Languid. Not an adjective you tend to associate with supercars, but there’s something in the Maserati MC20 Cielo's character that brings this word to mind, even when you’re cracking on. Why? Not because it's lazy, but because its deep well of ability allows you to feel unexpectedly relaxed.
This is a car you can lean on, even over demanding roads. It has tremendous pace, what with 620bhp to dispense and, still more handily, a 538lb ft slug of easy-access torque. It has massive carbonfibre brakes that don't wilt. Its structural core is carbonfibre and, even after decapitation, that core is exceptionally stiff. Its wheels hang from coil-sprung double wishbones, damping control effected both adaptively and adjustably. And there are four dynamic management modes – Wet, GT, Sport and Corsa – that reveal a wide ranging character achieved through an impressive dynamic repertoire.
It’s a repertoire that reflects Maserati's long history of building cars of potent refinement and classy style, to satisfying effect. This isn't a car that shouts speed with aerodynamic visual aids, an excess of air intakes, a menacing face or wild colours. “It’s elegant, not arrogant,” explains Gianluca Antinori, its engineering chief.
The MC20 Cielo’s dynamic insouciance shouldn't be mistaken for a lack of hardcore talent. Out test drive runs in countryside close to Mount Etna, whose sulphurous mouth can often be smelt in the air. The roads here are a mix of wide-open, intestinally tight, flood-damaged and slippery with sea salt, a combination to stretch the chassis of any car.
And so to those modes. For GT read comfort, the Maserati pretty supple if a shade springy, its ride well suited to urban work or cruising along a seafront, roof off, windows down, cool air washing lusciously through the cabin. Sport can be used most of the time, the firmer ride providing more complete body control, the eight-speed transmission serving torquier, lower-gear lunges more readily – although many will prefer paddling themselves.