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.
2023 Maserati MC20 Cielo
2023 Maserati MC20 Cielo Review
- Drop-dead gorgeous styling
- High performance limits but relatively docile and easy to handle
- More comfortable than a typical supercar
- Ample road and wind noise at highway speeds
- Lacks storage, even for a sports car
- Limited rear visibility
- Convertible model debuts for 2023
- No changes for coupe model
- Part of the first MC20 generation introduced in 2022
Maserati has long lingered in the shadow of Ferrari, its former corporate cousin and longtime engine supplier. And while the brand has been reborn under the stewardship of the now-defunct Fiat group, Maserati has lacked an uber-performance model to compete with its Italian rival. That's all changed with the 2023 Maserati MC20.
Built on a bespoke, aluminum and carbon-fiber chassis made by Dallara, a race car manufacturer, the 621-horsepower MC20 puts Maserati right back in the conversation with exotics from McLaren, Lamborghini, Aston Martin and, yes, Ferrari. The MC20's twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine is the first Maserati engine developed in-house in about 20 years, and it ends Maserati's reliance on Ferrari power to infuse its cars with a bit of extra shine. The V6, combined with the car's relatively light mass, propels the MC20 from 0 to 60 mph in about 3.0 seconds and on to a top speed of 202 mph.
The MC20's prodigious power is matched by firm brakes, a sporty but compliant suspension, and predictable handling that keeps the car's elite capabilities within the grasp of mere mortal drivers. Like the original Acura NSX, the MC20 is a supercar docile enough to drive every day without fear. Your requirements for "everyday" comfort may vary, however. While the MC20 isn't intimidating, performance remains its purpose. In its default drive mode (there are five different modes), the suspension is gentle enough for daily driving and even drives farther afield. It rides well on the street and doesn't punish passengers with stiff seats or a backbreaking ride.
But at highway speeds, road noise is prominent and you'll hear every pebble bounce off the carbon-fiber underbody. And even by supercar standards, the MC20's scant 5 cubic feet of cargo space is laughably small. Best to pack light when setting off on those road trips. You also won't find many driver assistance features — they're complex, add weight and undermine the MC20's focus. Still, there's a backup camera, digital rearview mirror and an optional blind-spot warning system.
For 2023, the MC20 coupe carries over unchanged. But there's a new convertible version called the MC20 Cielo, with a retractable hardtop and electrochromic roof panel. The MC20 Cielo is reviewed separately. In the narrow gap between sports cars and supercars, few vehicles compete with the Maserati MC20. Those that do are a rarefied group that include the Lamborghini Huracan, McLaren Artura, Ferrari Roma, Aston Martin DB11 and Porsche 911 Turbo S. The MC20 finally gives Maserati a conversation starter that can run in the same circles.
Which MC20 Cielo does Edmunds recommend?
Maserati MC20 Cielo models
There's only one trim level for the 2023 MC20. Standard features include:
- 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 engine (621 horsepower and 538 lb-ft of torque)
- Eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission
- Mechanical limited-slip differential (helps maximize available traction during hard acceleration)
- 20-inch wheels with summer performance tires
- Six-piston front and four-piston rear brake calipers
- Adaptive suspension dampers (help improve ride comfort and handling stability)
- Remote start
- Keyless entry and ignition
- Leather and synthetic suede upholstery
- Six-way power-adjustable sport seats
- Dual-zone automatic climate control
- 10.25-inch infotainment screen with Android-based system
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Wireless charging pad
- Parking sensors (alert you to obstacles that may not be visible in front of or behind the vehicle when parking)
- Digital rearview mirror (allows you to see out the back even with a fully loaded cargo area)
The great thing about sports cars like the MC20 are the stand-alone options lists. Rather than bundling everything into packages, Maserati offers most options individually. Some notable add-ons include:
- Carbon-fiber exterior package (replaces standard front splitter, rear diffuser, rocker panels and hood with carbon-fiber material and adds darkened exhaust tips)
- Lightweight 20-inch carbon-fiber wheels
- Carbon-ceramic brakes (can provide better resistance to brake fade during high-performance driving)
- Suspension lifter (raises front end at low speeds to avoid scraping expensive body pieces)
- Electronic limited-slip differential (further improves traction and stability)
- Carbon-fiber roof
- Synthetic suede dash and door panels
- Four-way adjustable lightweight seats
- Heated front seats
- 12-speaker Sonus Faber audio system
- Blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic warning (alerts you if a vehicle is in your blind spot during a lane change or while in reverse)
2023 Maserati MC20 Cielo First Impressions
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.