The dashboard of the Maserati MC20 supercar may be minimalistic, but there is no lack of technology that gives Android Automotive OS the fastest ride yet. The new MC20, announced this week, is the automaker’s opportunity to reboot into its range, with an emphasis on differentiating itself from other vehicles from its FCA owners.
It’s also a chance to get acquainted with cutting edge technology. While unsurprisingly the exterior of the MC20 has drawn the most attention so far, in addition to the performance promised by the new 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 engine, some of the biggest improvements are in the cabin.
The current Maserati models have relied quite heavily on the Fiat Chrysler parts bins. Whether it’s a switchgear familiar from the 300 or Pacifica or the Dodge Challenger’s slightly redesigned infotainment system, even if the exterior can be distinguished, the interior technology can often feel overwhelming. It’s a criticism Maserati just won’t face for the MC20.
The dashboard is cut back and focused. A widescreen digital display for the driver’s indications; A touchscreen in the middle for infotainment. There are important controls on the steering wheel that minimize movement when accessing things like start mode. The rest is in the center tunnel, simple turning knobs and large buttons that don’t distract from the road.
It’s a clean look that hides a lot of complexity. The MC20 is running Android Automotive OS, Google’s version of Android designed to run natively on vehicles instead of simply being projected from a connected smartphone. The new Maserati won’t be the first car to hit the market with this platform – that will be the Polestar 2 EV, which Volvo, Audi, and GM have also signed up to use Android Automotive – but it will be the MC20 undoubtedly being the fastest offering it.
The important thing is that it doesn’t look like we already saw it in Polestar 2. The MIA, or Maserati Intelligent Assistant, is fully personalized to suit the automaker’s own aesthetic. Both 10.25-inch screens have consistent interfaces.
However, the connection with Google opens the door to features that many supercars miss. It’s a cruel auto industry truth that while performance vehicles have the speed and handling to drop jaws, their infotainment and tech attitudes often only cause rolling eyes. Building a cohesive and powerful software experience – along with all of the apps and services that come with it – is no small undertaking, especially if you are a boutique maker of six-digit coupes.
However, behind the MIA is Google’s programmer. That means Google Maps for navigation with real-time traffic and map updates. Support for the Google Play Store for third-party software and add-ons. And the Google assistant for voice control, which actually works and is not just annoying.
Over time, the MC20 driver has the potential to benefit from his more distant cousins. One of the strengths of the Google platform is the ability to collect anonymized data from each vehicle and get live updates on traffic conditions, weather and even the condition of the road surface. This data can possibly be summarized and made available for all vehicles based on Android Automotive OS. In short, you may not know of any other MC20 owner, but you can still benefit from iced road warnings from the Polestar or Volvo in your area.
Plus, there’s the promise of high-end audio from an optional 12-speaker Sonus Faber system, plus native TIDAL streaming support to make sure you have the tracks to use. A digital rearview mirror bypasses the usual criticism a midsize supercar has of mediocre rearward visibility and shines the feed from a live camera onto a display above the windshield.
Few will experience the MC20, let alone their own. This is ensured by a price of over 210,000 US dollars. With Maserati promising a reinvention of the entire lineup – including the soon-to-be-all-electric new GranTurismo and GranCabrio, as well as an all-electric MC20 – there’s a good chance the big improvements this supercar cabin showcases will carry over to reachable cars.