Mainstreaming, Italian Style

The introduction of the Maserati Ghibli next year will mark the first time that the Italian automaker has two four-door models for sale at the same time. This midsize sedan to the venerable Quattroporte is part of a larger effort to lift worldwide Maserati sales from last year’s 6,288 to 50,000 by 2015. While Maserati does not envision itself in the same league as BMW or Jaguar when it comes to volume, this new lofty goal will break it out of the territory occupied by such boutique makes as Ferrari and Aston Martin.

The Ghibli is a more compact version of the recently redesigned Quattroporte, with a wheelbase that is 7.9 inches shorter at 117.7 inches. The overall length, at 195.7 inches, is 11.4 inches less. The Ghibli will be available next year in both two- and all-wheel drive, with a choice of three V-6 engines: two turbocharged 3.0-liter gasoline units, producing 345 hp and 404 hp, as well as a 3.0-liter turbodiesel, the first oil burner in Maserati history, available overseas. The company says the top-spec Ghibli with all-wheel drive is capable of accelerating from zero to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds.

Although prices have yet to be announced, the Ghibli is expected to start under $100,000—considerably less than the $140,000 all-wheel drive Quattroporte. In looking to expand the market for its flagship sedan, Maserati will also be offering that car with the Ghibli’s twin-turbo 404 hp V-6 in addition to the 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-8. Both Ghibli and Quattroporte are equipped with 8-speed automatic transmissions.

Even with the expansion of the car line to two sedans in addition to the Gran Turismo Coupe and Convertible, Maserati is counting on two other factors to push it to its 50,000-unit goal—the first is robust sales in China, and the second is a new luxury SUV based on the Jeep Grand Cherokee, called the Levante. That model will use the Jeep architecture, but will come equipped with Maserati engines and will be built in Italy. (www.maserati.com)

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