Too big? Too small? Maserati aims to make 2 Quattroportes just right
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TURIN, Italy - Chrysler Group plays a key role in Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne's plan to boost Maserati sales to 50,000 units a year by the end of the decade from 5,675 last year.
Maserati will borrow systems and components from Chrysler sedans such as the Chrysler 300 and the Dodge Avenger to create two sedans to replace its Quattroporte flagship.
The Quattroporte is regarded as too big to be a driver's car, but too small, particularly in legroom, to be a proper chauffeur's car. The new sedans are aimed at solving those problems.
To avoid customers seeing the two Quattroportes as "Chrysleratis," the borrowed Chrysler parts would be out of sight and could include wiring, air conditioning, passive safety systems and seat structures.
The two Quattroportes would be assembled in Italy. A third new Maserati, the company's first SUV, would be assembled in the United States by Chrysler on the same line as the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
The two new Quattroportes would account for about 30,000 to 35,000 units a year at full capacity, while the SUV would account for about 10,000 to 15,000 units. The remaining units to reach the 50,000 annual sales target would come from Maserati's current core products, the GranTurismo coupe and the GranCabrio convertible, whose production remains in Modena, Italy.
GranTurismo MC: In April, the United States began receiving the North American version of the sportier MC Stradale four-seat coupe. The car, called simply the GranTurismo MC in the States, gets the same body and interior tweaks of the MC Stradale for Europe. The engine output was increased 10 hp to 450 hp, but the car retains ZF Friedrichshafen AG's six-speed automatic transmission.
GranTurismo Convertible: In July, Maserati began U.S. shipments of the Sport version, which adds the same body and engine tweaks of the coupe's MC version.
The GranTurismo Convertible is called the GranCabrio in the rest of the world.
Baby Quattroporte: At the end of 2012, Maserati will add a sedan smaller than the Quattroporte flagship. The project, initially conceived as a flagship model for Alfa Romeo, was switched early last year to Maserati because Maserati can handle higher prices and already has global distribution.
The new model keeps Maserati's traditional layout of front longitudinal engine and rear drive.
The car will debut a heavily revised 3.0-liter version of Chrysler's 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine. The revised engine, with Fiat's MultiAir variable valve timing, twin turbochargers and direct injection, will deliver more than 400 hp and decent fuel economy.
Europe also would get a diesel variant of the baby Quattroporte with a beefed-up version of VM Motori's 3.0-liter V-6 engine offered on the export version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Maserati says the new car will fit a price range between 55,000 euros and 70,000 euros in Europe, about $79,000 to $101,000.
Large Quattroporte: In mid-2013, a redesigned Quattroporte sedan will debut that will be considerably bigger than the current model. The new sedan, with overall length of about 203 inches, would be 2.5 inches longer than the current Quattroporte and 8.7 inches longer than the baby Quattroporte.
The redesigned Maserati flagship would use a revised version of Ferrari's 4.7-liter V-8, switching to direct injection and delivering about 475 hp, coupled with ZF's eight-speed automatic transmission.
Maserati plans to add all-wheel drive and stop-start technology to the model to reduce fuel consumption 25 percent from the current Quattroporte.
Large SUV: At the Frankfurt auto show in September, Maserati will debut a concept that hints at a large SUV set to hit the market in 2013. Chrysler would build the vehicle, a sibling of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, in the Jefferson North assembly plant in Detroit.
The engine would be Maserati's 4.7-liter V-8 unit capable of about 450 hp, coupled with ZF's eight-speed automatic transmission.
You can reach Luca Ciferri at firstname.lastname@example.org.