Maserati Ready to Reveal Jeep-Based Luxury SUV

Paul A. Eisenstein
August 5, 2011
Theophilus Chin/Flickr
Theophilus Chin/Flickr


Maserati is expected to pull the wraps off its eagerly awaited SUV at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show, several well-placed sources have confirmed, while there are reports the Italian automaker might also reveal two new sedans, as well.

The three models are key pieces in the grand expansion that is planned for Fiat’s luxury subsidiary, which is looking to boost its global sales volume almost tenfold in the coming years.

The sport-utility vehicle, in particular, reveals the significant changes underway not only at Maserati but throughout the Fiat empire.  The new model will share its underpinnings with the latest-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee, and will roll off the same assembly line along the Detroit riverfront.

Under terms of the 2009 bailout of Chrysler, Fiat took a 20% stake in the U.S. maker – which it expects to steadily expand to a 70% share within the next couple years.  A recent shake-up effectively consolidated the management of the trans-Atlantic allies and Sergio Marchionne, who serves as CEO of the two companies, has ordered a consolidation of their product development programs, as well.

Already, a number of U.S.-made products have appeared wearing Lancia and Fiat badges in Europe, including the flagship Lancia Thema, a version of the Chrysler 300.

The new Maserati SUV will be one of the next shared products and will take on the growing list of SUVs and crossovers populating the luxury car market, such as the Porsche Cayenne and BMW X5. Sources say the model making its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show will be more than just a rebadged Jeep, however.

The body will be distinctively Maserati styled.  And the two powertrain will be sourced from Italy.  There’s expected to be a 450-horsepower, 4.7-liter V-8 gasoline engine, as well as a diesel, reports Automotive News, most likely VM Motori’s 3.0-liter V-6, which makes about 300 horsepower.  That would be a significant step up from what’s available on the Jeep Grand Cherokee now, in Europe, a 241-horsepower oil-burner.

Both the Jeep and Maserati SUVs will be built alongside each other at Chrysler’s Jefferson Avenue North plant, in Detroit.  The Maserati model will be sold in the U.S. as well as Europe, explained a company insider.

If BMW and Porsche provide a road map for what to expect once the new Maserati SUV appears, it will likely bring a major bump in sales for the Italian maker.  But Marchionne intends to build last year’s tally of just 5,675 to 50,000 or higher.

To get there, he intends to significantly expand the current Maserati line-up.  And recent news reports suggest that as many as two other models could share the Frankfurt spotlight with the maker’s new SUV.  However, several sources say they expect both the introduction of the “Baby” Quattroporte and a bigger version of the current Maserati flagship sedan will be held for a later unveiling.

But there is no question that they will be joining the line-up by 2013. The two will straddle the current Quattroporte model, the “baby,” codenamed M157, is aimed at those who want a smaller more nimble sedan.  The other model, known internally as M156, is a bigger 4-door with the sort of oversized back seat preferred by those who might employ a chauffeur – a common occurrence in China, a market Maserati hopes to exploit.

According to a report by Automotive News correspondent Luca Ciferri, the Baby Quattroporte will be powered by a modified Chrysler Pentastar V-6, at 3.0-liter making 400 horsepower.  By comparison, the current 3.6-liter Pentastar makes just 305 hp in the Dodge Challenger.

The bigger Quattroporte will use a Ferrari-derived 4.7-liter V-8 pumping out 475-hp.

The smaller car will also get a diesel option.  It is unclear whether an oil-burner will be offered for the M156, as well, the sedan targeting the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW’s 7-Series.

The Maserati SUV is expected to launch for the 2013 model-year.  The two Quattroporte spin-offs should debut shortly after.