This looks like the car we’ve been waiting for Maserati to make for years. That the new MC20 is clearly ambitious is what impresses me most; a sign that the company may finally be moving out of its former adopted parent Ferrari’s shadow and exploring its full potential. And with something other than another SUV or a diesel saloon; that’s a huge part of the good news, too, we can surely all agree.
And yet it’s also good business sense. If Modena wants to sell exotic cars in decent volumes, the super sports car segment is a much better bet than the front-engined super GT market. And the MC20 could do well within it. That 150 litre overall cargo capacity could be a sticking point, but very few of the other details revealed so far – the oversquare twin-turbo V6 making peak power at 7500rpm (which is 1000rpm higher than Ferrari’s own F154 V6 makes it), the double wishbone suspension all round, the kerbweight of less than 1.5 tonnes – ought to be.
Meanwhile, the theory that this was supposed to be the new Ferrari Dino but was switched to be a Maserati at the last minute, with the production Alfieri becoming the Ferrari Roma in exchange? To me, it just isn’t credible. Ferrari and Maserati are simply no longer integrated or managed anywhere near closely enough together to support it.
On the press launch of the Roma recently, I asked a Ferrari source if there is any mutual strategy or management oversight of the two companies at all any more (they were effectively split asunder a decade ago when FCA united Maserati with Alfa Romeo and Abarth in a miniature automotive group within the group). He laughed at the suggestion. Ferrari is, after all, nearly 70% public-owned now, with FCA’s associated investment arm owning only 20% of the company. The only executive who sits on the management boards of both brands, I was told, is FCA Chairman John Elkann, and he’s undoubtedly got bigger worries than detailed product strategy.
So if not the big man, who would orchestrate the enormous necessary trade in intellectual property to swap entire vehicle designs between companies? And why would Ferrari agree? It didn’t really need the Roma. Maserati is crying out for new product. It wouldn’t have been close to a fair trade or a ‘win-win’; just doesn’t stand up.
This move to make its own engines rather than use Ferrari-built mills is further evidence of Maserati’s will to stand on its own two feet as a car-maker. It’s been reported that it will stop buying engines from Maranello completely within a few years. It stopped buying second-rate diesels from VW Motori a few years ago, which was another good decision. I’m keen to know more technical detail about the firm’s ‘Nettuno’ V6, as well as how it has developed its own mid-engined sports car platform for the MC20 – and at what cost. But to assume that the only way it could have come up with any of the above is by recycling Ferrari’s hand-me-downs? It’s unfair, outdated and downright daft.