Auto blogMon, 07 Jan 2013 17:01:00 EST
Autocar's Steve Sutcliffe took the 2014 Maserati Quattroporte on a spin along snowy mountain roads to test it for a specific brief: as a limousine for the chauffeured class. It's sporting credentials are impressive: Twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V8, 532 horsepower, 475 pound-feet of torque in casual circumstances that rises to 532 lb-ft in overboost, a 0-to-60 mile-per-hour sprint of 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 191 mph.
However, citing Maserati's desire to not just increase its sales to 50,000-per-annum by 2015, but to sell many more of its cars in China, Sutcliffe wanted to find out if the livery side of the Quattroporte could match its sport sedan side. So after taking the pilot's seat and trying out the sport settings, Sutcliffe hops in back to test out the CEO's seat.
Then he compares the Quattroporte against the long-wheelbase Jaguar XJ with its supercharged V8, a sedan that's 15,000 pounds less expensive than the Maserati. It doesn't take long for him to find that one of them is a clear winner when it comes to transporting VIPs. To find out which one, enjoy the video below.
While it was in development, Maserati rolled out its 2014 Quattroporte for a little testing, but rather than slather the big luxury sedan in gobs of camouflage to protect from it prying eyes, engineers used the cover of darkness to conceal the vehicle's design. Then they made a video about their cleverness and posted it on the Internet. The team spent some time whipping around the Balocco Proving Ground with chief test driver Fabrizio Galvan at the controls to evaluate the sedan's new drivetrain, noise levels and handling in the real world.
We got our hands on the 2014 Quattroporte last month for a first drive ahead of the vehicle's North American debut at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show. You can read our impressions here, but first, take a look at the video below for a new glimpse at the machine's development.
It isn't a secret that Maserati is planning a product expansion in an attempt sell 50,000 units annually by 2015, but the automaker hasn't officially announced just how it plans to do so. Yes, we've seen (and driven) the 2014 Quattroporte, checked out spy shots for the smaller Ghibli sedan and Maserati even confirmed the Levante name for its SUV, but a leaked document reported by CarScoop could shed some light on how the Italian automaker intends on carrying out its rapid growth.
According to the image, the new Ghibli and Levante models will considerably lower the entry price point for the Maserati brand with the sedan having a price range from around $72,000 up to just over the $100,000 mark, with the SUV starting at close to $80,000 and topping out at almost $200,000. It also looks like the GranTurismo and GranCabrio will be getting redesigned in the near future at which point the new Gran Sport model will be added to the mix - otherwise known as the which often-rumored sports car with which Maserati will do battle with the Porsche 911.
Looking to better compete with mainstream luxury automakers, Maserati has already announced its plans for expanding its model lineup. Now, these spy shots give us our first look at a new, smaller sedan that resurrects the Maserati Ghibli nameplate. Seen for the first time as a prototype rather than a Quattroporte-based test-mule, this is the closest-to-production view of the upcoming Ghibli thus far.
Aside from its name, we don't know much about the 2014 Ghibli, but we do hear that this Maserati, like the upcoming Maserati Levante SUV, will have a direct lineage to a Chrysler product. While the Levante will be based on the Jeep Grand Cherokee, it sounds like the Ghibli could use the Chrysler 300 as its starting point. This means that the standard version of the car could get Chrysler's 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 - rumored to produce around 400 horsepower - paired with the latest eight-speed automatic transmission; sportier trim levels would almost certainly get a V8 from Ferrari rather than using the 300C's Hemi.
As for some of the details apparent in the spy photos, we can obviously see the size difference between these two cars when comparing previous spy shots of the newly released 2014 Quattroporte, which we drove last week. We also see that this car gets some performance-oriented, cross-drilled brake rotors, and based on the depth of the snow in which this car was caught testing, we also wouldn't rule out the use of all-wheel-drive on the Ghibli.
Maserati's product plans have taken a few wild turns, but as we get closer to production dates for the long-awaited offerings things are getting a wee bit clearer. The the sixth-generation Maserati Quattroporte is here, and a quick recap according to a report in Car and Driver has the smaller Ghibli sedan on Chrysler's LX/LY platform next, then the next-generation GranTurismo coupe and cabrio on a Maserati platform, then the Kubang SUV concept (pictured) that, for production, will become the larger Jeep-Cherokee-based Levante SUV.
All of which gets us to 2015. That same year, according to the report, the Levante will get a brother: a smaller SUV or crossover, perhaps sized like the Kubang concept, to challenge the Audi Q5 and the Porsche Macan. It is predicted to use the Compact US Wide platform, built for front-wheel and all-wheel-drive vehicles, that supports the Dodge Dart and 2014 Alfa Romeo Giulia. In addition to giving the premium brand a competitor in what is a very popular segment, a Maserati move slightly downmarket can help fill a gap while Fiat brass figures out what to do with Lancia.
