Maserati MC20 Cielo review: The sky’s the limit
The Italian word Cielo means ‘sky’, but this probably isn’t the vista Maserati had in mind. A steady drizzle is already drumming on the MC20’s glass roof and brooding, slate-grey clouds threaten more rain to come. The open-air experience will have to wait.
Still, even on a damp afternoon in Oxfordshire, the MC20 Cielo radiates a kind of sun-kissed Mediterranean glamour. Less ostentatious than many raging bulls or Italian stallions, its fulsome, elegant curves evoke classic Maseratis of the 1960s. Bella macchina, as they say in the mother country.
The 630hp Cielo’s rivals include the Ferrari 296 GTS, Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet and forthcoming McLaren Artura Spider. There is also an enemy within: the new Maserati GranTurismo, particularly the Folgore version, which serves up a stonking 761hp from three electric motors and a 92.5kWh battery.
An electric MC20 Folgore is due next year to reassert the range hierarchy. In the meantime, with a kerb weight of 1,540kg – only 65kg more than the coupe – the Cielo hardly hangs about. Zero to 62mph takes 3.0 seconds and it keeps getting faster until 199mph. The twin-turbo ‘Nettuno’ V6, which drives the rear wheels via an eight-speed dual-clutch ’box, also has a gruff, blustery soundtrack that no EV can compete with.
Seeing the light
Lift a wide-opening butterfly door, then lower your hips into a surprisingly accommodating seat. The MC20’s cabin also looks understated – perhaps even underwhelming – but its Fiat-derived central touchscreen is simple to use. If you’ve just stepped out of the tech-fest Ferrari 296, that will be a blessed relief.
Developed by Dallara, the Cielo’s carbon fibre tub is thicker in some areas to compensate for the absence of a roof. The hard-top itself folds and retracts in 12 seconds at speeds of up to 30mph, then lies flat atop the mid-mounted engine. Its centre section is made of electrochromic glass that can switch from opaque to clear with a prod of the touchscreen. All the better to admire those unrelenting raindrops.
In default GT mode, the MC20 is more easygoing than you might expect. Its limber suspension feels attuned to British roads, smothering brittle surfaces and shrugging off mid-corner bumps. Light-but-lucid steering and a surfeit of mid-range torque also make for effortless progress. Only a modest 60-litre fuel tank and very limited luggage space (150 litres from both the front and rear boots combined) dent the Cielo’s credentials as a gran turismo to take on the, er, GranTurismo.
Tension and flow
Swivel the rotary controller to Sport and the Maserati instantly gulps down a double espresso. Its electronically adjustable dampers stiffen their resolve, and the engine and gearbox switch to high alert. You sense the tautness of the chassis, the front-end bite and the plentiful traction. Staying on boost, chasing the 8,000rpm redline, hearing the turbos flutter and gasp, a hard-driven MC20 feels manically intense.
It’s also a little ragged and intimidating on damp roads, but I rather like that. Who wants their supercar to feel sanitised, after all?
As I turn back towards the hotel, something miraculous happens: the clouds start to disperse and blue sky emerges ahead. I won’t get another chance. The roof whirrs back and finally the Cielo is open to the elements. With unlimited headroom and the rush of air augmenting the whoosh of forced induction, it feels even more engaging and exhilarating. It looks even more beautiful, too.
Rain or shine
The MC20 Cielo is priced from £230,290, but the example I drove had some frighteningly expensive options, including £9,650 for Rosso Vincente paint and £36,240 for the exterior carbon pack. Once everything was totted up, its price started with a three.
Ferrari, Lamborghini and others play the same game, of course, but the Maserati doesn’t need all the trimmings. Whatever the weather, it excels as a refreshingly uncomplicated and authentic supercar.
Tim Pitt writes for Motoring Research
TOP SPEED: 199mph
FUEL ECONOMY: 24.1mpg
CO2 EMISSIONS: 265g/km