By on September 11, 2020

Thanks to a particularly slow news week, everyone has had extra time to gawk at the 2021 Maserati MC20 — a vehicle that serves to set right all that is wrong with the Italian nameplate and will be the first new vehicle the company has built in almost five years.

Despite being most famous for its racing vehicles from the 20th century, the brand has been passed around more than a basketball and has been forced to evolve its identity. Under Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Maserati has remained fixated on luxury and had straddled the line between premium mainstream cars and hyper exclusivity. With a base price of around $200,000, it’s pretty clear what side of the line the MC20 is on. But it’s hard to criticize something that’s biggest problem is being a supercar  especially when it’s part of a larger effort to rebuild the brand’s racing pedigree and garner extra attention from the sort of people that are serious about cars and have money to waste on sleek, flame-belching baubles.

Maserati vehicles are uncomfortably common in New York City. Everyone’s dad has a friend who owns one and they will happily show it off to anybody who feigns an interest. As a result, I’ve been inside or driven most of their products by happenstance alone and my general impression has always been that they’re solid luxury vehicles that could hide the FCA influence a little better. Cheap plastic and parts-bin components totally undermine their otherwise excellent interiors and have no excuse for being there when most Maserati products don’t leave the showroom for less than six figures.

However, FCA infotainment units are among the least-hated in the business and the cars have continued to get increasingly better over the years making a bitter pill a slightly easier to swallow  especially as trident-badged automobiles continue getting better overall.

That’s not an accident either. Maserati was well aware that it was in trouble a decade earlier and has done its utmost to improve its product and expand its lineup to better compete with other luxury outlets. Now the company has this all-encompassing brand relaunch in the works as it’s trying to get back into the sporting side of things with the MC20, which is an obvious nod to the MC12 racecar.

Like that vehicle, the MC20 also appears to share a lot of its DNA with one of its Italian cousins. Whereas the MC12 (below) used Ferrari’s Enzo chassis to build a superior performance vehicle, the MC20 seems to be based upon the Alfa Romeo 8C that was ultimately canceled. The overall shape seems incredibly similar and the Maserati’s wheels seem to be inspired by the Quadrifoglio-style wheels Alfa originally intended to use on the 8C.

Despite there being a strong likelihood of sharing between brands, Maserati has said it’s solely responsible for the twin-turbocharged, 3.0-liter V6 mounted in the middle of the car, and every one of the 621 horsepower and 538 pound-feet of torque it produces. With a curb weight of 3,306 pounds, the unit should help the car scramble like an egg one the engine has been warmed up.

Maserati estimated 62 mph in less than three seconds and a top speed of over 200 mph. It thanked the F1 technology baked into the engine and a lightning-quick eight-speed automatic. Though the carbon-fiber monocoque is supposed to be prepped to accept electrified powertrains and will be doing so eventually. That unit will also be an all-wheel drive, unlike the RWD gasoline model. As with most high-end performance vehicles, there are numerous drive modes and adjustable suspension settings to play with.

While there will undoubtedly be a track-only variant of the car, Maserati is assumed to have several trims for the road-going version. When pressured, the company estimated a starting price in the $200,000 neighborhood  which would be a lot more troublesome if it didn’t seem like such a gem already. The performance figures are everything you’d hope for and the lines are so clean you could eat off them.  Although my barometer for what the public appreciates in terms of styling is sometimes way off, especially when the vehicle in question isn’t something I could realistically afford. I’m more interested in what everyone else thinks and how useful the MC20 will actually be at restoring the brand’s image. Unless it’s an absolute turd on the racetrack, I can’t see this it doing anything but good for Maserati and its fans.

We’ll find out if I guessed right in the fall of 2021 as deliveries commence.

[Images: Maserati]

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