2022 Maserati MC20 Jay Leno drive highlights:
- Jay Leno recently got to drive the 2022 Maserati MC20 with the company’s North American CEO
- The Maserati supercar ended up impressing him more than originally expected thanks to its refinement, performance, and homages to the brand’s heritage
- Although other supercars are faster and its brake-by-wire system could use some tweaking, the MC20 is a solid return to form for Maserati
It struggled to truly establish itself within Stellantis, but Maserati is finally forging a secure identity. No longer defined in relation to Ferrari, the Italian brand is embracing not just its luxurious side but its performance side, too. So, in addition to high-speed GTs and SUVs, Maserati is back in the supercar business with the 2022 MC20. And a brief taste was enough to get Jay Leno excited about the brand’s future.
The 2022 Maserati MC20 is a supercar worthy of the Trident brand’s heritage
|2022 Maserati MC20|
|Engine||3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6|
|Transmission||Eight-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|Curb weight||3252 lbs (claimed, likely dry weight)|
3757 lbs (Car and Driver)
|0-60 mph time||2.9 seconds (claimed)|
3.2 seconds (Car and Driver)
Although Stellantis owns Maserati, for a brief period, it was a Ferrari subsidiary. But while that gave it access to Ferrari engines and engineering, it also gave the brand an identity crisis. And some rather blatant parts-sharing with lesser Stellantis products didn’t help matters.
The 2022 Maserati MC20, though, is a clean-sheet design. Furthermore, rather than parts trickling up to it, MC20 tech will trickle down to other Maseratis. This is a true halo car, with performance, engineering, and styling to match. And Ferrari’s got nothin’ on anything inside—not even the engine.
Speaking of, the 2022 MC20’s mid-mounted ‘Nettuno’ V6 is Maserati’s first in-house engine design in over 20 years, Car and Driver says. It features genuine Formula One technology, prechamber ignition, wherein the engine ignites an initial fuel-air charge that kicks off the main boom. The result is an engine that makes more power per liter than any current Ferrari. It’s so powerful that it can overwhelm the launch control if you’re not careful, Car and Driver notes.
The rest of the 2022 Maserati MC20 is a similar symphony of Italian supercar tech. It has a Dallara carbon-fiber chassis, for example, as well as Sabelt bucket seats and an optional Sonus Faber audio system. It also has adaptive shocks, Brembo brakes—carbon-ceramic ones are optional—aluminum double-wishbone suspension, and butterfly doors.
Awash in carbon fiber, leather, and Alcantara, the minimalist interior doesn’t have cupholders. But it does have a 10.3” touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and navigation, as well as dials to adjust the driving mode and suspension. And crucially, it looks “like nothing else in the Stellantis portfolio,” Car and Driver reports.
“It’s a great compromise between a hard track car and a road car,” Leno says
Jay Leno might not own any Ferraris, but he knows more than a thing or two about Maseratis. He owns at least one, a 1962 3500 GTi. And for him, the 2022 MC20 is a seriously impressive modern distillation of the brand’s ethos.
Firstly, although Leno’s classic Maserati doesn’t have prechamber ignition, it has two spark plugs per cylinder like the 2022 MC20. More importantly, the Nettuno V6 is Maserati’s engine, no one else’s; “for me, if Maserati is not building its own engines…that’s the beginning of the end,” Leno says. And it’s not just powerful and fast, but it’s also responsive and, to put it mildly, animated. It chuffs, growls, gurgles, and blares in what Car and Driver calls “an auditory tsunami.”
But the engine isn’t the only thing that impressed Jay Leno about the 2022 Maserati MC20. It might not have cupholders, but this is a genuinely comfortable supercar. You can leave the powertrain in the sportiest setting yet have the shocks in their comfiest one. And while the front and rear trunks are understandably small, the Sabelt seats are truly comfy. Plus, when the mood strikes you, “you could take to the track,” Leno muses. Yet the responsive, accurate steering and solid handling are enjoyable at six- and seven-tenths, too, he adds.
All in all, Jay Leno walked away from the 2022 Maserati MC20 more impressed than he thought he would be. To paraphrase his closing thoughts, Maserati hasn’t watered down this supercar.
Is the 2022 Maserati MC20 good enough for the supercar big leagues?
Admittedly, the 2022 Maserati MC20 isn’t a perfect supercar. Its brake-by-wire system could use some work and more feedback, Car and Driver reports. So could its launch control system. And while a 3.2-second 0-60 mph time is impressive, there are other supercars that can match it for the same or less money.
The 2022 Porsche 911 Turbo S Lightweight, for example, hit 60 mph in 2.1 seconds in Car and Driver’s hands. And once option lists get involved, the Maserati ends up noticeably more expensive than the Porsche. Though to be fair, the MC20 goes 5-60 mph faster than the 911 Turbo S Lightweight. So, in the real world, the Maserati is just as fast. Plus, it looks like an Italian supercar, while a 911 Turbo S Lightweight looks, well, like a 911.
If acceleration is the name of the game, though, the C8 Chevrolet Corvette beats the MC20’s 0-60 and 5-60 times at one-quarter the price. And that’s just the regular C8: the Z06 will be even quicker. But Car and Driver says the Maserati beats the C8’s ¼-mile time and trap speed. Also, the MC20 has a significantly nicer interior.
However, compared to something like the 2023 Ferrari 296 GTB, the 2022 Maserati MC20 offers similar thrills and quality levels at a lower price. And while it’s not the fastest supercar, it truly belongs among them.
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