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2023 McLaren Artura vs. 2023 Maserati MC20: V6 Supercar Showdown

Who needs a V8 after all?

Maserati MC20 vs. McLaren Artura side-by-side

We only had one day with the 2023 McLaren Artura and 2023 Maserati MC20. Since we'd previously had adequate track time in the Artura and MC20 at their respective launches, we thought our time would be better spent simply living with the vehicles as daily drivers. After all, supercars these days are expected to be comfortable as well as sporty. If you want something raw and track-focused, go buy a Radical.

These two are some of the latest and greatest performance cars on the market. In the MC20's case, this is Maserati's first mid-engine vehicle since the Ferrari-based MC12 from the mid-2000s. The McLaren, too, represents both a step forward and a loving look to the brand's past. It's the automaker's second plug-in hybrid and the first since the McLaren P1 from a decade ago. This pair have a lot in common — turbocharged V6s, mid-engine layouts, billionaire doors — but look and feel completely different from behind the wheel.

Mclaren Artura rear three-quarter
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How do they drive?

2023 McLaren Artura

Both the Artura and MC20 are powered by 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engines. This is McLaren's first V6 and the first truly new engine from the company in years. The cylinders are arranged in a wide 120-degree angle, which makes the engine flatter, in turn helping keep the center of gravity low. It's paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic, another first for McLaren. Most notably, the Artura is a plug-in hybrid. With a capacity of 7.4 kWh, the battery pack is small by plug-in hybrid standards, only offering an estimated 11 miles of electric driving on a full charge. But the primary goal here is not to use the Artura like an EV, but instead use that juice to make sure the electric motor (located within the transmission bellhouse) can always deliver its peak output of 94 horsepower and 166 lb-ft of torque. Total output between the engine and motor is a pulse-pounding 671 hp and 531 lb-ft.

The hybrid powertrain also gives the Artura a hybrid personality. The car starts silently, running in electric mode until you switch the drive mode or the battery runs out. The Artura's V6 sings a smooth exhaust note, but the benefit of being able to start your supercar without waking all of the neighbors cannot be overstated. And if your commute is short enough, you might be able to drive the Artura without using any fuel. That's good because the Artura is only rated at 18 mpg combined.

Running in hybrid or fully electric mode feels antithetical to the supercar ethos, but the Artura is more than capable of dialing things up with a press of the drive mode switch. Select one of the sportier settings to add the V6's soundtrack to your daily commute. The Artura looks and feels like a McLaren, with sharp steering and stiff brakes, but it settles down and relaxes on city streets in a way no other McLaren can, save for the P1. Being able to cruise around town quietly in pure EV mode is nice in any vehicle that allows for it, but it's extra cool when it's an exotic-looking sports car. We're not opposed to flash, but sometimes it's good to be subtle. It doesn't necessarily ride better than other McLarens, though ride quality is fairly good for something so sporty.

As with past McLarens, the Artura is built around a carbon-fiber tub. It's a new design that fixes some of McLaren's past shortcomings like narrow cabins. The new tub allows for a wider interior, which in turn makes the seat controls easier to access. The Artura is slimmer, lower to the ground, and shorter in length than the MC20. Compared to a typical vehicle, the Artura and the Maserati are both wider than a Toyota Camry but shorter in length than a Honda Civic. The width, along with the new seat design, help the Artura feel relatively spacious inside compared to the MC20.

Visibility is decent, too, thanks to a short and low front end and a windshield that sort of wraps around to give you a panoramic view out of the front. The rear glass is narrow, but you get decent visibility over your shoulder. What that means is the Artura is relatively easy to park in spite of its width, and the attention-grabbing upward-opening doors open wide enough that getting in and out isn't overly awkward. Supercars are cool, but they often require some gymnastics.

Maserati MC20 rear three-quarters

2023 Maserati MC20

While the McLaren makes full use of cutting-edge technology to pulverize physics, Maserati takes an entirely different approach for its supercar. The Maserati MC20 delivers 10% modern tech but the other 90% feels like an early-2000s supercar throwback — it feels more raw. Fire it up and it doesn’t roar loudly to life like one would think and it quickly settles into a soft yet audible purr — that's the sliver of modernity coming into play. Once you get rolling, that purr quickly fades into a sonorous mechanical symphony. It’s unlike any engine sound you've heard from any Italian manufacturer. However, if you want to hear its timbre on the regular, you might routinely fall below its EPA-estimated 19 mpg combined rating. Such is the price of perfection.

