Maserati’s Chicago Booth Is as Boring as it Gets
Today’s automotive market is based on clearly defined rules that are known to have worked for decades (for the most part at least), but some carmakers take the unbeaten path from time to time. For instance, a few companies, usually from the luxury market, opt to unveil their new cars at private event or happenings that take place between major auto shows. That’s simply because they don’t really need an auto show to advertise their cars. This is the kind of attitude that brand’s like Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Rolls-Royce have, and it’s perfectly understandable. But it doesn’t always happen like that and that’s when the automotive business become weird and confusing. And the latest example is Maserati’s decision to bring its entire lineup to the Chicago Auto Show.
Maserati Stops Production of its Models
Maserati is having a hard time selling its vehicles recently, and as a result, the Italian automaker is stopping production on most of its vehicles until January 15. According to Automotive News Europe, Maserati will halt production of the Ghibli and Quattroporte for the next month. Likewise, production of the GranTurismo and Grancabrio models have been put on hold until January 8 while the Levante’s production will stop from December 20 to January 15.
Maserati Debuts Nerissimo Package for Three Cars in Los Angeles
With just four vehicles in its lineup, one of which is already extremely old by modern standards, it’s not surprising that Maserati doesn’t have much to brag about at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show. However, the Italian firm used the event to introduce the Nerissimo Package for the Ghibli and Quattroporte sedans, and the Levante SUV. Meaning "extremely black" in Italian, the Nerissimo package isn’t exactly new. Maserati actually launched it this spring with the Ghibli Nerissimo Edition, a limited-edition model with a blacked-out exterior and a bespoke interior. So this new release is pretty much about turning it into a regular package for the Ghibli and adding it to the Quattroporte and Levante crossover.
Much like the special edition introduced earlier in 2017, the Nerissimo package turns the exterior almost pitch black. The Nero paint is combined with black chrome trim just about anywhere on the body, including the front grille and the window frames. The trunk lid trim, side air vents, Trident logo, C-pillars badges, and engine and vehicle designation. The exterior is rounded off by black exhaust tips. However, unlike the Nerrisimo Edition, this package comes with two additional paint options, Nero Ribelle and Grigio Maratea. The former is also black, while the latter is a dark grey metallic color.
There’s no word on what changes inside the cabin, but if the first Ghibli limited-edition model is any indication, all cars should get black leather, Dark Mirror trim, red stitching, and red gearshift paddles.
Alongside the new Nerissimo Package, Maserati also showcased 2018-model-year upgrades. The Ghibli and Quattroporte now feature Adaptive full LED headlights with glare-free high-beam, as well as an uprated 3.0-liter V-6 that generates 424 horsepower instead of 404. The mill also features the new, performance-enhancing Integrated Vehicle Control system (IVC) developed by Bosch.
2018 Maserati Levante GTS
Maserati’s full-size luxury performance SUV was first unveiled as the Kubang concept at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 2011. The production model was then officially unveiled earlier this year at the Geneva Motor Show in March. When it finally broke cover, the details were impressive – the exterior was pure Italian premium goodness, the cabin was opulent and well appointed, and a good dose of adrenaline was waiting under the hood. However, it’s looking like an even more exciting Levante is just over the horizon, and we think it’ll have a meaner look, more driver’s goodies inside, and two additional turbocharged cylinders.
So where would we get a crazy idea like that? Well, back in April, Autoblog asked Maserati if it could fit its top-spec 523-horsepower twin-turbo V-8, the same powerplant it shoehorned into the Quattroporte GTS, into its first-ever SUV. The answer was an unequivocal “yes.” What’s more, Davide Danesin, the head of Maserati vehicle programs, reported that the Trident already had a prototype of the combo in hand, leading high-performance SUV enthusiasts everywhere to begin salivating uncontrollably. And while it’s still possible Maserati will axe the project outright, odds are a Levante GTS will become a thing sooner or later.
In anticipation of that day, we created the following rendering and speculative review.
Updated 10/06/2017: The upcoming Maserati Levante GTS was caught testing for the first time in the sunny and hot parts of Europe.
Continue reading to learn more about the Maserati Levante GTS.
2018 Maserati Ghibli GranLusso
Introduced in 2013, the Ghibli became Maserati’s second four-door sedan. Smaller than the Quattroporte, it was developed as a competitor for the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. It’s also the first sedan that slots under the Quattroporte since the four-door version of the Maserati Biturbo was discontinued in 1994. The Ghibli name was revived after a 15-year hiatus, but it’s the first time when it’s being used on a four-door sedan, as both the first- and second-generation models, produced between 1967-1973 and 1992-1998, were offered as two-door coupes and convertibles only. After four years on the market, the third-generation Ghibli received its mid-cycle facelift.
