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Maserati to get new-model blitz

Back on: Maserati’s Alfieri sportscar is likely to be one of the new Maserati models given the public tick of approval by FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne when he reveals the company’s new-model program on June 1.

New medium SUV and Alfieri sportscar expected for Maserati in new-model D-Day

Maserati logo22 Mar 2018

A FLOCK of new Maserati models are expected to be foreshadowed by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne when he hands down his latest – and last – multi-year business plan for the Italian-American automotive group on June 1.

A medium SUV based on Alfa Romeo’s new Stelvio, the long-awaited Alfieri compact sportscar and replacement GranTurismo sports coupes and cabrios are expected to be on the list of new hardware for Maserati from Mr Marchionne who is also expected to have news on electrified powertrains and a shift in corporate structure that will have Maserati lumped in with Alfa Romeo and Abarth in a new performance-car division.

The first V8-powered Levante SUV – the GTS – is also on the launch pad for reveal later this year, presumably using the Quattroporte GTS’s 390kW 3.8-litre bi-turbo V8 that is designed by Maserati and built by sister company Ferrari.

Although some reports have suggested that Maserati will not get a sub-Levante SUV, GoAuto understands that the vehicle is very much on the cards in an exchange between Maserati and Alfa Romeo.

While Maserati is to get a version of the new Stelvio with its own styling, suspension tune and other touches, Alfa gets a seven-seat version of the Levante with changes to bring it into line with other Alfa models.

Alfa especially needs a large SUV for the United States market where a seven seater is essential for the brand to gain sales traction, while Maserati needs a smaller SUV in Europe to suit the tight roads and the urban squeeze.

Potentially, the unnamed smaller SUV could end up being Maserati’s biggest seller, especially in Australia where such medium wagons are essential for luxury brand success. The current segment leader is the BMW X3/X4, followed by the Mercedes-Benz GLC and Audi Q5.

Maserati’s only existing SUV, the Levante, is set to get a spring in its step with the unveiling of the V8 GTS this year. This will be especially important in Australia where the model’s sales this year are down 47.5 per cent after two months.

Launched only in diesel form, the Levante recently gained the newly upgraded 3.0-litre bi-turbo petrol V6 that bangs out 316kW/580Nm.

While that powertrain has carved out a niche in Levante sales, diesel is still the main player in that range. Some buyers, however, might be waiting for the flagship V8 before jumping into Levante.

The upcoming smaller Maserati SUV is expected by about 2020, along with the new Alfieri sportscar that is expected to sit below the large two-door GranTurismo four-seater that is in line for a replacement for the ageing current model that has been going around for 11 years and counting.

The two sports machines will probably be built on the same platform and share a lot of technologies, including electrified powertrains alongside the petrol engines eventually.

While Maserati showed an Alfieri concept (named after one of the founding Maserati brothers) at the 2014 Geneva motor show, the production version reportedly was delayed until 2020 to allow the Maserati product development team to prioritise the Levante to take advantage of the swing to SUVs.

With diesel on the nose in Europe and China and even petrol engines facing an end date in some countries, Mr Marchionne is expected to announce that all-new FCA models will get a form of electrified powertrain, either plug-in hybrid, all-electric or both, at some point in the next business plan to be spelled out on June 1 – a date that is looming as D-Day for FCA.

Mr Marchionne announced in January that he would step down as FCA CEO next year after 15 years at the helm of the company that includes the Fiat, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, RAM, Alfa Romeo, Abarth and Maserati brands, as well as a large chunk of Ferrari.

The Italian-born, Canadian-educated former accountant is on the record as saying that more than half of all automotive powertrains will have some form of electrification by 2025 and that within 10 years, autonomous driving technology will be widespread.

One thing that Mr Marchionne is not expected to announce is Chinese production of Maserati cars, despite the temptation to avoid hefty import tariffs and ramp up sales in the world’s largest motor market.

Apparently, FCA believes such a move would imperil one of Maserati’s greatest brand strengths, its Italian identity, in a global market where only strong brands will survive.

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