Last year Maserati recorded its first profit in 17 years, posting a €1 million trading profit for the second quarter, but according to officials this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Early last year the boss of Maserati’s parent company, Sergio Marchionne, made the bold objective that Maserati would deliver up to 12,000 units in 2011, and we suspect that he’s not one to back down on his claims. This year Maserati is on track to sell 9,000 vehicles, up from 7,500 last year, and if it hopes to come near the 12,000 target a new model is a must.
In March, Maserati CEO Roberto Ronchi revealed to Reuters his desire to expand the current lineup, with the most likely option being a small coupe rather than the speculated SUV model. Now, once again, Ronchi has told reporters that Maserati is considering developing a new model. In order to achieve Maserati’s desired sales and profit growth it will need a new model, he said. “We want to make a decision on the new model in the first quarter of this year. The market launch for the car will take place 18 to 36 months later. An SUV model has been ruled out because the segment is declining and is already too crowded. We want to target Porsche with a sports car priced around €80,000 to €90,000,” Ronchi detailed
Insiders suggest that, if given the green-light, the new sports car would likely receive a revised version of Maserati’s 4.2L V8, detuned to around 350bhp and mated to a semi-automatic gearbox with paddle-shifters. With the GranTurismo growing in size to rival mega-coupes like the Mercedes CL, there’s definitely a gap in Maserati’s lineup for a new smaller performance model.
Alfa Romeo is set for a rough couple of years. The carmaker is on the verge of relaunching in the U.S. and to make matters worse the boss of its parent company, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, has laid down the challenge of doubling Alfa’s sales and turning around the carmaker’s fortunes before its centenary in June 2010. This gives Alfa Romeo’s new CEO Luca De Meo roughly 1,000 days to set things right.
Alfa Romeo still has a lot of problems on its hands. The carmaker has been losing more than €200 million per year, and its volume 159 compact sedan is selling far below expectations. Worst of all, its cars perform poorly in customer satisfaction rankings in most major European markets. For example, Alfas were rated second-to-last in last year’s J.D. Power’s survey for the UK.
If anyone is capable of improving Alfa, it’s De Meo. The Italian exec is credited with turning around Fiat’s performance during the 1990s and he’s also dabbled with the Lancia brand as well. Unfortunately, with Alfa’s rather narrow and aged model lineup, and the main Pomigliano d’Arco plant shut down for two months, De Meo will have a tough time meeting the 300,000 unit target by 2010, reports Automotive News Europe.
Two strategies should help Alfa boost sales by 125,000 units in the middle term: the long rumored Junior subcompact hatchback, to be released in September, and the brand’s return to the U.S. market after 14 years of absence. Fiat’s new model rollout, however, including cars like the 147 and 166 replacements, the 149 five-door compact hatchback and the 169 mid-size sedan, have been delayed to either 2009 and 2010, and crossover fans will have to wait even more to buy anything like the five-year old Kamal concept.
One key feature of all future Alfa’s will be that designers will focus on saving weight during the development phase. Combined with a push for RWD platforms as well as the carmaker’s trademark gorgeous styling, we’re in store for some good looking and strong performance cars.
Novitec has created some cosmetic upgrades for the Alfa Romeo Spider. A new front bumper and rear diffuser as well as four new oval tailpipes add style while the new stainless steel muffler accentuates the sound. New 20-inch rims wearing Pirelli 255/30R20 tires and an adjustable suspension improves grip.
Beginning in September 2009, the Fiat Group will offer its first-ever semi-automatic dual clutch gearbox. Fiat’s announcement comes only a few weeks after Volvo and BMW released their versions of semi-automated dual clutch transmissions.
The new 6-speed gearbox which Fiat calls DDC (Dual Dry Clutch) has been developed by Fiat Powertrain Technologies (FPT), a Fiat Group company and it’s one of three variants of a new family of 6speed transmissions dubbed “C635”. The other two variants are a manual and an automated manual transmission that will be available in June 2009 and 2010 respectively.