In a strategy that reminds of Ferrari, the Ghibli was renamed the Ghibli GranLusso. The "GranLusso" isn’t new though, as Maserati is already using in on a trim level of the upgraded Quattroporte. The revised sedan made its debut at the Chengdu Motorshow in China with updated bumpers and side skirts, improved aerodynamics, and new features. The drivetrains carry over unchanged, but this is far from surprising given that both the GranTurismo and Quattroporte didn’t get engine upgrades with their facelifts. Still, there’s plenty of changes to talk about, so join me in my review for the full rundown.
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FCA Could Be Bought by a Chinese Automaker
Formed in 2014, the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) alliance has been doing very good these past three years, which is why Sergio Marchionne is on the lookout to either sell the company or make another merger with a big brand. FCA was refused by General Motors back in 2015 and Marchionne’s attempts to find a new collaboration have been unsuccessful so far. However, it seems that FCA is actually on the brink of finding a new owner. According to new reports, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has received at least one offer in August from a "well-known Chinese automaker."
That’s the word from Automotive News, which claims that the over was slightly higher than FCA’s current market value, but the Italian-American alliance rejected it for not being enough. There’s no detailed information as to what Chinese automaker made the offer, but speculation has it that FCA is negotiating with more than one company. Also, a source close to FCA said that company executives have traveled to China to meet with Great Wall Motor Co., while different sources claim talks with Dongfeng Motor Corp., Zhejiang Geely, and Guangzhou Automobile Group.
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Maserati Is Going Hybrid in 2019
Founded in late 2014, the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles alliance isn’t doing particularly well, despite initial high hopes and what appeared to be a solid five-year production plan. With Jeep reported to do better than the entire group, FCA needs to act fast if it wants to keep up with the likes of GM, Toyota, and the Volkswagen Group or even avoid facing a second bankruptcy. Company CEO Sergio Marchionne is well aware of that and devised a new five-year plan that revolves around launching a host of plug-in hybrid vehicles. This is far from surprising, but interestingly enough, Marchionne wants Maserati to lead this offensive with full electrification from 2019 onward.
The Italian boss didn’t have much info to share, but it seems that the plan is for all Maserati vehicles launched in 2019 and beyond to plug-in hybrid or all-electric drivetrains. “When it completes the development of its next two models, it will effectively switch all of its portfolio to electrification," he told journalists. "As these products come up for renewal post 2019, it will start launching vehicles which are all-electric and which embody, I think, what will be considered state of the art technology." In addition to that, more than half the FCA fleet will be electrified in some way by 2022.
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2018 Maserati GranTurismo
The Maserati GranTurismo was introduced in 2007 a replacement for the Coupe, which in turn was the first grand tourer developed under Ferrari ownership. Offered in both coupe and convertible body styles, the GranTurismo was designed by Pininfarina and launched with two V-8 engines co-developed with Ferrari. A 4.2-liter V-8 powered the base model, while a bigger, 4.7-liter V-8 was offered in the S, MC Stradale, and Sport models. Although it was believed that the GranTurismo would be replaced altogether in in 2018, Maserati launched a new update in 2017.
Essentially a facelift, the 2018-model-year upgrade brings revised aerodynamics on the outside and new technology on the inside. The Italians also changed the drivetrain lineup, ditching the 4.2-liter V-8 as well as the MC Stradale model. From now on, the GranTurismo is available in only two trim levels, the Sport and the MC. Unfortunately, output remains unchanged, which means that the grand tourer might not be around for too long. Find out what’s new in the review below.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Maserati GranTurismo.
Maserati Opens The Door For a Second SUV
Say what you will about the sudden rush among automakers to enter the SUV market, but the numbers don’t lie. SUVs are arguably the most popular segment in the industry today and everyone wants a piece of it. Take Maserati for example. The Italian automaker best known for its line of performance and luxury machines launched the Levante SUV back in 2016 and it’s already posting strong sales numbers, according to company boss Reid Bigland. The success of the Levante has now opened the possibility for Maserati to double down on the market with a new SUV.
To be clear, Bigland stopped short of actually confirming the company’s plans to build another SUV, opting only to say that if “customer preference continues to evolve,” Maserati will take that into strong consideration should it decide that the Levante would need a running-mate to compete against a field of strong competitors. There’s already a precedent for Maserati to think in this terms, specifically the way Porsche has managed to parlay the Cayenne’s popularity to create a family of models that now includes the Macan. As it stands, the Levante is already on pace to sell 25,000 units this year after posting 14,000 sold units of the model in 2016. It certainly wouldn’t be shocking to see the Italian automaker to move in the direction of adding another SUV to its lineup. The question now is how and when it’s going to do it.
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2017 Maserati Levante Esteso By Novitec
Let me put this out there. The Maserati Levante SUV is not getting as much love as it should. Think about it. The premium SUV market is dominated by the likes of the Porsche Cayenne, BMW X6, and Mercedes-Benz GLE. Go a little bit further and SUVs like the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Jaguar F-Pace, Bentley Bentayga and even the yet-to-be released Lamborghini Urus and Rolls-Royce Cullinan are getting more publicity than the Levante. It’s a shame because the Maserati SUV is arguably the best-looking of all of them and its 430-horsepower output isn’t anything to sneeze at. Thankfully, the aftermarket tuning world has not forgotten about the Levante and we see that on full display with Novitec’s Esteso program that helps the SUV achieve power levels to the tune of 494 horsepower and 486 pound-feet of torque.
