News - Maserati
Maserati considers Bentley Bentayga rival
Smaller and larger SUV models primed for Maserati future
7 Feb 2017
MASERATI Australia chief operating officer Glen Sealey has expressed strong interest in an upper-large SUV to complement the Levante and re-opened the door to producing a small SUV, having admitted that the company must face the realities of the ‘crossover’ boom.
Speaking with GoAuto at the national media launch of the Levante in northern New South Wales, Mr Sealey reiterated that Maserati currently would not enter into product space below the $150,000 entry point to the Levante range, however he believed there were options for a pricier ultra-luxury SUV from the brand.
“Maserati is a brand that people will happily pay up to $400,000 for, so there is a lot of space for us,” he said.
“We’re also a brand that people will more than happily pay $150,000-plus for, and that’s about where we sit (and it is) the lowest we want to go to (today).
“By the time you put a Quattroporte GTS Gran Lusso/Gran Sport on the road, you’re edging toward $400,000. People pay that. So we can stretch the brand up to that level.
“Can we do that in an SUV? Yeah, absolutely. The possibility is there, as long as the brand can sustain it (so) if the product is there we’ll go ‘okay’.”
With Ferrari having refused to produce an SUV, and the Volkswagen Group rival having launched the $420,000 (plus on-road costs) Bentley Bentayga and announced the forthcoming Lamborghini Urus, a Maserati rival could join what Mr Sealey has admitted is a lucrative segment.
It could also, he believed, complement the Quattroporte upper-large sedan in its declining class.
“Today when we look at our five-year plan, Levante is an absolute key part of that, but so are the sportscars, the high-end, executive cars, which is Ghibli, and Quattroporte for us (which) is our signature car,” Mr Sealey continued.
“It’s a vehicle we won’t abandon (and) I personally think that there is always a spot for Maserati to have a racing engine in a large saloon we started that. I think there is space for an (upper large) saloon as well as an SUV, but … you have to acknowledge the market trends.
“If in five years’ time, no one wanted that saloon and everyone wanted an SUV, we would have to move in that direction. We must move where consumer demand wants to take us. Where you invest now to get more return … clearly there is a trend toward SUVs.”
Mr Sealey also hinted that a decision had not yet been made to go ahead with an upper-large SUV Maserati.
Asked if the brand would need to make a judgement call on whether the SUV market will continue its ascent, given product lead times could total several years, he replied: “With technology involving CAD modelling (and) photo printing so you can print out the parts and models without doing the full clay model, it has shortened that development cycle enormously.”
Another Maserati spokesperson explained to GoAuto that the growth in the SUV market was seen to be in the premium sector and that was likely to continue. It indicates an increased likelihood that the Italian brand will deliver a ‘crossover’ further upmarket.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) sibling brand Jeep will launch its Grand Wagoneer rival to the Range Rover in 2019, which the company has all but confirmed will be produced on a body-on-frame chassis.
While some components could be shared with a Maserati SUV, an Automotive News report has this week revealed a quote from FCA chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne, who said the Giorgio rear- and all-wheel drive platform underpinning the Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan and Stelvio medium SUV will be amortised across brands including Jeep and Maserati.
“The investment in Alfa Romeo and certainly the technical investment in the (Giorgio) architecture was something that was designed to benefit more than Alfa,” Mr Marchionne told Automotive News.
“I'm happy that we have finally found clarity of thought in the extension of these architectures well beyond Alfa.”
He added that Giorgio would underpin “the whole Maserati development beyond 2018.”
Although Mr Sealey has in the past ruled out Maserati offering an SUV with a starting price of below $150,000 and positioned as a smaller complement to the Levante, he has now re-opened the door to that possibility too.
The Stelvio measures 4867mm in length, demonstrably shorter than the 5003mm Levante.
“If we chose to go downmarket with something smaller, it would have to be something that incorporates those six brand pillars for Maserati,” Mr Sealey said, outlining these as performance, sound, exclusivity, Italian made, craftsmanship and design.
“Whether that would be something smaller and far sportier, I don’t know (but) certainly there is a market opportunity there.
“I’ve always said our brand is an exclusive brand. Below us we have premium brands, above us we have exotic brands. Where we sit – we sit as an exclusive brand and we are protective of that.”
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