabl­e, savagely potent and so far from the default choices that you can’t help but warm to it. It’ll never make significan­t sales volumes for Maserati – the forthcomin­g Grecale SUV is burdened with those expectatio­ns – but as an indicator as to how the Modenese have reimagined, reinvented and refocused their sense of purpose, the MC20 couldn’t have been much better. Not bad for a company without any great experience of building mid-engined cars.

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