Auto blogMon, 15 Apr 2013
We're set to record Autoblog Podcast #329 tonight, and you can drop us your questions and comments via our Q&A module below. Subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes if you haven't already done so, and if you want to take it all in live, tune in to our UStream (audio only) channel at 10:00 PM Eastern tonight.
Discussion Topics for Autoblog Podcast Episode #329
Subcompact sales slump, yet again
We knew it was coming, and here it is: the 2014 Maserati Ghibli. Maserati's plan of selling 50,000 cars per year by 2015 starts with the Ghibli, which will be positioned in a more volume-friendly market against the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series. The Ghibli will make its official debut later this month at the Shanghai Motor Show.
Although our first look at Maseati's newest sedan is limited to just three images, we can see that the car will have a sportier exterior design than its bigger brother, the Quattroporte, to go with an equally luxurious interior. Under its long, sleek hood, Maserati has confirmed that the Ghibli will utilize a pair of 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 engines - one gas and one diesel - both mated to eight-speed automatic transmissions. A rear-wheel-drive configuration will be standard, and the Italian automaker's new Q4 all-wheel-drive system will be available.
Scroll down for the brief teaser press release.
CAR reports Maserati may benefit from the introduction of Enzo-succeeding Ferrari LaFerrari (shown below). According to unnamed parties, Maserati is keen to create a successor for the MC12 (above) based on the bones of the new Ferrari.
Details are about as scarce as they come, but CAR reckons Maserati has a few options when it comes to building its own supercar. Those include using the suspension, chassis and electrical systems of the Ferrari but with a unique carbon fiber body and without the LaFerrari's hybrid system. The new take on the MC12 could use a detuned version of the 6.3-liter V12 from the LaFerrari or stick a quad-turbo 3.8-liter V8 behind the front seats.
The latter option could see the next MC12 yield up to 900 horsepower, putting it within reach of its cousin as well as hardware like the McLaren P1. Of course, all of this - including our fanciful name in the headline - is just speculation for the time being. CAR says that if the machine makes its way to production, it would could cost well over $1.3 million.
The Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale was exclusively a two-seater, but here in Geneva, the big Italian coupe gets its rear thrones back. We don't know if the addition of rear passenger space will help improve sales of this special trim of the aging GT, but it's at the very least an excuse for Maserati to shine a few lights on its gorgeous two-door.
Under that rakish carbon fiber bonnet is the same Ferrari-sourced 4.7-liter V8 we've loved for years now, tuned to 460 horsepower in this application and mated to Maserati's MC Race Shift six-speed automatic transmission. Other updates for the MC Stradale include new 20-inch alloy wheels and a smattering of new materials inside the cabin.
Yes, it feels like we write about some version of the GranTurismo every time we attend the Geneva Motor Show, but this car still tickles our fancy each and every time. Scroll down for the press blast and check out the four-seater for yourself in the high-resolution gallery.
There are untold amounts of primping and set up that goes on in the days leading up to an international auto show. Of course, there are exhibits to erect, lights to hang and scripts to rehearse. There are also cars to prep. Usually the latter involves little more than removing finger prints and dusting, but in the case of Maserati the day before the Geneva Motor Show press days, the process apparently includes banging on the sheetmetal of one of your prized showcars like a crazed woodpecker.
We're not sure what caused a surface irregularity in the door skin of this 2014 Quattroporte - perhaps shipping damage - but it was interesting (and mildly painful) to watch, and hear, a show prepper attempt to repair this six-figure sedan with what looks like a jeweler's hammer, high-intensity light and soft cloth.
That'll buff right out.
More seats inside the Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale means the possibility of a wider audience in more ways than one. Currently only available as a two-seater (we don't get the Stradale version, we get the four-seat GranTurismo MC), the addition of back seats will allow twice as many folks inside, and add the car to the purchase lists of those who need to carry more than two souls in their race-derived, 470-horsepower luxury coupes.
Furthermore, the MC Stradale now gets a carbon fiber hood with an air intakes and extractors, 20-inch alloys and new materials inside. It will take the A-lister's spot on the Maserati stand at the Geneva Motor Show, making its world debut alongside the European debut of the new Quattroporte. The press release below can tell you more.
