Exactly 100 years ago, er, yesterday Maserati was founded. So earlier this year, to celebrate its centenary Maser did what all good Italian sports car manufacturers do to commemorate a landmark birthday - it built a drool-inducingly good-looking concept car
called the Alfieri
Underpinnings have changed, looks won't
They should have handed out bibs on the Geneva show stand it was that attractive; it caused Porsche and Jaguar to raise an eyebrow and clasp respective 911 and F-Type models even tighter into their protective bosom.
Now confirmed for production in 2016 and - importantly - confirmed to keep those looks and that Alfieri name after "the most prominent of the Maserati brothers", we can wheel the GranTurismo off into retirement safe in the knowledge that there'll be a new swinging V6 turbo appendage coming out of Modena. This will be the Maserati sports car until the GT's replacement arrives in 2018.
A turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 will power the Alfieri range, producing 410hp in rear-wheel drive Carrera S bothering guise and all four wheels in the 450hp and 520hp variants that'll give the Merc-AMG GT and F-Type something to ponder.
We can already hear the engineering departments assembling in Affalterbach and Coventry.
It's not all good news for the purists
The Alfieri will be, in the immortal words of Ronnie Coleman, lightweight baby. That's because Maserati has just signed a tech share deal with Airbus. Unlike the concept, the Alfieri will be based on an adapted version of the more modern Ghibli/Quattroporte platform, not a shortened GranTurismo chassis. With the Airbus tie-up expect to see extensive use of composites and lightweight metals - we're hoping for some lovely extruded aluminium detailing to make it in the cabin. Should help keep the weight of the eventual cabriolet down (due in 2017), anyway.
Despite aerospace grade materials, it seems price won't be proportional to the use of unobtanium. Rumours have it that the Alfieri will start at £60,000.
Before we get to see the Alfieri's shapely silhouette in production form, however, we'll have to watch one of the last bastions of individuality against the on-road off-roader trend capitulate and jump on the SUV bandwagon.
Maserati chases volume; had to happen
Next year we will see a diesel 4x4 Maserati.
We've witnessed the spy shots of the Levante (nee Kubang - thank god it isn't called the latter) already. It looks, well, like an SUV but it'll be instrumental in attempting to hit the brand's ambitious sales targets of 75,000 units per year by 2018. You can see why Maserati has done it, wanting to join in the profit grabbing in China, the US and the Middle East and no doubt wanting a slice of the crossover pie. But is a diesel SUV wearing a Trident on its grille a good thing?
Does the world really need a Maserati 4x4? Does it want one is another question? That's for the market to decide, so guess how that'll turn out? Could be worse though, it could look like a Bentley...