- Photos: Maserati, McLaren

McLaren Artura vs. Maserati MC20 is the Godzilla vs. Kong of supercars

Here's a brief technical comparison between two upcoming supercars that seem so similar yet so different.

8w ago

Camaro vs. Mustang. Ferrari vs. Lamborghini. Mitsubishi Mirage vs. walking. As much a part of human nature as war, car rivalries have been ongoing since the second car rolled out of the workshop, and this upcoming pair of high-dollar titans from Europe are no exception: Maserati's gorgeous MC20 and McLaren's tech-savvy Artura.

Both cars seem quite similar as mid-range, six-cylinder supercars with which each company can bring their engineers' highest aspirations to life. However, like Godzilla and King Kong, these beasts couldn't be any more different in going about their business. Both are powerful titans, yes, but one's a freaking several-million-year-old, radioactive, fire-breathing dinosaur, and the other is a monkey with thumbs and a can-do attitude. Not too far-fetched from Godzilla and Kong, one car is a high-tech marvel from a marque that's been claiming victories for a decade, and the other is a relatively-simple offering which will serve as its creator's first true supercar in years.

With memes about an ancient super dragon vs. Super Harambe flooding my social media feeds, it seems quite fitting to ask one thing: which side do you stand by?

Godzilla: McLaren Artura

Makes sense, doesn't it? With all the science and techno-wizardy involved in the Artura as well as McLaren's success pumping hot ticket cars, it would be reasonable to associate it with the mighty kaiju himself. As Godzilla has been the alleged "King of Monsters," McLaren has been fighting to be the King of Supercars since it rose from the murky depths over a decade back, evident in the accolades and praises they've received. The Artura pushes back against its competition with an arsenal of incredibly clever engineering and a hyper-advanced suite of electronics.

First, we can't discuss the McLaren without briefly mentioning that name, "Artura." Get that! A mainstream production McLaren with an actual name! McLaren claims it's a reference to both the art of design and the future it holds for the brand. I'm not sure if it'll invoke orgasms quite like "Enzo" or "Aventador," but it's definitely a far cry from the likes of the MP4-12CD-ROM 4K HD 7.62 FMJ from over a decade ago.

Motivating the latest McLaren model is an all-new M630 V6, a 3.0-liter, 120-degree, twin-turbocharged engine producing 577 horsepower and 431 lb-ft of torque. That may not sound like much more than the 570S it replaces, but wait until you see the Artura's atomic breath in the form of a 7.4-kWh battery energizing an axial flux motor which outputs 94 horsepower and 166 lb-ft. Total system output is plentiful 671 horsepower and 531 lb-ft, and redline is a Tokyo Tower-rivaling 8,500 rpm. Such a powertrain makes the Artura the first McLaren hybrid since the P1 hypercar and the first mainstream hybrid in McLaren's lineup.

A 120-degree layout for the V6 allows for it to be mounted lower than the previous 90-degree V8 as well as a hot-vee turbocharger layout which makes more efficient use of space and reduces turbo lag. The "hot" part of hot-vee is dealt with via a literal chimney in the heat shielding that vents air out of the mesh engine cover. The use of a V6 also reportedly cuts weight by approximately 110 pounds, helpful when you're seeking to add weight back with a hybrid system.

Speaking of, the axial flux motor is some seriously trick shit and not some '80s time machine malarkey. The explanation behind axial flux motors was something I had a difficult time wrapping my feeble mind around, but the end result is essentially a motor that's more compact and capable of generating more torque than the common radial flux motors found in most EVs and hybrids today. Axial flux motors are usually more expensive and difficult to manufacturer relative to radial flux and, as a result, are currently seldom found in cars aside from the Artura and Ferrari's SF90.

Its compactness enables the motor to sit neatly within the powertrain where the flywheel would be. A third clutch in the car's eight-speed, triple-clutch transmission exists solely to decouple the transmission and engine to enable an all-electric driving range of approximately 19 miles. Otherwise, the transmission functions and shifts as a normal dual-clutch. Interestingly, the Artura will always reverse under all-electric power as the transmission houses no reverse gear.

Like the 570S, the handling department is dealt with via adaptive dampers, carbon ceramic brakes, an electro-hydraulic power steering system which was kept for its steering feel, and traditional sway bars (that fancy-schmancy hydraulically-linked setup is reserved for the mightier 720S). All these components bolt up to the latest generation of McLaren's carbon tubs which is lighter and stronger than ever enabling a curb weight of approximately 3,300 pounds.

Kong: Maserati MC20

Left to play a plain ol' monkey, the Maserati MC20 storms onto the battleground seemingly outgunned by the space-age Artura. It lacks its horsepower and trick hybrid system, but, like the big ape himself, aims to leave quite a bruise in spite of its relative simplicity. Italian supercars often have an eager, can-do attitude towards the art of driving, and the Trident's offering has lofty dreams in a field of true titans where 700 horsepower and ten-second quarter-miles are the norm.