Tales of fathers and sons, whether told for adults or for children, never go out of style. It's appropriate then that The Little Red Racing Car, a story about a father and son finding and restoring a 1955 Maserati 300S, is such a stylish piece of work.
Author Dwight Knowlton first started working on The Little Red Racing Car when, after his son was born, he "went looking for the perfect Father/Son/Car book" and couldn't find one. Knowlton's artwork in has been influenced heavily by vintage automotive advertising and Grand Prix posters, and has a very clean, art deco vibe as a result.
Of course, TLRRC is still just a work in progress. Knowlton is hoping the Kickstarter community will help to get the ball rolling, and raise $25,000 to the book printed and distributed. The author even has a stretch goal to have the whole shebang made into and animated film - we love big dreams. Follow on below to hear Knowlton's pitch in his own words, or jump over to his Kickstarter page to look further or buy-in.
While earlier reports indicated that the next Maserati product out of the gate would be the Levante SUV, Motor Trend is now reporting that the Audi A7-shaped Ghibli has cut in line. Word is that we may see the new Ghibli as early as the Shanghai Motor Show in April.
Citing unnamed sources, MT predicts that the minds at Maserati now see a more pressing need to fight off the likes of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the BMW 5 Series than to go after luxury utes. However, if our spy shots of Ghibli prototypes are anything to go on, it's also likely that the sub-Quattroporte Maser won't be a traditional sedan. The car above's long nose, low roof and brief, sloping rear deck all bring to mind Audi's lovely A7, Meaning the Ghibli may fall into the always murky four-door-coupe/luxury hatchback genre.
Bi-turbocharged iterations of both a V6 and a V8 should make up the early powertrain choices for the Maserati, meaning the top-spec Ghibli should have loads of shove to match its promised good looks.
Daimler is out, Toyota is out, Porsche is out, Hyundai, PSA Peugeot-Citroën are out and when it comes to selling cars in Iran, now Maserati and Lamborghini are out, too. The definitive pullouts of those last two automakers are said to be reactions to a press conference held by a group called United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI). The group highlights businesses that sell in both the US market and Iran, and works to get those businesses to choose one market or the other.
UANI said it had sent letters to Maserati and Lamborghini about their dealings in Iran, but that the letters went unanswered. Mark Wallace, head of UANI and a former US ambassador to the United Nations, held a press conference in October of last year that referenced the two companies. Apparently Lamborghini contacted Wallace just after the press conference and told him "they were out, they weren't doing any business in Iran anymore."
Discussions with Maserati then took place, and the Italian automaker said it had been out of Iran ever since Fiat announced it was leaving the country in May 2011. UANI said Maserati had been in talks with an Iranian distributor, however, and that distributor was continuing to use the Maserati name. The carmaker has since cut all ties with Iranian interests and has prevented its name from being used, adding that its new models will not be able to be sold there because they won't pass regulations the country's regulations.
It's not that often that we get to talk about a new Maserati model, but that's all about to change. The Italian automaker is using the 2014 Quattroporte to begin a lineup expansion that will soon grow to no fewer than five models. Entering its sixth generation, the Quattroporte has been completely redesigned, and is also adding a new V6 engine and all-wheel drive.
Pictures of the car were released last year and we've even had the chance to drive the car in France already, but we finally got to see both the 410-horsepower V6 and 530-hp V8 versions of the car at its debut at the Detroit Auto Show. The new Quattroporte is 100-percent Maserati with its svelte-ye-aggressive styling, but it adds more of a mainstream look to better compete with the growing number of high-end luxury sedans. Not all of the Autoblog staff consider it an improvement, but it doesn't stray too far from the Italian styling of the last model.
The interior has also been brought up to date with modern infotainment technology and improved luxury courtesy of a longer wheelbase bringing more space to rear-seat occupants. While the V8 we drove had a bench rear seat and oddly retro-modern wheels, the car on display had more conventional wheels and the two-passenger rear seat bucket seat layout.