Maserati is one of those brands that seems to have been permanently in the shadow of Italian counterparts Ferrari and Lamborghini; in fact, in its roots it predates both, this being the company’s centenary year. It has not been without its problems – it has changed hands more than a fair share of times in the past twenty years – and almost died in the 1980’s with the disastrous Biturbo range. However, under FIAT’s guidance Maserati has undergone something of a resurgence, and the current model range is one of interesting and successful models. Long a maker of luxurious, high speed Grand Tourers, it came as something as a surprise when the Maserati Kubang was revealed to the world, yet this is a car with much to offer.
Luxury SUV Offering
The clever thing about the Maserati Kubang is that it has that flair exclusive to Italian vehicles; there is something very attractive about the name Maserati (although Kubang we’re not so sure about) that has entranced American buyers in recent years. Even more advantageous is that FIAT now owns Chrysler, giving it access not only to a production line that already builds an SUV – the Jeep Grand Cherokee – but to a platform that forms the base of the car itself. Build takes place in conjunction with the Cherokee in the Detroit factory, emphasising the model’s aim at the American Market. Maserati offers luxury in a package that may only be found in a few other vehicles, and it seems to have hit the mark with potential buyers.
The prospect of a Maserati SUV is one that may have some people frowning, while others will look at the idea with glee; that the Kubang will get the engine from the new Quattroporte – a 4.5liter V8 that produces a wonderful 500bhp – as well as that car’s new automatic gearbox is a major bonus. Such power can only mean colossal performance for a vehicle of this size, and it is to be expected that it will sit well in line with its main competitors. Porsche’s Cayenne is one, the BMW X5M another, and the Range Rover Sport perhaps the closest. Maybe the buyer who wants something a little more exclusive will be swayed by the first production SUV to bear the Maserati name (as an aside, some will be sold in Europe badged as Lancia’s).
Who is it aimed at?
There are two possible customer bases for the Maserati Kubang; the first is the well-heeled executive who wants something different, especially in the USA where the SUV genre is very popular indeed. The Kubang is a great choice for those who don’t like the often-controversial looks of the Porsche Cayenne, and also for people who want a capable and powerful car that looks great and goes well. The second potential market sector is the many wealthy people who live in countries that are still developing and, perhaps, do not have access to smooth prepared roads everywhere. South America, for instance, as well as China, another emerging market, are both potential untapped sales regions for the Kubang, and for Maserati as a whole. However, it is clear the car is squarely targeted at the rich of America, and it is there that it will surely find a niche.
Prospects for the Maserati Kubang
In truth, the idea of a luxury Maserati SUV is not a new one; a concept was unveiled some years ago but was shelved in the light of financial difficulties. The tie-up between FIAT and Chrysler gave new impetus to the project, hence the Kubang was born. However, it must be regarded as a risky prospect, given that it is priced at between $70,000 and $100,000 and is up against some well-regarded and time-served competitors. Maserati has, we must say, made quite a mark in the USA of late – many a wealthy wife drives one with glee – and is something of a style icon, and with the Kubang being built by Chrysler it has something of a strong American connection. The other attractions are the truly fantastic engine – it has Ferrari roots, after all – plus great looks and capability provided by its family link to the Jeep Grand Cherokee, as well as the already mentioned exclusivity.
The Maserati Kubang represents a new step for a company that has a century of producing exciting sports cars and supercars behind it, but is one that will bring the name to potential new markets across the world.