MODENA, Italy - Maserati S.p.A. has packed its new Spyder with innovations in preparation for its return to the U.S. market and an increase in overall production.
The roadster will debut at the Frankfurt auto show in September.
Because it has the same front-end design, the Spyder could be mistaken for a short-wheelbase derivative of the coupe. But Maserati has reworked the entire platform. Those modifications - plus a new engine and mechanical layout - are unique to the Spyder and will be transferred to the coupe next year.
The main innovation is a new, normally aspirated V-8. The 48-valve, 4.2-liter engine delivers 390 hp at 7,000 rpm and is 44 pounds lighter than the 3.2-liter biturbo that has been Maserati's signature for 20 years.
The Spyder's second innovation is its mechanical layout. Where the six-speed gearbox in the coupe is mounted immediately behind the engine, the Spyder uses a transaxle design with the gearbox mounted in front of the rear differential. The change shifts weight backward, giving the new Spyder a more balanced 53-47 percent weight distribution.
The Spyder also has Magneti Marelli's Selespeed electro-hydraulic transmission control, which Maserati calls Cambiocorsa, or racing gearbox in Italian. It also comes with Skyhook, a new generation of automatic damping control system developed with Mannesmann Sachs.
Skyhook is said to be 10 times faster than other systems.
Like the coupe, the Spyder was designed by Italdesign-Giugiaro. For the U.S market, Maserati expects to price the coupe at $85,000 and the Spyder at $98,000. The two U.S.-spec cars will debut at the Detroit auto show in January and go on sale shortly after.
Maserati next year plans to build more than 3,500 units, including 1,500 to 1,800 Spyders and 1,800 to 2,000 coupes. About 1,200 Spyders and 300 coupes will come to the United States.