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Maserati’s M5 rival a step closer

Around the corner: The replacement for the current-generation Maserati Quattroporte (left) will be launched globally next year.

New mid-sized Maserati set for 2013 production alongside all-new Quattroporte

13 Apr 2012

MASERATI’S new BMW M5 competitor will be built in a former Bertone factory that will also handle production of the famous Italian marque’s all-new, bigger Quattroporte limo due next year.

Parent company Fiat is spending €500 ($A631m) to upgrade the plant – acquired by Italy’s biggest motor conglomerate a little over two years ago – in readiness for production start up late this year.

The move will free up space on the assembly line at Maserati’s existing Modena facility for production of sister company Alfa Romeo’s much-anticipated 4C compact sports coupe alongside the current Maserati GranTurismo and GranCabrio from May next year.

The super-light Alfa (850kg) requires the specialised construction facilities of the Maserati plant because of its composite body, which is beyond the scope of Alfa factories.

The two-plant production strategy is said to be critical to Maserati’s own ambitious plans for expansion over the next three years, from 6159 units globally last year to 50,000 in 2015.

The problem for Maserati has been that the Modena plant cannot be expanded, because it is surrounded on all four sides by immovable objects – a major rail line, two big roads and a one-time Ferrari factory that is now an important automotive heritage centre.

 center imageFrom top: Maserati headquarters, Alfa 4C and Maserati Kubang.

As well as extending production to the old Bertone factory, Maserati will also take advantage of its new links with Chrysler Group by sourcing its first SUV, the Kubang, from Jeep’s Cherokee plant in Michigan.

The Kubang – adopting Jeep underpinnings but with a Ferrari-sourced powertrain and unique Maserati body and suspension treatment – is due to go into production towards the end of 2014, instantly becoming Maserati’s top-selling model if all goes according to plan.

As GoAuto has reported, the Kubang is predicted to achieve up to 20,000 sales a year on its own.

The new, unnamed mid-sized Maserati sedan is expected to start rolling off the production line in the third quarter of 2013, no doubt becoming Maserati’s second biggest contributor in the long term, well above the existing GranTurismo, GranCabrio and Quattroporte.

The latter is on a countdown for an all-new model next year, with a debut expected at the 2013 Detroit motor show in January ahead of a European rollout in the first quarter.

Spy shots and reports out of Europe suggest the sixth-generation Quattroporte is larger than the current model, apparently to appeal to the Chinese market where rear-seat room is paramount in a car of this ilk.

By expanding the Quattroporte, Maserati is also making room in the range for the new mid-sizer.

The current Quattroporte has been in production since 2004, with a facelift in 2009. In Australia, the Quattroporte is sold in the standard Quattraporte 4.2 and 4.7-litre Sport GT S guises.

The Alfa 4C will not be the first Alfa built by Maserati – it once built the limited-edition Alfa 8C and 8C Spider.

However, the 4C will be a series production model, aimed at global markets, including Australia where it is expected in showrooms by 2014, under new distribution rights that shift to Chrysler Australia Group.

Unveiled in concept form at the 2011 Geneva motor show, the 4C will have a mid-mounted turbocharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine wrapped in a composite/aluminium body and driving the rear wheels via a dual-clutch automatic transmission.

The 4C will effectively replace the Alfa Brera coupe, which is now out of production.

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