The Covid-19 pandemic has forced Maserati to delay the unveiling of its carbon-fibre-tubbed (and ostensibly twin-turbo V6-powered) mid-engined sportscar, but to whet our appetites for the upcoming launch, the Modenese marque has clothed its MC20 development prototype in a livery that commemorates the late Sir Stirling Moss.
Despite the unforeseen delay, 2020 looks to be a momentous year for the historic Italian marque. The Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' premier brand has been struggling for sales with an ageing product line-up, but in September, the defiant company will host a brand-relaunch event in Modena titled “MMXX: The Way Forward” to inaugurate the brand's "new era".
The MC20 prototype shows vents on the rear engine cover... pity we can't see the car's exhaust-end layout.
The MC20 (MC is the abbreviation for Maserati Corse – or Maserati Racing – while the 20 refers to 2020) is set to be the first model to be launched in the so-called “new era” of the Trident brand. As a spiritual successor to the MC12 supercar, which won 22 races (including 3 victories in the 24 Hours of Spa) and clinched 14 championship titles in FIA GT racing from 2004 to 2010, the newcomer will be officially entered in motorsport competition.
Maserati claims the MC20 will be “the first car to adopt a new engine 100% designed, developed and produced by (the brand) itself” and it will be produced at the historic plant in Viale Ciro Menotti (where the now-discontinued Gran Turismo was built). The plant’s production line is being modernised “to accommodate the newcomer’s advanced electric powertrain”, and a new low-environmental-impact paint shop is being built.
Sir Stirling Moss campaigned a host of Maseratis during his storied career.
In March, to hammer home the Trident brand’s “Masters of Italian Audacity” global statement, of which the new MC20 is claimed to be “the first and ultimate expression", the first full prototype of the mid-engined sportscar was photographed at night in Piazza degli Affari in Milan. That marked the start of a period of road and track testing, in various conditions, to acquire vital data for the preparation of the car's final setup, Maserati says.
Now Maserati has shown the MC20 prototype again in a livery that pays homage to Sir Stirling Moss, the British motorsport legend who died on 12 April at the age of 90. The design is inspired by the Maserati Eldorado – the iconic single-seater Sir Stirling drove in the “Trofeo dei due Mondi” at Monza in 1958.
Questions remain about Maserati's claim of an "advanced electric powertrain". It presupposes hybrid and BEV versions of the MC20.
The wrap features Moss' name in bold, red letters at the rear in honour of the man who recorded 16 victories in 66 Formula One starts – he’s widely regarded as is one of the most successful drivers never to have won the F1 world drivers' title. In the 1956 season and some 1957 races, he drove a Maserati 250F (“his favourite”, as he often recalled). The British driver also drove the Maserati Tipo 60 Birdcage, Tipo 61 and 300 S during his career.
What’s clear from the teaser images is that the MC20 is mid-engined (note the sharp, plunging nose section and the air intakes atop the car’s elaborate rear fenders). Car and Driver claims the MC20 will – like its now-discontinued Alfa Romeo 4C cousin – feature a carbon-fibre tub and that it will be powered by that “all-new” twin-turbo V6 producing in excess of 447 kW, mated with an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
It that a centrally-mounted single exhaust end protruding from the MC20 prototype's rear diffuser?
The engine’s displacement has not been announced, but British Car suggests that Maserati engineers are working towards an ultimate engine capacity of approximately 3.6 litres, which is substantially beefier than the 2.9-litre displacement of the twin-turbo V6 that produces 403 kW/600 Nm in the Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA.
The MC20 will be produced in coupe and roadster guises – it will be launched in hardtop guise, with the soft-top version expected to follow in 2021 (or soon thereafter). But what about the “advanced electric powertrain” that Maserati referred to when it described the upgrade programme of its historic Modenese plant (where the MC20 will be built)?
Hybrid, pure-electric versions mooted
While a pure-electric version of the MC20 is said to be planned, we believe that newcomer's power unit could also comprise a combination of a twin-turbo engine with multiple electric motors – with at least one of those motors mounted on the front axle, British Car reports. The result will be a hybrid sportscar with a combined output of 515 kW that should be capable of sprinting from 0-100 kph in under 3 sec.
We believe that the unveiling of the MC20 will coincide with the “MMXX: The Way Forward” event in September. We also await news of a replacement for the Gran Turismo, which is believed to be based on the 2+2 Alfieri concept.