Shortly after Maserati unveiled the Kubang concept at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show, rumors began circulating that a production version would be offered. Shortly after, Maserati confirmed that a production version will indeed be offered, but the production version will drop the Kubang name in favor of Levante.
The SUV takes its name from the Via Emilia Levante in Bologna, where the Maserati brothers, almost a century ago, dreamed up the company that today still bears their name.
The Levante will be offered with three engines: a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine delivering 410 horsepower, a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V-8 engine with 530 horsepower and a turbo-diesel engine only offered in Europe. All the three engines will be mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and will send their power to all four wheels via Maserati’s new all-wheel-drive system.
Maserati’s first SUV will combine exterior and interior elements from Quattroporte and Ghibli with some electronic architecture from Chrysler and Jeep.
Until recently, it was rumored that the Levante would be built at Chrysler’s Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit alongside the Jeep Grand Cherokee, but due to the huge demand for the Jeep SUV, this isn’t a possibility. Instead, it will be produced in Italy.
The Levante will be unveiled in 2014 - just in time to celebrate Maserati’s centennial.
Image Note: The above image is a TopSpeed rendering and not an official image of the Levante
Update 5/21/2013: A report by Edmunds has revealed more information on the Levante’s production home and drivetrain.
A few weeks back, we reviewed BMW’s Active Sound system, the system that pipes V-10 engine sounds through the stereo system. We dubbed this system a useless gimmick because a turbo V-8 is a damn fine sounding engine, but owners cannot opt to turn it off without pulling a fuse that also turns off the entire stereo system. Well, it looks like BMW is not alone in this game.
Starting In 2014, Maserati will be selling its first ever diesel-powered vehicle, the Kubang SUV to compete with the Porsche Cayenne diesel in the European market. What Car? asked Maserati’s Vice President of Product Development, Roberto Corradi, about the notoriously beautiful engine sounds that Maserati buyers know and love in their cars and its potential effect on the sales of this diesel SUV.
Corradi responded by stating that engineers are working on using the Kubang’s stereo system to give it a nice engine note. This can only be interpreted as Maserati piping in fake engine sounds through the stereo. Unlike the BMW M5, we see a purpose for this, just like we do in electric cars, as these economic diesel engines just don’t sound cool. This piping in sounds of a high-performance engine can make drivers feel more like they are driving a true Maserati rather than a slower diesel model.
All we ask of Maserati is to install an “On/Off” switch that allows its owner to shut this feature off if he prefers natural engine sounds. As long as that’s taken care of, we have no problem with this feature and actually find it pretty neat.
Maserati will be introducing three new vehicles over the next 24 months, further hinting to the future production of their Kubang SUV, as well as the impending releases of an all-new Quattroporte and a smaller version of it.
In a recent press release, the Italian automaker didn’t specifically mention the names of the three models that they are planning on releasing, but it’s all pretty academic at this point unless they have something up their sleeves that we’ve never seen before.
The Kubang, or "Cinqueporte ", for one, has already been slated for production, so it looks like that’s going to be one of the models. Likewise, we’ve already seen spy photos and videos of the new 2014 Quattroporte frolicking around a number of race tracks around the world.
The third model of this triumvirate is also the one that we know the littlest about. Maserati has given indication that they’re building a smaller version of the Quattroporte, but we’ve yet to see the car make its world debut or see it in any spy photos. The only piece of info attached to the model is that it could carry the name "Levante," which Maserati trademarked just a month ago.
Another bit of info in the Maserati press release that bears following is the announcement that an Alfa Romeo model will be built together with the GranTurismo beginning in 2013. What that model is is still anyone’s guess.
One thing we do know is that things are fixing to get interesting from them boys with tridents.
Fiat chief exec, Sergio Marchionne, has confirmed that Maserati is indeed preparing three new models: a successor to the Quattroporte , a smaller Maserati , and the production Kubang , rumored to be called the Cinqueporte . Moreover, these three models will debut in rapid succession, which is a good thing considering Maserati is keeping mum on which model will be launched first.
