Auto blogFri, 18 Apr 2014
Maserati has been on a heck of a product surge recently. After years of subsiding on versions of the previous Quattroporte and the aging GranTurismo, the Modense automaker rolled out the new Quattroporte the year before last, the Ghibli last year, it will introduce the Levante crossover next year and - according to the latest intel - will begin production of the Alfieri sports car the year after that.
The Alfieri concept debuted just last month at the Geneva Motor Show, taking the form of a two-door sports car foreshadowing the brand's new design language. Reception was positive, but it appears that sales of Maserati's existing models is what's giving the Alfieri the green light.
According to Automotive News, citing an interview given by Maserati chief Harald Wester on Bloomberg Television, the brand has been getting 3,500 orders per month, putting it on track to sell 42,000 units this year - nearly three times as much as the 15,400 it sold in 2013. The profits generated off those orders could be enough by themselves to offset the losses which Fiat is expected to record this year based on flagging sales for the Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Jeep brands in Europe.
The GranTurismo may be getting a little long in the proverbial tooth, but it hasn't quite been a century just yet. It has, however, been a hundred years since Maserati was originally founded, and to celebrate that milestone, the Modenese automaker has rolled in to the New York Auto Show this year with a pair of special editions. Available in either coupe or convertible form, the MC Centennial Editions arrived as a surprise just as the Alfieri concept was a month ago in Geneva, albeit somewhat less revolutionary.
The special editions are differentiated from any other by their paint scheme, special wheels, revamped interior and special badging throughout. Magma red and Inchiostro blue - the colors of the city of Bologna where the company was founded a century ago - are new to the Maserati catalog, and come with a choice of wheel options with special logos at the center. The interior color is specified to complement the exterior with red, white or blue trim and carbon-fiber accents.
Power comes from the same 4.7-liter V8 as the GranTurismo MC Stradale or GranCabrio Sport, driving 454 horsepower to the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. That's said to be enough to propel either coupe or convertible to a top speed of 185 miles per hour, and comes coupled with Brembo brakes and MC sport suspension. Deliveries commence in July, but you can scope it out here in the gallery of live images from the show floor above, the galleries of stock images below and the press release below that.
RM Auctions has some very special and expensive Italian sportscars of the 50s and 60s consigned for its auction in Monaco on May 10, but the one that currently carries the highest estimated value at between 4 and 5.5 million euros ($5.5 - $7.5 million) is a 1956 Maserati 450S with some very interesting provenance.
The Maserati started its life as a six-cylinder 350S that Stirling Moss drove in the 1956 Mille Miglia race. Unfortunately, the brakes failed, and it crashed into a tree and nearly into a ravine. Moss and his co-driver weren't injured, but the car was kaputt.
Maserati repaired it and used the chassis as a test mule for its new 5.7-liter V8 racecar called the 450S. It featured an extended wheelbase to fit the larger engine and a new body with a single seat. The racer hit the track again at the hands of Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio in the 1957 Buenos Aires 1000 KM but retired with transmission issues. Later that season, it crashed again at the 1957 Mille Miglia at the hands of driver Jean Behra. After that, the car sat around the workshop until it was sold without an engine in 1965.
This year marks Maserati's hundredth anniversary, which means we'll be spending the rest of 2014 talking about all the company's planned celebrations. The Alfieri Concept, shown at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, though, is quite possibly the most noteworthy part of the brand's centennial.
Named after one of the company's founder, Alfieri Maserati, the coupe is a striking piece of design, although it did manage to fall short of earning a spot on our editors' choice list for the Geneva show (we blame this more on the number of exciting products at the show rather than any shortcoming of the showcar).
In this video, Maserati Centro Stile designers take us through the process of penning the Alfieri, from the car it was inspired by, on to the actual process of designing the car. Fans of automotive design won't want to miss this video. Take a look below.
The 3.0L turbodiesel V6 in the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel earned a slot on Ward's Automotive 2014 10 Best Engines for its power, fuel economy and refinement. In a piece looking at how Fiat subsidiary VM Motor developed the engine, Ward's also makes note of the fact that the same lump goes in diesel versions of the Maserati Quattroporte and Ghibli. They're tuned a bit differently, naturally, with the QP putting out 275 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque, the smaller, lighter Ghibli making do with the same number of horses but a lower torque output of 420 lb-ft.
The 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet put out by the oil-burning six-cylinder in the Ram was tamed with a host of advances, but it appears that Ram hasn't tamed demand: the initial allocation of 8,000 engines was spoken for within three days of the truck going on sale. Head over to Ward's to read the story of how Ram worked out the equation light-duty-pickup + diesel = success.
