Maserati's Grand Kubang breaks out
After months of speculation, Maserati has finally revealed its luxury SUV challenger at the 2011 Frankfurt auto show.
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Designed to compete against the likes of BMW’s X5/6, Porsche’s Cayenne and Range Rover’s Sport/Vogue, the high-riding Maserati’s called the Kubang – rekindling the name of Maserati’s 2003 Detroit auto show SUV concept.
The styling is a blend of familiar Maserati Gran Turismo grille and very Audi Q5-like rear hatch shutlines and tail lights.
Why a Maserati SUV? Well, the Fiat group, who own both Maserati and Ferrari, are tired of seeing other premium/performance brands make easy money with their SUVs and wants in on the segment.
To this end, Fiat’s takeover of Chrysler, and by implication the Jeep nameplate (and its substantial resources and expertise in terms of all-wheel drive), has given Maserati access to technology enabling it to finally build a luxury SUV without investing massively in research and development.
ITALIAN GRAND CHEROKEE?
So Kubang is a Jeep Grand Cherokee with Italian styling? Well, seeing as Maserati is not willing to commit on full technical specifications for the vehicle as yet, it’s not easy to conclude how many components are being shared, but it’s fair to assume the technology transfer is considerable. It's even assembled on the Jeep assembly-line in Detroit…
So, can some finessed Italian style turn Kubang’s probable Grand Cherokee underpinnings into a Cayenne besting package? It remains to be seen.
A crucial detail will involve the engines Maserati settle on, which probably won't be the lumbering American V8s powering the current Grand Cherokee, either in 5.7- or 6.4-litre form.
Maserati says that renowned former Ferrari F1 engine chief, Paolo Martinelli, is currently working in Modena on a range of new powerplants for use in the Kubang, set to drive all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission, sourced in all likelihood from German specialist, ZF.
The latest from the Frankfurt show.