Auto blogMon, 03 Mar 2014
Debate ensued last week around the Autoblog offices when we first heard rumors that Maserati was bringing a new sports car concept to the Geneva Motor Show this year. Could there be any truth to the rumors? Did the timing make any sense? Does Maserati even need a two-door halo car to help it move examples of the new Ghibli, Quattroporte and upcoming Levante?
Well, we still don't have any official answer, but Maserati has indeed confirmed a new concept car to debut this week at the Swiss expo. The Modenese automaker hasn't indicated what form the concept will take, but assuming it's not doing another sedan or crossover, and unless it's planning a wagon concept like Touring's Bellagio Fastback or StudioTorino's Cinqueporte (both based on the previous Quattroporte), we feel it's more likely than not that we'll be looking at a two-door (be it a coupe, convertible or something in between).
Of course, we also don't know at this point just what size and segment Maserati is pursuing with this concept car (initial rumors had it going after the Jaguar F-Type) or for that matter whether it will presage a production version to follow or simply stand as a design study. But Maserati doesn't typically do many of the latter: the Kubang concepts of 2011 and 2003 previewed the Levante (albeit several years in advance), and the Birdcage was really more of a Pininfarina project, despite the Trident on the nose. With the exception of a couple production-based show cars (which themselves previewed production versions to follow), those are pretty much the only concepts Maserati has done in recent memory.
When you're born, it's impossible to know what sort of cars you'll be into as an adult. Your dad might be into old Mopars while your mom prefers a Ford Mustang. You, on the other hand, might end up being a fan of English cars (that was the case with your author, at least). Regardless of which vehicle type, era or marque you prefer, though, it's usually possible to trace back to the exact moment you fell in love with them.
For Frank Mandarano, his love of all things Maserati started at its birthplace in Italy, before spawning into a passion that saw him found a club and take possession of four 3500s over the years. One car in Mandrano's one-make collection stands out, though - a rare 3500GT that was imported into Mexico in 1960. It is a sweet sounding and gorgeous coupe to behold, making it the perfect subject for the crew at Petrolicious. Scroll down and have a look.
Maserati is in the midst of a major product overhaul. The Quattroporte was recently redone, the Ghibli is a fresh new model and the Levante crossover is still in the pipeline. But what about its two-door line? Surely Maserati hasn't forgotten about those, right?
Not according to the latest gossip, it hasn't. Word has it that in celebration of its centenary this year, the Trident marque is preparing a new sports car concept to unveil at the Geneva Motor Show. Apparently smaller than the aging GranTurismo, the new concept is said to take aim at the Jaguar F-Type - not to mention the Porsche 911.
According to GTSpirit, the concept could pack the Modenese automaker's new twin-turbo V6 or V8 engines, but no matter how many cylinders, it's understood we're likely looking at a front-engine/rear-drive layout and an automatic transmission.
When sports and cars come together, the world "super" often comes up - whether it's a high-performance super sports car, a racing series (like Japan's Super GT, Australia's V8 Supercars or Italy's Superstars series), the latest crop of Super Bowl ads from the world's automakers or a supermodel posing with a car in the pages of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.
This year's edition already saw Lisalla Montenegro cozying up to the new Lexus RC F, but it's not the only pairing to be found between an import luxury performance machine and a swimsuit model. The new 50th anniversary edition of the popular bikini special features a seven-page pictorial titled "Beyond the Swimsuit" shot by Francesco Carrozzini.
The spread features the inimitable Heidi Klum posing beside and inside various Maserati models - including the new Ghibli S Q4, the GranTurismo MC Trofeo race car and the Quattroporte Ermenegildo Zegna concept. Of course it's not the first time we're seeing a leggy blonde stepping out of Modena's finest - a role often taken up by one Jodie Kidd, to say nothing of the rich and beautiful in exotic locales the world over - but it's a pairing of which we'll never grow tired.
Maserati has been teasing its crossover project since 2011, which is when it first showed off the Kubang concept (pictured above). Still, the production version, rumored to be called the Levante, remains a complete mystery. The CUV was first rumored to borrow the platform from the Jeep Grand Cherokee, but new rumors indicate that the Italian, luxury crossover might actually take the underpinnings from the Quattroporte and Ghibli.
In a brief interview, Maserati CEO Harald Wester told CNN Money that the Levante wouldn't use Jeep's platform. Motor Trend spoke with an unnamed Maserati engineer who confirmed the rumor. Officially, the company says that no decision has been made.
