In director Federico Fellini’s atmospheric opus La Dolce Vita, roadsters play as pivotal a role in the meandering storyline as do its glamorous Romans. Could anyone imagine actress Anita Ekberg’s flowing blonde mane contained by a closed-up coupé?
Channeling that free-spirited theme, Maserati has just-unveiled the MC20 Cielo Spyder, which expands the MC20 supercar’s persona into a more extroverted and seemingly care-free direction. Yet, as we learned at the car’s debut here in Italy’s Motor Valley, the new Cielo—Italian for “sky”—has, in fact, incorporated rather reasonable, engineering-focused ways to make blowing your hair back an even more emotionally charged experience.
Maserati design boss Klaus Busse describes the MC20’s visual treatment as focused on “visual longevity and purity,” another way of saying that it’s less concerned with frivolity and fashion than enduring, clean looks. Busse contextualizes the modern Maserati brand in a way that flies in the face of many conventional opinions. “Design is the second most important thing on a Maserati,” he says. “Technology and performance are the first.”
Sure, Maserati has packed a number of tech innovations into its carbon-fiber supercar. And at least aesthetically, in coupé form, the MC20 carries an edge of seriousness with its angular nose, purposeful midsection and subtly arced shoulders. Ditch the fixed lid, and the Maserati’s roofline preserves much of its former sleekness, only adding an incremental amount of height to the carbon-fiber flying buttresses in order to accommodate the complex folding bits beneath. In order to keep the rear deck from looking bloated, designers convinced engineers to reposition it as low as possible, which entailed tactics like repositioning the engine’s wiring harness to a lower position in order to enhance the car’s overall visual proportions.
Like certain UK-based, carbon-bodied competitors, Maserati has incorporated an electrochromic “Smart Glass” window that promises to either block the sun or let in light at the touch of a button. However, unlike its peers from Surrey, Maserati’s system defaults to a fully opaque setting when power is not being fed to the system, creating a light-proof barrier as opposed to the competitor’s, which doesn’t fully block the solar rays. The Polymer-Dispersed Liquid Crystal folding roof adds a bit more complexity and weight compared to what a non-transparent panel would, helping bring the total weight gain to 143 pounds. But the performance figures remain essentially unchanged: zero to 62 mph in approximately 3 seconds flat, and a top speed in excess of 199 mph.
Responsible for those metrics is the Cielo’s twin-turbocharged Nettuno V-6 that screams to 8,000 rpm and produces 621 hp, identical figures to its coupé counterpart. Though the car’s stability control systems remain unaltered, the suspension settings have been fine tuned in order to accommodate the added weight. While we have yet to pilot the MC20 Cielo (watch this space for a first drive review), its athletic soul appears to have remained intact, apart from a recalibrated active rear differential which might yield slightly more predictable handling characteristics. Maserati claims the Cielo will offer best-in-class thermal insulation from the folding hardtop and a closing time of 12 seconds at speeds of up to 31 mph, offering a degree of versatility that makes it suitable for everyday use.
The Cielo’s roof structure might ruffle purists when the top is up, as the center section isn’t quite as streamlined as that of the fixed coupé’s. However, when the tonneau lifts and reveals a large trident logo embedded below the clear coat and finished in titanium, the MC20 becomes an intangibly cooler looking supercar whose spirit brings a bit more sprezzatura than the non-alfresco alternative.
The three-layer metallic launch color, dubbed Acquamarina, sets a subtly iridescent mood to the proceedings, emphasizing the model’s more elegant side. The convertible does not quite reach the languid hedonism and disillusionment of the film La Dolce Vita, but it certainly is a compelling way to let your hair down. The 2023 Maserati MC20 Cielo Spyder will reach US showrooms late this year.