The MC20 wasn’t the most flawed car at ecoty – the CSL and GT4 RS could fight it out for that title – but it was very far from perfect. Its brakes came in for particular criticism; it seemed absurdly heavy for a carbon-tubbed, non-hybrid, two-wheel drive supercar, and it didn’t look or feel as beautifull­y puttogethe­r as the other Italian in the test (despite costing almost as much, once options had been added to the list price).

As Meaden commented: ‘To someone who didn’t really know these cars, the Ferrari would appear so much more sophistica­ted and impressive. The Maserati… they wouldn’t get it. But in fact that’s why we love it; it’s more a car person’s car. You find yourself falling in love with it despite the flaws. It’s because it delivers good old-fashioned excitement and emotion in spades. And it’s unmistakab­ly Italian when the Ferrari has perhaps lost some of its national identity in pursuit of measurable improvemen­ts.’

Equally pleasing was the MC20’S ability to settle at low speeds. It seemed so docile, and yet you knew that explosive, F40-style bursts of speed were just a downshift or two away. As Maserati’s first attempt at a supercar since the 1970s, it’s deeply impressive. Both for how it performs and – arguably more importantl­y – how it so clearly differenti­ates itself from other supercars.

‘It’s a supercar pure and simple and all the better for it in my view,’ said Vivian. ‘It feels a bit raw and organic, with a sort of granular texture to its responses that grabs you from

the start and contrasts strongly with the glassy dynamic stylings of the Ferrari. So the steering isn’t the sharpest, the chassis’ damping isn’t quite the most tautly controlled, brake pedal travel is excessive. But f--- me, when you floor it, you’re a bullet being fired from a high-velocity rifle, 1700 kilos or not. The Maser’s turbocharg­ed V6 is wickedly brutal with zero lag and sounds like the end of days. No batteries required…’

‘It looks divine, it feels so right to be in and sounds as angry as a car is allowed to sound in 2022,’ echoed Gallagher. ‘I was, I am, blown away by the MC20. It is a remarkable machine, an unexpected triumph from a brand that’s flirted with disaster for so long that some forget it still exists. But exist it does, and the MC20 is not only proof of that but a magnificen­t driver’s car, too. One of the very best.’

Sutcliffe went even further: ‘I just connect with this car in a very big way, even though it has flaws, even though it’s a bit scary at times. I love the almost languid responses of its chassis, the way it manages to breathe in sync with whatever road you aim it at. The engine and gearbox have the same easygoing, effortless nature – I like the fact that initially you have absolutely no idea of how much energy the motor contains, or how naughty it can sound when you let rip. I could go on for ever – instead I’ll just say it’s the car I’d most like to own of all the cars I’ve driven in the last 30 years and leave it at that.’

So there you have it, evo Car of the Year 2022, and as Bovingdon said: ‘Not bad for a fatty, eh?’

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