We can add this to another long list of rumors about the Italian CUV. It was originally supposed to be built at Chrysler's Jefferson North assembly plant in Detroit. Then, plans were changed to build it in Italy.
It's no secret that Super Bowl ad time is very, very expensive, with a 30-second spot for this year's game costing around $4 million. For Maserati, which aired a 90-second spot showing off its new Ghibli sedan during this year's game, the price was considerably above $4 million, though.
Automotive News estimates that the spot cost Maserati the equivalent of over $700 for each of the 15,400 vehicles sold last year. That works out to nearly $11 million. It may have paid off, though, as search traffic for Maserati and the Ghibli in particular saw a significant spike following the airing of the stylish commercial, and the brand's total sales were already on target for record levels before the ad aired.
The Ghibli "deserved a wide audience platform such as the Super Bowl," according to Maserati's chief marketing officer, Saad Chehab. The sports sedan is Maserati's most affordable entry, with prices starting around $67,000, moving the brand further downmarket than it's ever ventured before.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles aired three commercials during this year's Super Bowl, and the first spot was given to Maserarti during the first quarter of the big game. The 90-second ad was used by Maserati to introduce its new midsize Ghibli luxury sports sedan to a very captive American audience.
Called Strike, the Ghibli commercial tells the familiar tale of the little guy who waits around for the world's giants to let down their guard. Scroll down to watch the spot yourself and let us know if it lives up to the high bar that Chrysler brands have set for themselves in past Super Bowls.
Exotic automobiles are just that: exotic. As in, rare. While Maserati is trying is darnedest to emerge from the fringes, its products are still less common than competitors from Germany, Japan or even the UK. Which is probably - more so than any superior quality or safety standards - why we rarely see the Trident marque's products the subject of a recall. Although it does happen upon occasion.
Back in the spring, Maserati had to call in over seven thousand examples of the Quattroporte, GranTurismo and Alfa 8C over rust issues. Now that the new Quattroporte is upon us, the Modenese automaker has apparently run into another small problem.
This time the issue revolves around the wiring harness for the alternator/starter motor, an improper crimp in which could cause the battery cable to short and start a fire. As a result, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is prompting 63 owners of the 2014 Quattroporte GTS V8 to bring their cars in to their local Maserati dealer to have the wiring harness replaced.
The Pebble Beach weekend is without a doubt one of the preeminent classic car gatherings on the calendar. But while most of the events that make up the weekend are essentially static displays, our favorite may be the Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. That's where you can actually see classic racing cars doing what they were made for in the first place. And every year, organizers of the event select a featured marque.
Last year it was the Chevrolet Corvette. The year before it was Shelby, preceded by Jaguar the year before that. But next year, the classic racing event will feature Maserati, which will be celebrating its 100th anniversary. And to make the occasion extra special for the Modenese marque, next year also marks the 60th anniversary of the most celebrated racing cars ever made by Maserati (or any other constructor, for that matter): the Maserati 250F (No. 4 above) famously piloted by the likes of Fangio and Moss in 1954.
Fittingly, the Trident marque got its start in racing back in 1914 with the debut of the Tipo 26 that put Maserati on the map with a debut victory in the 1926 Targa Florio. Although you don't much see it competing at top levels these days, Maserati went on to win the Indianapolis 500, the Formula One World Championship and, more recently, the FIA GT1 World Championship.
Naturally, you'd expect a massive automaker like Fiat to have an in-depth plan to exit the current European-market doldrums, and you'd expect that plan to include plenty of new vehicles to attract those precious buyers that still remain despite the financial downturn. And you'd be right, though Fiat does seem to have a few unexpected twists up its corporate sleeve.
Perhaps the biggest shocker is a report that Fiat will completely drop the Punto, a car with mass-market appeal aimed at small-car buyers cross-shopping the popular Volkswagen Polo. Its replacement will be a five-door Fiat 500 aimed at upmarket buyers (sounds awfully similar to the 500L) that will be built in Poland. Lower-end customers will reportedly be served by variants of the Fiat Panda.
Borrowing a page from the BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen playbook, reports Automotive News, Fiat is said to have plans to reignite production at its Italian factories by retooling them to build high-end vehicles from Maserati and Alfa Romeo. These will be marketed as premium products, built by skilled Italian workers (who are paid wages that are 75-percent higher than those building Fiats in Poland), and will be sold around the world.