Those numbers may still fall short of what other automakers are offering with their stock SUVs, but don’t mistake that for a weakness on the Levante’s part. After all, 494 horsepower is still a load to deal with. Add that to a full wide-body kit from Novitec that includes pretty much everything but the kitchen sink and you get a Levante that not only looks the part of a sporty and aggressive SUV, but one that also performs like one. So in the absence of hype relative to what other SUVs are getting, let Novitec’s Esteso program remind us of the Levante’s potential to look and perform just as well as its competitors in its segment.
Continue after the jump to read more about the Maserati Levante Esteso by Novitec.
2017 Maserati Ghibli Nerissimo Edition
The current Maserati Ghibli was introduced in 2013, reviving a nameplate that was produced between 1967 and 1998. Unlike its predecessors, which were offered as two-door coupes and convertibles only, the new Ghibli is a four-door sedan. Sharing underpinnings with the larger Quattroporte and the recently launched Levante SUV, the Ghibli is the first Maserati to use a diesel engine. The oil burner is offered alongside two versions of the twin-turbo, 3.0-liter, V-6 gas-drinker that was co-developed with Ferrari. At the New York Auto Show, the Italian firm launched the Ghibli Nerissimo, a limited-edition model with bespoke features inside and out.
The name Nerissimo is based on the Italian expression for “extremely black," and there’s a good reason why Maserati selected it for this car. Although it’s identical to the standard model as far as design goes, the Nerissimo is an all-black take on the midsize sedan. It’s essentially Maserati’s very own version of the Chevrolet Midnight Edition, but in a more elegant package and with a more expensive sticker. The Nerissimo Edition is limited to only 450 units, which explains the rather hefty premium you have to pay for an appearance package.
On the other hand, the Ghibli is quite gorgeous in this black suit and adds a bit of style to an otherwise aggressive-looking sedan.
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2017 Maserati Levante by Mansory
To say that the Geneva Motor Show was busy would be a hilarious understatement. Really, have your heads stopped spinning now? So many things happened at the world’s biggest auto show that it’s hard to comprehend the sheer volume of debuts we saw in the last few days. That’s especially true in the aftermarket scene where some of the biggest tuners in the business were out in droves, presenting the latest programs for some of the most premium cars in the market today.
Take Mansory for example. The tuner is a regular staple in Geneva, and this year, it brought with it a total of six project cars, including this insane Maserati Levante that not only screams attention, but in large part, demands it too. And why wouldn’t it? After all, this is one of the first programs available for the premium SUV, and it packs a load of new features, including power upgrades amounting to decent gains of 465 horsepower for the Levante S. That adds 35 ponies to the SUV’s standard output of 430 horsepower.
Okay, so it’s not as mind-blowing of a power increase as some of Mansory’s other projects. But the tuner more than makes up for it with extensive upgrades in other areas of the Levante, including a rather preposterously aggressive wide body kit provides more than just the usual visual enhancements of like-minded programs before it. Interior upgrades are also a highlight of the program, that is if customers prefer the kind of bombastic updates that the tuner is known for.
All told, Mansory’s program for the Levante SUV may not be for everyone, but for those who like their kits hot with extra servings of spice, this kit is going to get your attention in more ways than one.
Continue after the jump to read more about the Maserati Levante by Mansory.
2017 Maserati Levante by Startech
This time last year, Maserati was preparing to unveil the Levante SUV at the Geneva Motor Show. Not only was it a signal of the Italian automaker’s intentions to go all-in on the premium SUV market, but it also marked a big move to expand its own lineup past the usual coupes and sedans that it was offering. Fast forward to this week and the Maserati Levante is once again headed to Geneva, although this time, it’s German tuner Starch that’s bringing the SUV with it to the biggest auto show in the world.
The Brabus-owned aftermarket firm is no stranger to these types of events since it’s been a regular fixture in Geneva over the past few years. But that was then, and this is now. And as far as “now” goes, the Levante is taking center stage at the Startech booth where it will be showcased in full aftermarket regalia, complete with a new body kit, a massive set of wheels, and the promise of interior and engine upgrades, both of which will come at a later date.
So yes, it’s technically an incomplete program, but don’t take that against Startech. If anything, the strategy to showcase just a part of the full Levante tuning experience can be seen as a way to build up the kit ahead of when the interior amenities and the power and performance boosts are ready to be unveiled. That’s certainly one of way looking at it and for what it’s worth - literally and figuratively - the aerodynamic body kit Startech prepared for the Levante does warrant a place in Geneva.
Now if only the tuner had a definite timetable and when the interior and performance upgrades will arrive…
Continue after the jump to read more about the Maserati Levante by Startech