Born with aspirations to bring the Maserati marque back to the circuit, the MC20 follows in the footsteps of the highly-memorable MC12. Low-slung. Light. Mid-engined. A truly pleasant surprise from a brand currently known for okay-ish luxury cars with hopes bigger than a Ghibli's panel gaps. It will serve as their first mainstream production supercar ever, and their first supercar since the limited-run, Enzo-based MC12 hung up its racing shoes in 2005.

In the traditional Italian sense of passionate craftsmanship and design, Maserati was proud to announce the all-new, Formula 1-inspired Nettuno V6 which will be exclusive to the MC20. The Nettuno displaces the same three liters as the Artura's M630, but it makes do with 621 horsepower, down 50 ponies. Torque, however, is up seven to 538 lb-ft. Peak power arrives at 7,500 rpm, and redline is 8,000, meaning this mill will be a screamer as all Italian engines should be.

Yes, there will reportedly be an electric MC20 with a 235-mile range and better performance in the near future, but the car will initially launch as a gas-only swan song to internal combustion. Rather than introduce hybridization, a great deal of the technology featured in the powertrain will be utilized to comply with ever-strangulating emissions regulations while maintaining strong power figures.

The turbos hang off the Nettuno like an old-school tuner, but it wouldn't necessarily be fair to call it old-school. It wields its own unique tricks to help it hold its own against the atomic breath electrification of the Artura with the mindset that more is better. The 3.0-liter V6 utilizes 12 spark plugs and 12 combustion chambers to ignite the air-fuel mixture at multiple points which allegedly increases horsepower without the need for larger turbos while also reducing lag. The use of the Formula 1-derived "pre-chamber" can be used on its own, not at all, or in conjuction with the standard combustion chamber depending on power and efficiency needs.

Power will be sent through a fairly standard eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, no added trickery to accommodate an electric motor. Nothing groundbreaking in the world of supercar gearboxes. Someone bring back the gated manual! Pagani? Anyone?

The chassis is a carbon tub constructed by racing chassis builders, Dallara, who also did carbon tubs for the Bugatti Chiron and Alfa 4C (prototype MC20s were seen on modified 4C platforms). Electronically adjustable suspension and drivetrain settings can be programmed to one of five switchable drive modes akin to Ferraris and can be adjusted independently like Porsches or McLarens. Thankfully, however, Dallara's carbon magic seems to have paid off with a svelte curb weight of 3,240 pounds sure to benefit agility.

If Maserati does have other technological tricks up the MC20's sleeve to aid speed and handling, it can be expected that they won't be as intricate and sophisticated as McLaren's tech. The centerpiece of the MC20's entire debut last summer was first and foremost the Nettuno engine.

A clear winner?

Keyboard warriors will be quick to point out the Artura's obvious advantages just like how memers are quick to point out Godzilla's, but with these two titans, the answer doesn't seem all that simple the closer you look.

The McLaren has more adjustability, more power, will likely make more torque down low with less lag, and it will be far more economical. Additionally, it hails from a brand that's been arguably dominant in its segment if not putting up a fierce fight against other monsters from Maranello, Stuggart, or Sant'Agata Bolognese. It's a brand that where faith in its performance can be well-rested.

On the other hand, the Maserati will appeal to buyers aiming for a bit more simplicity and elegance in their supercars and don't necessarily want a hybridized science project. It's similar to why some buyers continuously chose the Porsche 911 back in the day when the R35 GT-R was faster. Its engine will likely be more characterful, and it could have an overall more charming feel befitting of its elegant styling and Italian heritage. The MC20 could also reportedly start at under $200,000, potentially undercutting the Artura by over thirty grand. Zoinks.

What do you, the DriveTribe audience, think? Which one from a styling and technical standpoint takes the cake for you? The mega-powerful hybrid lab project from Surrey or the purer, elegant design study with racing aspirations from Modena?

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Comments (23)

  • 992 GT3 will hopefully dab on them both

      1 month ago
    • Let’s just pretend that car isn’t real for now LMAO. But yes. And a C8 Z06 will dab on all three.

        1 month ago
    • As if a Corvette will have either of these🤣

        1 month ago
  • I don't even need to think a second to choose heritage and looks and the sound of that Italian engine over the physics class. I don't care about track time or straight line speed or quarter mile time, those aren't relevant in the real world.

      1 month ago
  • I'll take a lightly used 488 and pocket the change, ta!

    Side note: That Maserati looks better every time I see it.

    Cracking write-up, mate.

      1 month ago
  • Given a choice between these two, and deep pockets. I'll take the Maserati. I find it much better looking. Open market, I'd go with an R8. Less expensive than both, I find it better looking than both, cheaper maintenance, and.......V10!

      1 month ago
  • Great write up Jeric. Very enjoyable. To answer the question posed I would go Italian. Don't care for McLaren. The Artura is no exception. Give me the Mazer and let it SCREAM.

    This line made me crack up ... "monkey with thumbs and a can-do attitude".

    and again with this one ... " MP4-12CD-ROM 4K HD 7.62 FMJ from over a decade ago." 🤣

      1 month ago
    • I’ve always liked McLaren, I even really liked the MP4-12CD-ROM PS4 GTA 5. The Artura is likely going to be the dominant performer and more precise.

      But I side Maserati too simply because I love a good underdog story, and I want the MC20 to be...

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        1 month ago