"We are being a bit secretive over what you get first because it has implications for the industrial footprint of the group," said Marchionne. "You see, there is a site in Modena that makes the Quattroporte, there’s some debate what happens to that plant after Quattroporte. There is sufficient commonality in what we’re doing between the smaller car and the bigger one that we can do what we want."
Of course, that doesn’t mean that people aren’t going to throw their two cents in. It is believed that the first vehicle to arrive will be the Quattroporte, followed by the Kubang, and then the baby Maserati. It is already known that the Kubang will be heavily based on Jeep Grand Cherokee and that the four-door baby Maserati will be built on a Chrysler 300 platform, but Marchionne says that the four-door will have a completely different suspension and that the engine are "totally Ferrari/Maserati."
Now that Maserati has unveiled the Kubang concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show everyone knows that the production version is just around the corner. The only question is: will it keep the Kubang name? Apparently no! It has been reported that the company has just filed a patent application in Europe for the name "Cinqueporte" - that of course will be used for a five-door car.
That make us believe that the future SUV will carry the "Cinqueporte" moniker - unless of course Maserati has something else planned that has managed to keep to itself until now. A very strange choice we might add considering the SUV will be built in the US at Chrysler’s Jefferson North plant in Detroit, MI.
The SUV will be built on a Jeep Grand Cherokee platform and will be powered by a 4.7-liter V-8 unit capable of about 450-hp, coupled with ZF’s eight-speed automatic transmission. For Europe Maserati will also be offering a VM Motori’s 3.0-liter V-6 with power increased to over 300 HP. The Maserati SUV will be launched on the market in 2013.
Maserati was already late in the sporty SUV game when it first debuted the Kubang Concept back in 2003, and now the Italian luxury car maker is hoping we forget about the eight year long hiatus their SUV has taken to reintroduce the Kubang at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. Tsk, tsk, Maserati. It’s one thing to bring about a second concept of the same vehicle (look at Toyota’s FT-86 ), but it is quite another to ignore the laid back attitude taken in developing it.
Regardless of the misguided marketing ploys, the new Kubang Concept is here again with a more modern interpretation and a promise that, this time, the concept previews a new sport luxury SUV that will be used to enlarge Maserati’s product range and strengthen its presence in the sport luxury market. The new Kubang was created by the Maserati Style Center headed by Lorenzo Ram aciotti and despite its Jeep platform, is supposed to be all Maserati. Everything from the style, engine, suspension, brakes, handling, and performance is said to be in continuity with the brand’s core values of sportiness, style, elegance, luxury, performance and craftsmanship.
Maserati has also promised that the production version will be powered by a new-generation high-tech Maserati proprietary engine designed in Modena by Paolo Martinelli and produced in Maranello by Ferrari . The SUV will also receive a new AT 8 speed automatic transmission and specific performance settings set to the configurations of the suspension, brakes, and steering exclusively developed in Modena by the Maserati Product Development Department.
Updated 09/28/2011: Maserati has unveiled a first official video for the Kubang concept who made its world debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show. A production version will be built in Detroit and will be put on sale sometime in 2013. Until then enjoy the concept in action!
Updated 04/27/2012: In a recent interview with Automotive News, Maserati CEO Harald Wester announced that the Beijing Auto Show has been the last appearance of their Kubang concept. Next time we will see a Maserati SUV will be in 2014 at the Detroit Auto Show when the company will bring it in a production version and with a different name. Sales will begin in the first half of 2014.
The Kubang takes its name from a Javan wind and has a 4.2-liter V-8 sending 390 horsepower to all four wheels. Maserati claims a 0-to-60-mph time of 5.5 seconds and a top speed of 158 mph. The six-speed transmission is, as in the Maserati Coupe and Spyder, paddle-shifted. There’s room for four, five, or six passengers depending on seating options, and a large hatch and fold-down rear deck open wide for swallowing cargo. We suppose the idea of a Maserati wagon is no more objectionable than a Porsche SUV, and Maserati will probably need to round out its product portfolio to ensure its continued success in the North American market.