How Maserati plans to get back on top: new cars, engines and electrification
YesAuto was invited inside Maserati’s Innovation Lab to get the full lowdown on how the brand plans to recapture its glory. - By Nick Francis
You can get as misty-eyed as you like about Maserati: stare off into space and think of Fangio, quote Sir Stirling Moss, dream of the Berlinetta. But the fact is the last ten years or so things have been far from rosy for the brand, and that’s because the product went well and truly off the boil. The cars in recent years have been expensive and so-so, in the same way, that Starbucks coffee is expensive and so-so. But once Maserati was the bedroom wall poster of choice: cars like the Tipo 151 and the Bora made schoolkids genuinely fight over which is cooler, a Maserati or a Ferrari. The last time Maserati truly set pulses racing was with the MC12 in 2004, and that was a re-skinned Ferrari Enzo.
But after attending the unveiling of the MC20 - MC12’s successor - it’s clear that Maserati has rediscovered its vigour. While we haven’t yet driven the MC20, surely no one can disagree that it’s a beautiful thing, and with on-paper numbers like 621bhp and 0-62mph of under 2.9 seconds, it sounds like it will be an absolute screamer. Will it be as good as a McLaren 720S? That remains to be seen, but finally, we have a Maserati which quickens the heartrate on first sight.
But it’s more than that, more than just a case of ‘thank god Maserati has made a pretty car again’. There’s a real air of optimism and intent in Modena at the moment, that the MC20 is the start of much better things to come. Not only will the mid-engined MC20 see a return to motorsport for Maserati, it will act as a halo car to a multi-billion pound revamp of the entire brand, which will be centred around new and exciting products.
YesAuto was invited inside Maserati’s ‘Innovation Lab’ in Modena, where the MC20 was designed, to be shown the brand’s roadmap for the coming years. It was refreshing to hear one of the head honchos admit in his thick Italian accent that the current range is looking ‘preeddee tired’ and that Maserati recognises that it needs to appeal to broader and younger audiences - not just men wearing leather elbow patches who were old enough to drink when Stirling Moss won the Monaco Grand Prix in a 250F.
Maserati’s plan is ambitious: it says it will launch 13 new models by 2024. That’s less than four years away. Thirteen models. Wow. Even so, that is achievable, largely because it will have an EV version of each new car, which means technically there will be smattering of new models, but they will be brought up to date with a cutting edge EV powertrain.
Maserati’s EV powertrain
The first car to get the full electrification treatment will be the MC20. Halo car, first to get halo tech, and all that. This will arrive in 2022 and will kick off Maserati’s ‘Folgore’ range, which is Italiano for ‘lightning’ (where do they get their ideas from?). All Maserati EVs will live under the Folgore banner and will be equipped with an EV powertrain developed entirely in-house at the very Innovation Lab this article is being written in. It will feature three electric motors - one on the front and two on the back - which will give each car it is stuffed into all-wheel-drive capability but also torque vectoring, which means they should be rather fun to drive. Using an 800V system, it will be able to charge the car’s battery at rates of up to 300kW, which means it will take just 20 minutes to top up to 80%.
Okay. So as we know the MC20, which will go on sale towards the end of this year or early next year, will kick things off, and is expected to cost around the £190K mark. But it will be followed closely by a brand-new small SUV called the Grecale, which will probably share much of its DNA with the Alfa Romeo Stelvio. Fun fact: ‘Grecale’ is the name of wind which blows off the Mediterranean Sea, maintaining Maserati’s tradition of naming cars after wind. The weather kind.
Next year will also see the launch of new versions of the GranTurismo and GranCabrio, and they will both also get the full-EV treatment, but not until 2022. The same year will also see the arrival of the fully electric MC20 and Gracale SUV. In 2023 a completely new Quattroporte and Levante will turn up and, yes, they will be available in battery-powered flavour, as well as a range of combustion engines.
All of this change means the Maserati range will have an average age of less than two years, which is impressive, and Maserati also predict 70% of its sales will be SUVs, which is a shame because the Maserati we know and love makes beautiful sportscars. But hey, it works for Porsche, right?
*Maserati's Innovation Lab is home to one of the most advanced driving simulators in the world. Naturally, it's usually off-limits but YesAuto were granted a quick look inside. Check the video here.