Maserati names upcoming models including new Levante SUV

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Maserati chose the Paris motor show to reveal the name of its upcoming crossover SUV as well as what it will call its new 5 Series and E-Class fighting E-segment sport sedan.

Starting with the former, the new Jeep Grand Cherokee-based sport utility won't be named Kubang, as has been the case for both of the concept crossovers that preceded its announcement as a production model (the first Kubang making the 2003 auto show rounds and the most recent Kubang at least year's Frankfurt motor show), but rather Levante, a name pulled from the sport-luxury marque's beginnings.

It was nearly a century ago at Via Emilia Levante in Bologna, Italy that the Maserati brothers dreamed up the company that continues to bear their family name today. So with Maserati's Centennial year about to arrive in 2014, it only seems fitting that the model destined to take the revered Italian manufacturer into an entirely new segment will arrive at the beginning of its second hundred years, a point in time that could be seen as a new era for the brand. No doubt Maserati will be hoping its new Levante and the entire Trident brand follows a similar path to German sports car maker Porsche, and the success it's had with the Cayenne SUV.

Porsche has also enjoyed success in the full-size sport sedan arena with its new Panamera four-door coupe, although Maserati has been building world-class super sedans for close to fifty years. The first Quattroporte was introduced in 1963 and was then considered to be the fastest four-door in the world, while the current iteration has helped to propel the brand to never before attained levels of sales success. Maserati will introduce a new Quattroporte next year, perfectly timed for the nameplate's half-century celebration.

Lastly, Maserati will delve into its sports car making glory days in order to name its upcoming E-segment sport sedan. The new four-door, which will slot in above E-Class and 5 Series models, or anything else in the premium midsize category, will be dubbed Ghibli after one of the best known classic two-seat sports cars of Maserati lore. Some purists might balk at Maserati's choice of Ghibli for a four-door sedan in the same way that muscle car fans lambasted Dodge for labeling its full-size four-door Charger, but others will remember that Maserati dusted off the Ghibli moniker for a four-seat sports coupe in 1992, and will see the new four-door Ghibli as simply being a natural progression for the name.

A Ghibli, incidentally, is a Saharan wind more commonly known by the name Sirocco. Maserati has a history of naming models after exotic winds, so choosing Ghibli for its E-segment sedan pays homage to other models like Mistral, Khamsin, and of course, Bora. Even the name Kubang (in case you were wondering) was named after an exotic wind derived from Java.

Maserati is targeting 50,000 unit sales annually by 2015, and will be looking to the new Ghibli, upcoming Levante, to lead the way. Of course the updated Quattroporte will support future growth, while the ever-popular GranTurismo Coupe and Convertible will continue to enjoy a strong following before being updated soon after.

Drawing crowds at its Paris show stand, Maserati unveiled a specially tuned version of its GranTurismo Convertible, dubbed GranCabrio in Europe. The new 2013 GranCabrio MC sports a more aggressive carbon-fibre enhanced front fascia that adds five centimeters to the car's overall length. Revised headlamp clusters incorporate LED daytime running lights, while at the back a larger rear deck lid spoiler adds downforce. The MC also dresses up the interior with new front sport seats that boast stronger side bolstering as well as carved out seatbacks to improve rear knee room. The seats can be finished in carbon-fibre for an additional price. Under the hood, the MC gets the same 460-horsepower 4.7-litre V8 offered with the GranTurismo Sport.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Maserati, Kubang, GranCabrio MC, Levante,

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