23 February 2005

Maserati is planning to add a rapid 5.7-litre V12 Quattroporte to its line-up, according to reliable sources within the Italian car maker. The plush new Maserati flagship is aimed at challenging high-end luxury saloon rivals such as the Audi A8 W12, BMW 760i and Mercedes-Benz S600.

Power for the range-topping Quattroporte is said to come from a lightly reworked version of parent company Ferrari’s 5.7-litre V12 engine from the 612 Scaglietti. In the big Ferrari coupé, the 65-degree unit develops 540bhp at 7200rpm and 434lb ft of torque at 5250rpm. However, Maserati is rumoured to be tweaking the engine to bolster its low-end grunt and make it more suitable for the luxurious Quattroporte.

As well as the new V12, Maserati is also said to be in negotiations with Volkswagen for the supply of the German car maker’s highly lauded 5.0-litre V10 turbodiesel for its upmarket saloon, although officials say it is not a particular priority. The rear-wheel-drive Quattroporte is currently offered with a 4.2-litre V8 engine producing 400bhp and 333lb ft of torque.

It is not known whether the new V12 will head into other Maserati models, but with a new Coupé and Spyder planned for early 2006 the chances of the engine spreading across the range look strong.

Together with the V12 engine for the Quattroporte, Maserati is also co-operating with an outside supplier on a new automatic gearbox to be offered alongside the existing Cambiocorsa automated-manual ’box. Maserati sees the new gearbox as the key to increasing sales, particularly in the North American market, though it is remaining tight-lipped on whether it is a traditional torque-converter unit rather than a more contemporary dual-clutch set-up.

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