Chasing the big hitters
Maserati will break new ground with its next two models
ANOTHER mid-size prestige saloon is being prepared to take on the big European hitters from Germany.
Fresh from hinting at a new SUV to take on the Porsche Cayenne, Maserati has quietly let it slip that it is finalising details of its 5-Series/A6/EClass rival. The saloon, effectively a downsized Quattroporte, may be ready for sale in Europe by late 2013.
It will be joined in the showroom by the new Quattroporte which, it has been suggested to
Carsguide while in Modena, Italy, will be slightly bigger to emphasise more cabin room.
The mid-size car will use a tweaked version of the 4.2-litre V8 and the option of the 4.7-litre V8. It will have a conventional drivetrain with a six-speed ZF automatic— and double-wishbone suspension at all corners.
The new Quattroporte will have only the 4.7-litre engine, but in two states of tune.
It is understood the new SUV— a tall coupe-styled car with all-wheel drive— will use drivetrain components and probably the platform of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, but not with a Ferrari V12 as has been suggested. A diesel engine hasn’t been discussed.
The SUV is regarded as the belated production version of the 2003 Kubang concept, designed by Giugiaro.
A Maserati spokesman said the new mid-size and the bigger saloon were being formulated for final design and engine choices.
The possibilities are greater after the company’s boom production year and a $35 million profit, plus the support of its parent Fiat. Maserati has reported its 2010 profit, together with the year’s 5777 unit sales, which was up about 18 per cent on 2009.
Maserati spokesman Luca Dal Monte admits 2009 was a depressed year because of the GFC— but one in which it still reported a $15 million profit on sales of less than 5000 cars.
However, it is a far cry from the record sales year of 2008, when Maserati made 8586 cars and one that may not be repeated soon. Dal Monte predicts 2011 will have ‘‘ about the same sales as 2010’’.
When asked whether product development would be stifled by modest sales increases, he said that it was incidental, adding: ‘‘ Profit doesn’t affect future development . . . we are part of the Fiat Group.’’
Fiat bought Maserati in 1993 but it wasn’t until 2007 that it made its first profit for some decades. In 2008, thanks to new models, profit tripled over 2007 to about $110 million.
The 2010 year saw a 47 per cent increase in sales in the US; 54 per cent in China (off a low base, as 402 cars sold that year); and 46 per cent in the UK.
Earlier this month, Maserati opened a dealership in India.
Maserati, like Ferrari, builds to customer orders under the philosophy of making ‘‘ one car less than is ordered’’. It carries no stock, which has a minimal downside for the company should global car sales slump.
Built to order: The Maserati Gran Turismo MCStradale and (below) the Kubang