Maserati MC20 Cielo convertible supercar makes its debut in time for summer
Following in the footsteps of Maserati’s MC20 fixed-roof supercar, the Italian brand has unveiled the MC20 Cielo, a convertible ‘spyder’ model based on the same carbon fibre chassis.
‘Cielo’ translated from Italian means ‘Sky’, so the MC20 spyder has been given an appropriate moniker, joining the line-up with the same advanced underpinnings and powertrain technology. The brand says that “Cielo highlights the fact that it is a model devoted to driving pleasure in the great outdoors, while maintaining all the prerogatives of a true super sports car”.
While the MC20 Cielo is a convertible, like many modern supercars the roof opening is small, closer in concept to a targa top, to retain as much body rigidity as possible. This means that the MC20 Cielo carries a minimal weight penalty compared with the coupe.
Unlike any of its rivals, the MC20 Cielo’s roof consists of a folding glass panel that features Polymer-Dispersed Liquid Crystal (PDLC) technology that means the panel can either be fully opaque or fully transparent, switchable instantly at the touch of a button.
The roof takes 12 seconds to raise or lower and can be activated on the move at up to 31mph. It folds away into a void behind the two-seat passenger compartment that’s concealed beneath a carbon fibre deck lid emblazoned with an oversized Maserati trident logo.
The Cielo’s carbon fibre monocoque – designed in partnership with Italian race car builder Dallara and weighing around 100kg – is identical in size and shape to the MC20 coupe’s but features a different lay-up pattern to the carbon fibre weave to account for the Cielo’s lack of a fixed roof. There are also additional longitudinal strengthening bars in the doors, as well as a one-piece ‘basket’ panel at the rear where the folded roof sits to increase rigidity.
Engine and performance
According to Francesco Tonon, Maserati’s head of global product planning, the brand has “achieved the same level of performance as the MC20 coupe as we have managed to contain the extra weight to 65kg.” The MC20 Cielo’s claimed weight is 1,540kg.
The MC20 Cielo is powered by the same 3.0-litre twin-turbo ‘Nettuno’ V6 engines as the coupe, which features F1-derived pre-chamber ignition tech and both direct and indirect fuel injection to deliver 621bhp and 730Nm of torque, the latter spread between 3,000 and 5,500rpm.
The V6 engine is mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox that sends its output to the rear axle only through an electronically controlled limited-slip differential. Thanks to launch control, the MC20 Cielo will sprint from 0-62mph in “approximately 3.0 seconds”, but if it’s to match the coupe’s benchmark sprint as claimed it’ll have to do it in 2.9.
Top speed is reduced slightly compared with the coupe’s, although Maserati still claims more than 198mph. The MC20 Cielo’s drag coefficient only increases by 0.01 over the coupe, to 0.39Cd.
Suspension and driving modes
Sharing its suspension layout with the coupe but featuring slightly firmer springs and damper rates to account for the marginal increase in weight, the MC20 Cielo features double wishbones with adaptive dampers all round, the latter linked to the car’s new digital drive mode selector that will also feature on 2023 model year MC20 coupes. Five drive modes are available, including Wet, GT (the default setting on start-up), Sport, Corsa, and ESC Off.
Wet mode limits the engine’s turbo boost and torque, relaxes the gearbox’s shift speed and the sensitivity of the pedals, and puts the suspension in its softest setting.
GT keeps the suspension in this mode but selects a default baseline setting for the powertrain and its responses.
Sport heightens this sensitivity to inputs with the throttle further still, sharpens up the transmission’s shifts and stiffens up the suspension – although drivers can still independently soften the dampers off for bumpier tarmac.
Corsa ramps everything up one step further still (the dampers can be dialled back to the Sport setting), loosening the ESC’s grip slightly, while ESC Off removes the electronic safety net completely.
Technology and prices
Above the drive mode selector is the MC20 Cielo’s 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment set-up running the Maserati Intelligent Assistant system powered by Android Automotive, which is joined by a digital dash of the same size.
All multimedia and climate functions are controlled through this panel, while the voice control function with Amazon Alexa compatibility is carried over for this open-top car. Like the coupe, the MC20 Cielo also features a digital rear-view mirror to help visibility.
When it comes to practicality (admittedly a secondary concern for many supercar buyers), the MC20 Cielo retains the coupe’s butterfly doors that pivot upwards and out, and while the 50-litre front load area is retained, so is the coupe’s 100-litre rear luggage volume, which is unimpeded by the folding roof.
The MC20 Cielo also ushers-in a round of MY23 updates for the coupe, as well as a new Aquamarina launch colour. The car’s new digital drive mode selector is joined by a new Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel with a blue start button referencing the MC12. New wheels are added (forged items saving 17kg and full carbon fibre rims shaving 28kg from the kerb weight are both available) as well as more ADAS tech including autonomous braking and traffic sign recognition, plus a 360-degree surround-view camera system.
The MC20 Cielo is set to go on sale at the end of May with the convertible predicted to account for around 40 per cent of MC20 production. Maserati has confirmed it’ll carry a price premium of €30,000 (around £25,600) over the coupe, so the Cielo will likely cost just over £215,000 in the UK. Deliveries begin at the end of the year.
Q&A Klaus Busse, Maserati Vice President Design
Q: How did you manage to keep the MC20 Cielo’s profile so similar to the coupe’s?
A: “That was the hardest single challenge of the project. The rear [deck height] had to come up to fit the roof in – or the coupe would have been designed too high! We had to come up with a way to mask the mass visually, so we created these speed shapes you see behind the passenger compartment that sit either side of the roof.
“The rear line defines the entire height of the car, the luggage space, it’s critical for the overall line of the car. The speed shapes hide the increase in deck height from the side – you can only see it from the rear.
“We don’t do decoration on a Maserati, all of the lines had to be functional.”
Q: Apart from the roof, are there any other changes to the MC20 Cielo’s body?
A: “We have changed the positioning of some cooling vents – the panel covering the roof space doesn’t have the big vents in it like with the coupe, so at the rear of the body work we added some more exits to help cooling.
“But the upper part of the car is clean, it’s pure sculpture. The lower part of the car is technical, carbon fibre, and was designed in real-time with the aerodynamics. It’s symbolic of the relationship between design and engineering.”
Q: Longevity is a key pillar of Maserati design. As the MC20 Folgore emerges and you have more freedom – blanking of grilles as less cooling is required, for example – how do you keep the design faithful to the MC20 family?
A: “Like the Grecale Folgore we have shown, we can still keep the vertical bars and the trident emblem in the grille for example, but these can be a negative of what we have now, so the bars and the badge are vents [EVs still need some cooling], rather than the other way round.
“When it comes to other parts of the body, where they affect cooling or aerodynamics, body parts for the EV will change. It’s exciting.”
Now read our review of the new Maserati MC20 here…
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