The MC20 starts in GT mode, and given the sharp response of the engine in this setting, it might as well stand for “Get into Trouble." It’s plenty quick, with the torque band hitting its stride at 3,500 rpm, and since the MC20 only weighs about 3,300 pounds, you feel like you can accelerate forever with little effort. If you don't hammer the throttle, however, the smooth, linear way the engine builds power makes it suitable for everyday driving. Switch to Sport mode by turning the knurled rim of the wheel-mounted drive select dial and the MC20 springs to life like it’s had one too many espressos. The pedals become more sensitive to inputs, the exhaust note has more rumble, the engine is more responsive, the shifts are more palpable, the reigns of the traction controls system start to loosen … you’re now into “Get into jail and throw away the key” mode. This mode is the perfect match for the MC20's head-turning design — sleek lines evoke Maseratis of the past and give it a modern flair. The ride can be a bit stiff at times, but the Maserati GranTurismo is available if you want something a little less spicy.

The MC20 doesn’t feel large but it’s bigger than you would think — its length is between a compact and midsize sedan. Visibility is good out of the front and sides thanks to a large windshield that wraps around leading to small-ish pillars and large side windows. Rear visibility is problematic since the glass is small and tapers. But hey, that's what the standard parking sensors and rearview camera are for. Thankfully, once you do slot into a parking space, the MC20 is easy to get in and out of thanks to the upward opening doors and low sill.

mclaren artura interior

Interior comparison

The McLaren and Maserati are all-new designs rather than evolutions of past models. The Artura's interior benefits from lessons learned from models like the 720S and 570GT. Those were supremely fast machines, and while they were well appointed, their interiors felt compromised. The seat controls on those older vehicles were awkwardly placed, but the new chassis and seat design make the controls much more accessible. The drive mode and stability control switches have moved and are both easier to reach and more straightforward to use than in past McLarens. Nothing you touch looks or feels cheap, especially things like the one-piece metal shift paddle or the buttons for the transmission.

The MC20's cabin is more performance-focused and makes ample use of lightweight carbon fiber throughout. There’s a 10.25-inch touchscreen front and center, with an infotainment system that's responsive and sharp and supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Seat adjustment controls are located snugly on the left side of your seat close to the door, and while reaching them can be a chore, you’ll have no issues finding a comfortable seating position. All controls are clearly labeled and easy to understand along with the drive mode dial, which is located conveniently on the steering wheel. The Alcantara and leather are nice to touch and feel appropriately suited to the MC20, given its supercar status. We just wish there was a traditional stick-shift transmission.

Practical supercars? Not really

Given that each vehicle employs a mid-mounted engine, storage is unsurprisingly limited. Both have cargo capacities listed at 5.3 cubic feet, but while the McLaren Artura exclusively uses a front-mounted trunk, the Maserati MC20 offers both a front and rear cargo area. The frunk of the MC20 is much smaller than the already tiny Artura's and fits nothing but a backpack, but the wider cargo area behind the engine should help accommodate items that wouldn't come close to fitting in the Artura. That said, we wouldn't recommend putting anything cold in the rear since that bin butts up against the engine compartment. As with our long-term Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, the MC20's trunk gets warm from the heat of the motor. Either way, neither car is good for more than a few bags of groceries.

McLaren Artura vs. Maserati MC20 side by side

Edmunds says

If you’re looking for a pair of supercars that can double as a grand tourer for daily driving, then you’ve come to the right place. The McLaren Artura and Maserati MC20 may go about it in different ways, and one is more of a throwback to simpler times, but they’re both comfortable, easy to drive, and have more than ample power. More importantly, they’re so fun to drive. Just don’t expect to go on a Costco run unless you’re only going for produce and a couple steaks.

Words: Reese Counts and Rex Tokeshi-Torres, Images: Ryan Greger