Although it may seem like it, the Maserati Alfieri concept car was not actually revealed before the onset of the first Ice Age. I know, I know. It may feel as though at least two million years of human history have passed beneath out feet since we first clapped eyes on this rather impressive-looking coupe design study, but closer examination of the records reveals that it was actually first shown to the public at the Geneva show in 2014.
Still, from the outside at least, it looked pretty much production-ready. The Granturismo was coming up for its seventh birthday and it seemed like the ideal time for a replacement to be launched. The people from Maserati all stood around their new creation, making noises about 520 horsepower and all-wheel drive and it all sounded very exciting, but then, nothing really happened.
After a week of dazzling visitors to the Maser stand at the show, the concept was wheeled back to Italy and tucked away in a dark corner. Maserati then busied themselves with launching their quite nice Ghibli saloon, and the not very nice Levante SUV. Every so often, someone would poke the factory boys with a stick and ask when we might see the Alfieri only to be met with a typical Italian shrug. “Ahh, is coming, Alfieri is coming” they would say.
Well now, a full five years down the line, we’ve received the news that the Alfieri really is coming and that it should be in showrooms at some point in the next twelve months.
In a rather brief press release this week, the chaps from the most famous car maker in Modena (whose name begins with the letter ‘M’ at least) have revealed that the Alfieri will be a “characteristically Maserati sports car”, whatever that means, and that pre-production models are due to be built in the first half of next year. Which should mean that the first customer cars should be delivered by the end of 2020. Although this is Italy, so don’t hold me to that.
Maser have also given us a small teaser of what to expect from the new car mechanically, and I’m afraid it isn’t good news for those of you who like your steak raw and your internal combustion unsullied. We’re told that the production Alfieri will feature a plug-in hybrid powertrain with something called E-AWD, which presumably means all four wheels will be assisted by motors of an electrical nature. Although no further details are given about the engine itself, I wouldn’t bet against an electrically assisted version of the three-litre V6 unit seen elsewhere in the Maser range. They have treated us to some performance figures though, which I’m sure have been scientifically worked out with enormous banks of computers and not simply plucked from the mind of a nine-year-old child. You wanna know? 0-60 in 2 seconds flat and a top speed of “186 MPH+”.
The new range-topper will also feature active aero and “Maximum weight reduction”, which is another way of saying that they’ve concentrated on making it as light as they can, hard work which they almost immediately ruin by admitting that the car would be 175kg lighter without the bloody hybrid system. Never mind.
Anyway, the point is that the Alfieri is finally on the home straight, and I for one couldn’t be more excited. This, above any other is the car I’m looking forward to the most in the next couple of years. I think it looks stunning, and after years of churning out nice-if-you-like-that-sort-of-thing saloons and two-star SUV’s, it’ll be nice to have a Maser that people can drool over again.
Don’t get me wrong, I adore the old Granturismo. I know that it’s 700 years old, I know the sat-nav is from a Peugeot and whenever you consult it, all it tells you is that nine satellites are visible but gives you no information about where you are or where you are going. I know that it drives like a 90’s Mustang with shot dampers, and I know that it’s way too big. But it’s a Maserati and I just can’t help but want one because of all their heritage and history, and even though that’s like saying you support West Bromwich Albion because they won the 1968 FA Cup Final, there are still plenty of people who do.
I don’t want the Alfieri to be like West Brom though. I want it to be like Leicester City, who emerged from years in the wilderness to win the whole bloody Premier League. Will it happen though? Well, it looks as if we’re finally getting close to finding out.