- The Maserati MC20 Cielo is a beautiful roadster version of the MC20 Coupe with a trick electrically operated hardtop made of folding glass.
- Maserati says the Cielo weighs just 143 pounds more than the coupe.
- Deliveries to customers will begin in the third quarter next year, with prices likely to push up $250,000.
The Maserati MC20 Cielo is another of what we should probably call “last hurrah” cars. It comes from a increasingly well-known playbook—a car manufacturer announces its commitment to a all-electric futureand then go out and make the loudest, most powerful and most exciting combustion model it can possible. Qualities of which the MC20 Cielo is an example.
We already know that Maserati’s MC20 sports car will get an all-electric variant later in its life, with the Follow promising to use a high-tech three-motor system and offer a level of performance much higher than that of the versions powered by the company Nettuno V6. But there’s no chance the e-MC will come close to this one on noise or charisma. Honestly couldn’t – the Nettuno takes both qualities from the dial. That was true for the MC20 Coupeand even more so for the new Cielo version with open roof that Autoweek was recently allowed to drive in Sicily.
The differences between both MC20 variants are both limited and obvious. The Cielo’s has a glass hardtop that folds away under the rear clamshell, an electrically powered process that takes just 12 seconds and can be performed at speeds of up to 50 mph. The roof and its mechanism add 143 pounds over the MC20 Coupé on Maserati’s numbers, but since both cars use the same carbon fiber fairing, the roadster’s torsional rigidity is unabated.
The Cielo looks just as beautiful as the coupe with the roof up, the main difference being the lack of a glass cover over the rear-mounted engine, and with the top lowered, the Cielo transcends the line of sheer beauty. This is a spectacularly beautiful car.
While the roof works quickly and without drama, it’s more difficult to order it up or down thanks to the need to do it via the touchscreen interface. Maserati engineers say that reprogramming the user interface to make this happen actually costs more money than installing a conventional switch, making it an even weirder decision not to opt for a physical check, given the cumbersome need to switch over the course of the day. cycle holding down the activation panel – something I found impossible to do without turning the road.
The electrical dimming of the glass panel of the glass roof also makes only a small difference in the amount of light that comes through. The practicality of the Cielo is as limited as that of the coupé, with difficult access through the narrow opening of the gull-wing door that opens when the roof is raised. Luggage space can be politely described as bijou; there’s a 3.5 cu-ft compartment behind the engine, and an even smaller 0.5 cu-ft under the hood.
This concludes the substantive criticism, because otherwise almost everything else about the MC20 Cielo is excellent. The Nettuno V6 is both the main role and the defining function. This makes for the unlikely combination of a sweeping capacity of just under three liters and a peak power of 621 hp. That’s the result of both an innovative motorsport-inspired pre-ignition system and the massive boost pressure provided by two turbochargers, delivering peaks of up to 43.5 psi.
If you think this sounds like a recipe for deceleration, you’re absolutely right: with the digital tacho showing just under 3000rpm, the responses are lazy and there’s a distinct pause as the turbos purge. But the engine also has huge character thanks to the hissing induction noise and the hiss of the wastegate every time the throttle is reduced. All this is present in the MC20 Coupé, but feels rawer and more exciting in the Cielo with lowered roof.
Fully released, the Cielo’s Bridgestone S007 tires often struggle to find off-the-line traction on Sicily’s often-broken tarmac, but once rolling and with the turbos in their boost zone, it feels unforgiving. On paper, it is indeed slower than open-top supercars like the McLaren 720S and Ferrari F8 Spiders; subjectively, it feels even more exciting than one of those high-quality alternatives.
But despite the performance, the Cielo is not hard. Like the coupé, there are three dynamic modes, GT, Sport and Corsa, each offering a significantly different driving experience. GT is very slow, with the adaptive dampers being quite soft by sports car standards and the standard eight-speed dual-clutch transmission with the smoothness of a torque converter. Sport stiffens up the chassis nicely and takes the elastic off the throttle and adds more snap to shifting. The most aggressive Corsa mode – as in “track” – indeed felt too much for the battered tarmac of Sicily, but the ability to put the dampers in their softer setting gave the chance to still enjoy the most spirited motorcycle mode and neck-buckling torque bumps to upshift each gearbox.
Regardless of the dynamic mode, the Cielo’s steering is quickly tuned and delivers sharp reactions at the front. Sideways grip is massive, but like its coupé sister, this MC20 is happy to adjust and trim its cornering line in response to small throttle inputs. In tighter turns, the rear axle can be pushed to the edge of the breakout, even slightly beyond, without the MC20 turning snappy or feeling bad. But the overwhelming impression is one of stability at high speeds, the Cielo likes to cruise at the kind of speeds that can only be legally experienced on the German Autobahn. The cabin feels surprisingly cozy and well insulated with the roof raised too.
Maserati admits that the Cielo will probably make up half of MC20 sales, which makes me wonder what reason the other half of potential customers might have for sticking with the coupe. Yes, a fixed roof is a purer choice for a sports car, but other than the slight increase in mass, the Cielo doesn’t seem to lose anything compared to the coupe – well, aside from the predictable need to dig deeper. Pricing for the Cielo has not been confirmed, but we can safely predict that Maserati will fetch a significant premium over the $217,000 being asked for the coupe. Then if you have the money, given the free choice, you would almost certainly choose to pay it.
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