A Closer Look at the Nettuno Engine: Is It ‘100% Maserati’?

Maserati's Nettuno engine 6 photos
Photo: Maserati S.p.A.
Maserati MC20Maserati MC20Maserati MC20Maserati MC20Maserati Nettuno
Maserati has been struggling to regain its identity and it seeks to re-establish itself in the sports car world with the new MC20. The Modena-based company aims to distance itself from Ferrari and Alfa Romeo, brands that are part of the same FCA family. For the new car, the manufacturer claims to have developed a new V6 engine that it advertises as being “100% Maserati”. But is it?
The MC20 was scheduled to e release this year, but due to the ongoing pandemic, it has been postponed for next year. Right off the bat, claims that the new engine it uses was fully-designed from the ground up by Maserati were met with raised eyebrows.

The unit is called the Nettuno (Neptune in Italian) and was supposed to symbolize the beginning of a new era for the Italian manufacturer, which for the last twenty years has been using Ferrari powerplants to drive its vehicles.

The six-cylinder twin-turbo uses a 90-degree V architecture with a total displacement of 3.0-liters and, like all modern sports cars, it features a dry-sump lubrication system aided by scavenge pumps and an external oil tank. This lowers the center of gravity and improves lubrication under load.

The compact unit is 60 cm (24 in) long, 100 cm (39 in) wide, with a height of 65 cm (25.5 in), while weighing only 220 kg (485 lbs). The Nettuno shows that big things come in small packages, producing 621 hp (463 kW; 630PS) at 7,500 rpm and 729 Nm (538 lb-ft) of torque, which is available from 3,000 to 5,500 rpm. It redlines at 8,000 rpm and, despite the use of forced induction, has a high compression ratio of 11:1.

An investigation into the claim that it is “100% Maserati” was done by the folks at Road & Track, which demonstrated that it draws inspiration from the Ferrari F154 V8 and Alfa Romeo 690T engines.

Maserati Nettuno
Photo: Maserati S.p.A.
The 90-degree angle and rear layout come from the F154, along with the stroke length and the rev limit. As for the 1-6-3-4-2-5 firing order, R&T points out that it is identical to that of the 690T Alfa Romeo V6.

That said, Maserati's Nettuno introduces an innovative combustion system derived from Formula 1. It uses both direct and port injection, twin-spark plugs, and a combustion pre-chamber mounted between the central spark plug electrode and the traditional combustion chamber.

The system allows a second spark plug to act as a support, ensuring constant combustion when the engine is operating at a level that does not require the pre-chamber to kick-in. This system is indeed 100% Maserati.

Let's get one thing straight: the fact that it borrows technology from two existing units does not make the Nettuno a lesser powerplant. Quite the contrary, the innovations it delivers make it one of the most capable V6 engines out there.

The MC20 will be offered as a two-seater coupe or convertible, and apart from the twin-turbo V6, Maserati hinted that it would introduce an all-electric powertrain option in the future.

The mid-engined sports car will be available in showrooms in the fall of 2021 with prices starting at $210,000. Unlike the competition, no complimentary scheduled maintenance is included in the standard warranty.
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About the author: Vlad Radu
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Vlad's first car was custom coach built: an exotic he made out of wood, cardboard and a borrowed steering wheel at the age of five. Combining his previous experience in writing and car dealership years, his articles focus in depth on special cars of past and present times.
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