Maserati is aiming a two-pronged attack at rivals like the Jaguar XKR, BMW 6-series and Porsche 911 with a new £70,000 Quattroporte-based coupe, to be launched in Geneva next month. The replacement for the current Coupe will be called the Maserati GranTurismo, and these are the first official images of the car.The new Pininfarina-designed two-door aims to match its rivals for sportiness, heritage and performance, while also offering full four-seat accommodation, and luxurious cabin appointments more like the softer, pricier Bentley Continental GT.The GranTurismo starts production later this year, with right-hand-drive versions reaching UK customers around September. It will be powered by the Quattroporte's 4.2-litre V8 with max power lifted about 5bhp (from 395 bhp) to clear the 400bhp threshold.Power will be transmitted through the paddleshift version of the ZF six-speed automatic gearbox just adopted for the Quattroporte, and also used in the Aston Martin DB9, and with a 49/51 front-to-rear weight distribution, the car's dynamics promise to be excellent.
A proper four-seater
This new Maser is only about 15cm shorter than the Quattroporte's 5.05 metres, and uses a very similar but re-rated suspension. The wheelbase is 40cm shorter than the saloon, which makes it about 15cm longer than the existing coupe.The new model (plus the Quattroporete auto) should boost total Maserati volume from the present 5500 cars to around 7000 in 2007 (including around 4000-4500 Quattroportes and 2000 new Coupes). The company reckons it will be in profit from the end of this year, but wants to be making 10,000 cars a year, including a third model line, by the end of the year.
Hotter version to come
This initial version of Maserati's new GranTurismo will be joined late next year by a 4.7-litre, 470bhp performance edition, possibly with a competition-inspired body by Zagato. That car will feature the rear-mounted 'F1 gearbox' on which the Quattroporte has depended until now. Maserati is keen to launch a performance line, similar to Jaguar's R-brand and BMW's M Division cars, and possibly using the MC initials (for 'Maserati Corse') it already uses on the highly successful mid-engined MC12 GT racer. The GranTurismo 'MC8' could be the car it uses to launch that brand.