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Paris show: Maserati dusts off the Ghibli badge

Surprise: Maserati’s SUV concept wore Kubang badges when it premiered in Frankfurt last year, but the company has pulled a fast one and switched the name to Levante.

Maserati harks to its past to name new sedan and SUV models Ghibli and Levante

28 Sep 2012

MASERATI will look to the future with two new models that hark back to its past, revealing at this week’s Paris motor show the names of its forthcoming sports SUV and mid-sized sedan.

The Italian marque’s BMW M5 rival will be called Ghibli when it joins the range alongside the larger Quattroporte next year, while its long-awaited luxury SUV competitor for the Porsche Cayenne will be called the Levante when it arrives one year later in 2014.

The new pair will expand the Maserati portfolio to five separate model lines – joining the Quattroporte sedan, GranTurismo coupe and GranCabrio convertible – which the company claims will be the largest since it was founded in 1914.

Both new models – alongside the sixth-generation Quattroporte that will premiere at the Detroit motor show in January 2013 – will form the most crucial parts of a product-led offensive that Maserati hopes will result in 50,000 annual sales by 2015.

It is not the first time Maserati has used the Ghibli name on one of its models – the badge premiered in 1967 on a sleek two-door GT coupe penned by the legendary Giogetto Giugiaro, and reappeared on another coupe model in 1992.

Little is known about the Mercedes E-Class/BMW 5 Series-sized Ghibli, other than it will be built at Fiat’s Turin plant – recently acquired from Bertone and undergoing a 500 million Euro ($A618 million) upgrade – alongside the new Quattroporte.

While not confirmed, it is believed Maserati will whip the covers from the new sedan at the Frankfurt motor show in September next year.

European reports suggest the Ghibli could be based on the same platform as the Chrysler 300, itself based on the previous Benz E-Class architecture to which the Fiat/Chrysler group has rights, and will feature an high-performance V6 engine option for entry models.

Maserati’s first SUV, meanwhile, was expected to be called either Kubang – the name it wore when it was revealed as a concept at the Frankfurt show this time last year – or the Cinqueporte, while the Levante nameplate was expected to appear on the aforementioned sedan.

Levante in Italian means ‘East’ – a reference to where the sun rises – but also refers to the particular street in Bologna where the five Maserati brothers founded the company 98 years ago, called the Via Emilia Levante.

Based on the Jeep Grand Cherokee platform as part of a platform-sharing arrangement and likely to be built in Detroit, the Levante will almost certainly become Maserati’s biggest seller when it hits global markets – including Australia – in 2014.

Underneath will be a complete set of Italian-engineered go-fast underpinnings, including Ferrari-derived engines, with pricing likely to be in the same ballpark as the flagship 4.8-litre turbo Cayenne ($247,500).

Maserati revealed its pair of new model names in Paris alongside the potent new GranCabrio MC, a more hardcore version of its flagship four-seat convertible inspired by the ballistic GranTurismo MC Stradale coupe.

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