The new Fiat Powertrain Technologies C635 transmission will be used be used on various Fiat, Lancia and Alfa Romeo models in the B, C, and D segments provided that their maximum engine torque is up to 350 Nm or 258 lb/ft.
Continuing a tradition which began in 2004 with the introduction of the four-door Quattroporte, Maserati has brought Italian flair and desire to Naples, allowing one lucky individual the chance to return from the annual Naples Winter Wine Festival with an even rarer vintage — a 2008 specially customized GranTurismo luxury performance coupe.
The deep metallic carbon black beauty has elegant beige interior with contrasting black stitching along with unique door sills reading “2008 Naples Winter Wine Festival 1 of 1.” The stunning four seat coupe offered for auction brought in a strong bid of $350,000, more than three times its base price. The 2008 auction benefitted the Naples Children & Education Foundation, a collection of more than 20 individual charitable and educational programs that improve the physical, emotional and educational lives of underprivileged or at risk children in Collier County.
The 2008 Naples Winter Wine Festival was dominated by collections of truly rare vintages of wine donated by renowned U.S. and international wineries, as well as private donors. Auction packages included more than 70 exclusive lots, including exotic excursions, private dinners, luxury cruises, tickets to the Academy Awards — as well as an opportunity to be one of the first to take ownership of the 2008 GranTurismo, Maserati’s award-winning high-performance sports car.
So the M3 is just a little too raucous and hard-edged, the regular 3-series is too soft and sedated, and you want four-wheel drive traction with your luxo-performance ride? Well, then, Goldilocks, the Alpina B3 Bi-turbo AWD is just what you’re looking for: it adds that little kick that’s missing from the original.
Powered by a hotted-up version of the same twin-turbo straight six that gooses the 335i to factory fame, the Alpina B3 cranks out 360hp, an improvement of 54hp over stock. Those raging horses are not lacking for traction either, thanks to Xdrive AWD technology, which gives AWD launches, safe performance in bad weather and handles like you’d expect from a performance sedan – or coupe, or touring wagon, since it’s available in all three forms. No word yet on availability or pricing, but expect it to clock in somewhere between the 335i and the M3 – remember, this is Goldilocks’ car, and the price, like the performance-to-comfort ratio, is intended to be just right.
In a year’s time, most probably at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show, Alfa Romeo will unveil the successor to its 147 compact sport hatch that has been in the market since 2000 having received a facelift in 2004. The 149 will be available in 3door and 5door variants and it will compete in the premium compact hatch segment against the Audi A3 and BMW 1-Series. Using an official sketch of the 149 that Alfa Romeo released last year as a base, Italian car magazine Quattroruote created a set of renderings to give us an idea of how the sport hatch could look like.
There’s no way of telling how close the renderings are to the final product that we’ll see in 2009, but from what we’ve been told by Alfa Romeo sources, the 149 will indeed borrow several design cues from the 8c Competizione as Quattroruote’s sketches imply.
The 149 will be based on a modified version of the Fiat Bravo platform and according to Alfa Romeo, it will feature a multi-link rear suspension and Active Roll Control. Power will come from a wide range of petrol and diesel units including a base 120 HP 1.4-liter Turbo gasoline engine and a 265 HP 3.2-liter V6 unit for the top-notch GTA version that will compete with the Audi S3 and BMW 135i.
Italian firm uncovers plans for retro design drop-top 500.
Fiat’s going to roll back the years – literally. The firm will pull the wraps off a new soft-top 500 at the Geneva Motor Show in March. And in keeping with the city car’s retro design, it will have a similar roof mechanism to the original 500’s.
The newcomer will use a full-length fabric roof that slides back to store on top of the parcel shelf. It will retain a glass rear window, plus full-frame doors and the hatch’s roofline. The Swiss show will also see the debut of the 500 Abarth SS hot hatch. This has a 1.4-litre turbo engine which delivers 155bhp. Expect these new versions of the 500 to arrive in dealerships by the end of the year.