Maserati will build its future around two additional models and a replacement flagship Quattroporte saloon. The plan is to lift Maserati sales to around 20,000 cars a year.
First to be launched is the new Quattroporte, possibly at the Frankfurt show in September. The test mule scooped here has new running gear built into an existing Quattroporte bodyshell.
Being developed under the codename M156, the new Quattroporte will shift upmarket to make space in the range for Maserati’s forthcoming mid-size saloon — a competitor for the Jaguar XF and BMW 5-series and known internally as Project M157.
It seems likely that the two cars will be built on different platforms, if only because they will be assembled at different factories — the Quattroporte in Modena and the mid-size saloon in Turin.
Although Maserati boss Harald Wester has been quoted as saying the new Quattroporte will be based on a “new” platform, it’s still unclear if that means a thorough redevelopment of the existing eight-year-old structure or a fresh platform, possibly the new Chrysler 300C understructure, which also underpins the new Lancia Thema and, longer term, an Alfa Romeo flagship.
The new Quattroporte will be clothed in fresh body panels, designed internally at Fiat’s Centro Stile studio under boss Lorenzo Ramaciotti.
Although this breaks the direct link between Pininfarina and the Quattroporte’s styling, Ramaciotti was previously chief designer at the styling house, and the company continues to work on other cars for Maserati.
The new look is understood to be evolutionary but aims to give the Quattroporte a more expensive look to position range-topping versions in what Maserati calls the “super-luxury portion of the G-segment”.
With this in mind, Maserati will carry over today’s range of V8 engines with some modifications and improvements, particularly to fuel economy. The entry point will continue to be a 4.2-litre unit with about 400bhp. Higher-spec S and GT S models will employ the 4.7 V8 tuned to give about 430bhp to 440bhp.
Maserati says neither a V6 petrol nor V6 diesel will be launched in the flagship saloon, those engines being reserved for the new Jag XF rival.
The new Quattroporte is expected to employ the latest ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox, with a stop-start system, in place of the six-speed automatic that’s fitted to some current models.
With its more expensive-looking styling and a fresh, higher-quality interior, the Quattroporte’s move upmarket will make space in Maserati’s range for the new “high-end E-segment” saloon that’s scheduled to be launched next year to take on the sportier versions of the 5-series and XF.
Although the detailed pricing and marketing plan still have to be agreed, the most expensive Quattroporte is likely to rise in price to well over £100k. It will be a significant hike over today’s model, which is pitched at around £95k.
The entry-level model will rise in price slightly but will remain at around £85k. This will ensure a wider spread of market coverage and tie in with the pricing of the new mid-size saloon, which will range from around £55k to £70k.
Plans for the new mid-size four-door had been advancing at pace, driven by CEO Sergio Marchionne’s restructuring plan for the whole Fiat-Chrysler Group, but the £400m project hit a major snag last week.
Fiat bought the former Bertone factory near Turin for the project but has failed to agree flexible working conditions with the plant’s unions, forcing it to announce the investment plan is on hold.
Julian Rendell and Richard Bremner