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Driven: 2023 Maserati MC20 Cielo Brings Open-Air Opulence

The MC20 Cielo's retractable hardtop adds style and fun, with minimal compromise

2023 Maserati MC20 Cielo
  • MC20 Cielo is the new convertible version of the MC20 sports car
  • Features a retractable hardtop with electrochromic glass technology
  • Weighs only 143 pounds more than the coupe
  • Part of the first MC20 generation introduced in 2022

What is the MC20 Cielo?

Maserati launched its new flagship exotic sports car, the MC20, for the 2022 model year. It's a quick and communicative coupe, and a blast to drive on the road or track. Now Maserati is following it up with a convertible version: the 2023 Maserati MC20 Cielo.

The company engineered the MC20's carbon-fiber body structure to support a drop-top version from the beginning. This made the MC20's conversion from coupe to convertible relatively easy, and now the Cielo (or "sky," in Italian) version has arrived. It features a retractable hardtop that can stow in 12 seconds at speeds up to 31 mph. And even with the top up, occupants can instantly change the roof panel from clear to opaque through the magic of electrochromic — or smart glass — technology.

With electric motors moving retractable panels containing advanced smart glass technology, you might assume this adds a lot of weight, compromising the MC20 coupe's nimble and responsive driving dynamics in the convertible version. Happily, you'd be wrong. The weight gain is a modest 143 pounds, requiring just a few tweaks to the MC20's adaptive suspension tuning to keep the Cielo's handling light and lively.

2023 Maserati MC20 Cielo

What's under the MC20 Cielo's hood?

Resting behind the driver is the same engine found in the coupe — a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine producing 621 horsepower and 538 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission sends power to the rear wheels. Maserati says the featherweight construction and ample power reserves can rocket the MC20 Cielo from zero to 60 mph in roughly 2.9 seconds — the same figure as the coupe.

Maserati's engineers created a broad, flat torque band with this twin-turbo V6. Throttle application, at any speed and in pretty much any gear, results in immediate forward thrust. Think big-block American muscle car — except this engine spins to 8,000 rpm and sounds more like an F1 race car.

2023 Maserati MC20 Cielo

How does the MC20 Cielo drive?

With the same power and nearly the same weight as the coupe, the MC20 Cielo drives ... well, pretty much the same as the coupe. And that's a very good thing, as the MC20 coupe is a highly engaging dance partner on both public roads and private tracks. The difference is how the Cielo brings the outside world along for the ride, most notably the advanced and powerful V6 engine's dramatic exhaust note.

Cycling through the transmission's eight gears, whether upshifting while accelerating out of a corner or downshifting while braking for the next one, delivers all the emotion you expect from an Italian supercar.

With five driving modes, now accessed through a new digital drive mode selector between the seats, the MC20 Cielo offers a wide range of dynamic behavior. The default GT mode works well for routine driving, while Sport is effective for canyon runs and Corsa is meant for track environments. There's also a Wet mode to soften gear shifts and increase traction control. At the opposite end is ESC Off, which is essentially Corsa with the traction and stability control systems turned off. Be careful with that …

The MC20 Coupe and Cielo offer a carbon-ceramic brake option, which our test car had. While this system has plenty of stopping power, it didn't have the kind of progressive, easy-to-judge pedal modulation we'd prefer.

2023 Maserati MC20 Cielo

How comfortable is the MC20 Cielo?

The beauty of today's active suspension technology is that a single car can provide ultra-stiff suspension tuning for track duty and remarkably soft ride quality for real-world bumps and potholes. The Maserati MC20 Cielo reflects this level of adaptability.

The roads we traveled in Sicily ranged from smooth, high-speed freeways to broken and pockmarked single-lane pavement snaking between stone walls and dense trees. The MC20 Cielo handled most of it without incident, but the sports car's low ride height makes navigating low-quality pavement tricky. An optional front lift system can reduce some stress and is highly recommended for anyone traversing speed bumps and driveway transitions.

We expected to hear a bit more wind and road noise in the MC20 Cielo compared to the coupe. But Maserati specifically focused on the quality of the roof's seal when up. The automaker wanted to ensure everything from cabin temperature control to ambient noise was as coupe-like as possible, and it succeeded. Sports car buyers looking for open-air fun with the top down and closed-coupe composure with the top up will be highly satisfied with the MC20 Cielo.

2023 Maserati MC20 Cielo

How's the MC20 Cielo's interior?

The MC20 Cielo's cabin reflects the 2023 upgrades benefiting both the coupe and convertible. Beyond the new, more advanced drive mode selector, there's an automatic emergency braking system, an updated navigation system with traffic sign recognition, a power-adjustable steering wheel, and a 360-degree view parking camera system. A new Sonus Faber audio system manages to fit 12 speakers in the Cielo's relatively tight cabin.

Maserati also offers a full range of infotainment and connectivity features for the MC20 Cielo. The infotainment system features a 10.25-inch touchscreen powered by the Android Auto operating system, which provides a high degree of customization. The Maserati Connect system allows owners to monitor the vehicle through a mobile app and connect with their car through home applications like Amazon Alexa.

More importantly, the Maserati MC20 Cielo offers the kind of personalization buyers expect of premium sports cars in this segment. Matte carbon-fiber trim and a new standard Alcantara faux suede steering wheel can be enhanced with carbon-fiber sport seats, a carbon-fiber steering wheel, and a spectrum of seat colors to coordinate with an extensive range of exterior color options.

2023 Maserati MC20 Cielo

Edmunds says

The new Maserati MC20 Cielo faces off against convertible versions of the Lamborghini Huracan, McLaren 720S and Porsche 911 Turbo, and it easily holds its own.

2023 Maserati MC20 Cielo