FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Maserati. Remember them?
It's a name many luxury car buyers don't consider, something the company is hoping change with the introduction of the MC20, the brand's new mid-engine super car prototype being shown at 20 events nationwide at Maserati's largest dealerships, including one Monday night at Ferrari Maserati of Fort Lauderdale, America's third-largest Maserati dealer.
"It is the first time that we're getting back into this world since the MC12, and I think a lot of customers are curious what it looks like," said Andy Love, director of Maserati North America, who also said that while the MC20 was inspired by the MC12, its mission is somewhat different. Like the MC20, the MC12 was a halo car created to reignite buyers' enthusiasm for the brand to capitalize on strong sales of its Spyder, Coupe and Quattroporte models and built using the Ferrari Enzo's platform. Given that, it's not surprising that a race-prepped version of the MC12, the MC12 Corsa, brought home the bacon in the 2005 and 2007 Manufacturer's Cup, as well as six Drivers' Championships, four 2006-2009 FIA GT Championships, the 2006 Italian GT Championship and the 2010 FIA GT1 class in 2010.
"It was only in production for a year," said Love of the MC12. "We only made 50 of them globally, and then we made another 16 racing versions. So this is not going to be like that. This is going to be a car that goes after the Lamborghini Huracan or the McLaren GT in terms of volume and price. So, this is going to be a lot more attainable than 50 cars."
Looking at the MC20's form, car lovers will quickly discern that the MC20 uses a mid-engine layout, meaning the engine is placed behind the passenger cabin but ahead of the rear axle. This provides an ideal 50%/50% front-to-rear weight distribution, which provides superb handling. The car's Maserati-designed engine, the first in 20 years, is a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 that generates 621 horsepower and 538 pound-feet of torque, and is paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. By using a V-6 rather than a V-8, engineers could place the engine down low, allowing stylists to create a sleeker shape.
And while the MC20's visual vocabulary is aggressively sporty, there's a remarkable amount of restraint, ensuring the elegance expected of a Maserati. That's why the MC20 lacks a spoiler. It allows you to drink in the sensuously sculpted rear fenders and perfectly sculpted rear trunk lip. And you can't see the air intakes unless you're standing next to the car. Back away, and they disappear. Credit the deft touch of Klaus Busse, the head designer for Maserati, who served as a designer at Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz.
"They wanted this to be timeless, elegant and also natural in terms of the way they designed this," said Love. "They did so well with the aerodynamics, they didn't need a big spoiler on the back. They didn't want those design elements to be the protagonists of the car."
This is what makes the MC20 special.
Best of all, this Maserati is all Maserati, not just a combination of bits from Fiat Chrysler's parts bin. Look for Maserati to produce 300-400 MC20s annually, with prices starting at $210,000. "It's not a volume car because the quantity is so small," said Garrett Hayim, president and co-owner of Maserati's Fort Lauderdale dealer, where the debut took place. "In fact, our initial allocation, which is the whole year's worth, has already been sold out."
The MC20 is just the beginning of a wave of new products, including the smaller Grecale SUV, a new GranTurismo GranCabrio, and electrified versions of existing vehicles throughout the product line.
"FCA has really invested in this brand," Love added. "You're going to see a continual product cadence almost every six months for like the next four years. There's been more than $4 billion in product investment solely on Maserati."
And Hayim has invested in his dealership, as well as Monday night's event, which was meant to provide enthusiasm for the brand and its products, including its new Trofeo line of V-8 Ferrari-powered Maseratis.
"It's not like we're using this event to sell cars. But it brings people together and brings joy and can have a little bit of fun and get out," Hayim said of the masked and socially distanced event, which saw his showroom transformed into a South Beach night club, albeit with Star Wars characters dancing to pop music. It was a surreal moment, yet absolutely Miami. But then again, sensibility has no place here; Maserati is all about passion.
"I didn't build it exactly on a rate of return. We built it more on the concept of believing in what's going to be the future, a little bit more of a dreamer/artists' view than necessarily the mathematicians' view," Hayim said. "But the truth is, I love it. I grew up with this in my blood."
ABOUT THE WRITERLarry Printz is an automotive journalist based in South Florida. Readers may send him email at TheDrivingPrintz@gmail.com.(c)2020 Tribune Content Agency, LLC, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.