Maserati revealed a new concept SUV, called the Kubang, at the Frankfurt Auto Show in Germany. The Kubang gets its name from a Javan wind- a Maserati naming tradition that dates back to the 1963 Maserati Mistral.
The famed Italian company is best known for its sports cars and grand tourers, but is now considering launching a midsize SUV that will be aimed at the Porsche Cayenne and the upcoming Aston Martin Lagonda.
The new model would be based off of the current Jeep Grand Cherokee. While that may sound a bit odd for an Italian sports car maker, Jeep and Maserati are now both owned by FIAT, so there has been a lot of this kind of sharing going on between the companies lately.
What's more, the Grand Cherokee shares a lot of itself with the latest Mercedes M-Class - a remnant of the days when Chrysler was owned by Daimler, Mercedes' parent company. So thanks to several rounds of automaker intermingling, the new Maserati SUV is going to be a hot Italian version of a Mercedes SUV, and that sounds pretty good to us.
Maserati's traditional factory in Modena is already working at capacity, so the Kubang will be built alongside its Grand Cherokee and Durango siblings in Chrysler's Jefferson North assembly plant in Detroit, Mich.
In spite of the car's mixed heritage, Maserati is insistent that its new SUV will pack a wallop worthy of its Italian badge. None of Maserati's current engines would fit the bill, so the company is having engine designer Paolo Martinelli draw up a new one. Martinelli used to pen the engines for Ferrari's Formula One racecars. Brembo brakes and a performance-oriented suspension round out the Kubang's Italian sports car credentials.
See more coverage of the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show.
|J. MARK STERNBERG is an automotive journalist, car enthusiast and writer with a degree from the University of Arizona. Mark is a devoted Formula 1 fan and also enjoys boating, flying and attending the occasional track day..|