Vastly Upgraded Italian Speed Sedan Kicks Off Brand Renaissance
The sixth-generation Maserati Quattroporte is big - and not just because it's 6.5 inches longer than before with a wheelbase that stretches 4.3 inches beyond its predecessor. The new Quattroporte is big also because it's a huge deal both for its segment and for Maserati. Just as FoMoCo is finally chucking $1 billion at Lincoln MoCo, so too is Fiat investing 1.2 billion euros ($1.55 billion at the time this writing) in Maser's future hopes of achieving the larger success we all have wished for it. And after a thorough drive over the intensely challenging mountain roads of France's Mediterranean coast, we can't deny that there's finally reason to put some faith in this long overdue investment.
The much-applauded outgoing Quattroporte enjoyed a reputation of being among the very fastest executive sedans of its day, all while delivering the sportiest overall ride and handling, even in base trims. Yet there was constant corporate-level dysfunction that kept all Maseratis from getting important upgrades or receiving much-needed investment support. So, the outgoing Quattroporte has up until now sort of languished nobly, largely resting on the laurels it earned when it launched way back in 2003.
Europe's continuing financial woe is forcing automakers to get creative, and while Fiat may be scaling back its volume vehicles, it's looking to ramp up production of the exclusive Maserati brand. Following the debut of a new Quattroporte sedan, Fiat wants to boost Maserati sales to 50,000 vehicles by 2015. Maserati may lose as much as €7 million ($9.05 million) this year, and Fiat is betting big on Chrysler platforms and dealers to turn that around.
Currently regarded as a low-volume boutique carmaker, Maserati sold just 6,159 units last year, and 4,700 units through three quarters of this year. For 2013, Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne is targeting 13,000 in sales of the redesigned Quattroporte alone. Fiat apparently wants the brand's low volume image to change, hoping to position it closer to BMW and Porsche in the market.
The recent unveiling of the new Quattroporte will be followed by more new vehicle launches, including a crossover utility called Levante, and a long-promised sub-Quattroporte sedan, called Ghibli. The latter will share certain components with the Chrysler 300 sedan in an effort to optimize production costs. The Ghibli will be positioned to take on the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. It's all in an effort to turn the profit tide for Maserati and its parent company Fiat amidst European economic turmoil.
As we wait for the Detroit Auto Show to get our up-close and in-depth look at the redesigned 2014 Maserati Quattroporte, some details are just starting to emerge about the car's powertrain, but nothing is official just yet. Autocar has posted a first drive of the new Quattroporte, finally spilling the beans about what motivates this sporty and luxurious sedan.
We already knew that the 2014 Quattroporte will offer two engines - a V6 and V8 - but what we didn't know is that both engines will get a pair of turbochargers and direct injection. Previously, we speculated that the smaller V6 would be supercharged, but this 3.0-liter V6 will get turbos instead helping it produce an estimated 410 horsepower. As for the larger 3.8-liter V8, this engine is said to produce 530 horsepower (confirming our previous report) to go with 479 pound-feet of torque; performance specs for the V8 include a top speed of 191 miles per hour and a 0-60 mph time of well under five seconds.
All cars will have a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive will be optional allowing for all of the engine power sent to the rear wheel during normal driving and a full 50/50 split between front and rear axles when needed. As we suspected, the 2014 Quattroporte has grown in size to better compete with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
In case you missed it, Maserati has decided to introduce the world to its next Quattroporte well ahead of its official debut at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show in January. As expected, it's beautiful.
Not content to leave well enough alone, the Italian automaker has revealed a series of videos to go along with the six images and press release it had already let loose upon the globe's unsuspecting automotive press.
We're still a bit shaky on the details, but Maserati says the Quattroporte's new engine, assembled by Ferrari in Maranello, will "[establish] new benchmarks for Maserati in terms of power and acceleration." That sounds good to us, though we're not sure if that means 530 horsepower as possibly alluded to by the license plate on the press shots. We also note that the automaker says the car is designed to accept "a wide range of engine architectures," so that rumored supercharged V6 sounds likely.
Well that didn't take long at all. Although we just saw spy shots of the new Maserati Quattroporte last week, Maserati has now taken the wraps off its redesigned sedan ahead of a confirmed Detroit Auto Show debut. Although no official details for the car were released just yet, we can infer quite a few changes just from the images. Celebrating 50 years of the Quattroporte, Maserati is referring to this new car as a 2013 model, but it will arrive next year for the 2014 model year in the US.
The overall exterior styling of the new Quattroporte hasn't evolved too far away from the current car. There is still the sloping hood, vented fenders and shapely body lines, but it also gets a much sleeker roofline and more steeply raked front glass. It also appears that the rear wheels no longer cut into the rear doors, suggesting a longer wheelbase. The biggest change made to the car's styling is found in the rear of the car where horizontal taillights and exhaust tip design now gives it a strong Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG vibe. Inside, the four-passenger sedan now gets a more stylish two-tier instrument panel, a larger touch-screen display on the center stack and what looks to be equally sized monitors for the rear-seat entertainment system.
Under the hood, we can definitely tell that the Quattroporte still uses a V8, but aside from the press release calling it an "all-new next generation powertrain," we don't have any real details of what powers the car. Or do we? The rear 3/4 image of the new design shows a license plate number of "QP 530 HP" possibly suggesting the engine's output has been raised to 530 horsepower up from the current 425. We are also expecting a supercharged V6 at some point down the line with an output of around 420 hp, and it is likely that both engines will be paired to eight-speed automatic transmissions.