For one reason or another, this is a car people stare at. They might be drawn to its curvaceous shape riding on immense wheels. They could be intrigued by its gaping, blacked-out grille which houses an equally outsized trident logo, or doing quick calculations about the last time they saw a car wearing the name Maserati. It may be its sports-car-like proportions mixed with achingly long, four-door bodywork that draws their eye.
Or, and I urge you to consider this theory carefully, the people taking notice of this Maserati Ghibli S Q4 might simply be newly alert after hearing the sound of its exhaust ricocheting off any solid thing nearby as I drive past grinning like a certified asshat. Did you hear an Italianate engine song careening through your Ann Arbor, MI neighborhood, in the black of the early morning, just a few weeks previous? Sorry, guy, that was probably me.
I spent a week hammering this all-wheel-drive Ghibli as hard as I dared in the last truly miserable stretch of the God Awful Winter of 2014. I can honestly say that I enjoyed myself, shocked at both the frank way this new challenger luxury car went down the road as well as the attention it garnered in the process.
Maserati is on a roll. The new Ghibli and Quattroporte have been huge successes, and it unveiled the gorgeous Alfieri concept (pictured above) at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show. The next step for the brand is getting the Levante crossover into production.
"We are getting Mirafiori ready for production [of the Levante]. The first bodies are expected for 2015," said Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne to Reuters in Geneva. He also said that there isn't much keeping the Alfieri off the streets. "The platforms and motors are there. Technically, production could start in 24-28 months," he said. However, Marchionne refused to say whether the company would actually give the concept a green light to be built.
Fiat hopes to be profitable again by 2016, and while its acquisition of Chrysler is certainly going to help, rejuvenating Alfa Romeo and Maserati are also a major part of the plan. In 2013, the Italian luxury brand saw sales more than double to 15,400 vehicles. Maser is still far away from its goal of selling 50,000 units by 2015, but it's quite a start. Fiat bought Maserati in 1993, but business went through a decade or more of doldrums and falling sales. It appears that the century-old brand is finally finding a path forward with some gorgeous new cars.
Can destroying a car be art? That question comes a bit too late for the Maserati Quattroporte seen above. The act depicted is from the music video for Adentro by Puerto Rican hip-hop act Calle 13 new single.
While the video is not yet online, the making-of featurette is available below and shows the luxury sedan getting beat with a baseball bat (and more) by the group's frontman René Pérez. According to Latin Gossip, Pérez wants to send his fans a message not to place too high a value in material objects. The Maserati represents a time in his life of too much excess, it seems...
The guy might have an argument, but it still seems pretty wasteful to destroy a perfectly good Italian sports sedan. We will be curious to see how far the destruction goes, but you can get a peak at it in the video below.
We may be just as (if not more) used to the idea of Maserati making four-door passenger cars as we are of Porsche or Aston Martin doing the same, but the Trident marque is no less routed in producing sports cars than its German and British rivals. The trouble is that, now seven years on the market, the GranTurismo is Maserati's only two-door model, and it's growing a little long in the tooth to serve as the brand's halo car. Especially when it starts looking back at its history on the occasion of its 100th anniversary. So to mark the milestone, and reconnect with its more sporting past, Maserati has rolled in to Geneva with the concept car you see here.
It's called the Alfieri, and we've been anticipating its unveiling since (if not long before) rumors surfaced last week of its impending arrival, followed by confirmation from the manufacturer and the leaked images we brought you mere hours ago. But now it's been unveiled in the metal.
The Alfieri's wheelbase is 9.5 shorter than the GranTurismo, but packs the same 4.7-liter naturally-aspirated V8.
As is so often the case ahead of a major debut, somebody wasn't able to keep the latest concept car from Maserati under wraps all the way until the drawing of its curtain at the Geneva Motor Show. The low-slung silver coupe you see above is said to be the Maserati Alfieri Concept, and, though these images aren't exactly the greatest, it looks pretty good. We like the small proportions of the Alfieri and the aggressive look of the car's front and rear fascias, and we certainly note a more assertive design than the Granturismo it would likely replace.
Rumor has it that both V6 and V8 engines may be on the table, mounted up front and driving either the rear or all four wheels, but we'll have to wait for official confirmation before we know for sure. In any case, this new Maserati, if it does go into production, is tipped to line up against such sporting contenders as the Jaguar F-Type and Porsche 911. Check out the two leaked images above, watch and listen to the car move under its own power in the video below, and feel free to let us know what you think in the Comments.