A couple of months ago Maserati let everyone know that it was not only continuing to develop its MC20 supercar, but that it is developing its first 100 per cent in-house engine design for it. This new engine has an exciting new name; “Nettuno”. Ooooh. Aaaah. It’s a 621 horsepower/538 lb-ft twin-turbo three-litre V6, and according to Maserati it uses “Formula One technology” to do it.
Ferrari has already announced that it will eventually phase out building engines for Maserati products, which leaves Maser between a rock and a hard place. Luckily, while it still has some Ferrari drivetrains coming in, the company is investing in developing replacements. The Nettuno is the first of those new engines.
On September 9th and 10th, Maserati will host an event fully unveiling the MC20 sports car and detailing the future of the brand. “At the launch, new models will be revealed, which will go into production in the coming years, and innovative propulsion systems as well as ambitious programmes developed by the Casa del Tridente will be announced,” says Maserati.
The new engine announced on Wednesday is the beginning of that ambitious move forward for the brand. The 90 degree V6 will have all of the signs of a modern sports car engine, including dual overhead cams, 11:1 compression, dry sump oiling, an oversquare stroke ratio, and an 8,000 rpm redline. It has a really neat modern tech feature that separate it from a run-of-the-mill engine, however.
That tech is the so-called F1-derived pre-chamber ignition. With one injector pushing fuel into the pre-chamber and another pumping directly into the combustion chamber, the spark plug is placed in the pre-chamber to ignite the pre-chamber and shove a number of jets of burn into the combustion chamber, giving a more even distribution of explosive force. It’s difficult to explain in words, so check out Mahle’s video showing their integration of the tech. It’s fascinating.
The Maserati Nettuno has a second lateral sparkplug aimed into the combustion chamber. This allows the engine to provide constant combustion when it isn’t operating at full power levels and doesn’t need the pre-chamber to bang.
That jet ignition allows the new V6 to produce 207 horsepower per litre. It’s a pretty high specific output, to be fair, but doesn’t come even close to topping the charts. That honour belongs to Koenigsegg’s Jesko with 315.7 hp per litre.
While it will appear in the mid-engine MC20 first, there’s no telling what else Maserati will put this engine into. I hope that it becomes analogous to McLaren’s twin-turbo V8, and powers everything the company makes in various displacements, hybrid add-ons, and boost pressures.