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Chrysler-based Maserati Levante (née Kubang) SUV

In January 2011, Sergio Marchionne confirmed a Jeep Grand Cherokee-based Maserati to be made in Detroit. Powered (as predicted) by a 4.7-liter Ferrari V8 and ZF eight-speed automatic, a sportier version of the luxury SUV was unveiled on September 13, 2011, at the Frankfurt Auto Show, as the Maserati Kubang. The final production car, called Maserati Levante, will use an engine created by Paolo Martinelli, developed by Maserati, and made by Ferrari. (In late October 2012, Marchionne changed the plan; the Maserati Levante will be made in Italy, to use existing capacity, and will use the Maserati large-car platform — itself based loosely on the Chrysler 300C.)

The name Levante, announced in September 2012, means “East” in Italian. Maserati plans to build up to 25,000 Levantes per year, roughly double the number of planned Quattroportes.

Maserati Kubang

Marchionne had mentioned the possibility of this vehicle while praising the Grand Cherokee’s architecture, but noted that the Maserati version would have numerous differences, including a more powerful engine. He had praised the versatility of the Grand Cherokee and its ability to easily handle more power.

K.Oellinger pointed to a report in Alvolante which specifies the 4.7 liter Ferrari V8 or a higher-performance VM 3-liter V6 diesel pushing out 300 hp and gobs of torque, using the eight-speed automatic. Production of the Kubang appears to be projected at 20,000 units per year, roughly half of total Maserati production. The diesel will also be used in the “baby Quattroporte” to be made by Bertone in Turin. Ferrari, meanwhile, is planning an optional AWD system along with direct injection.

Jeep-based Maserati SUV

The press release reads:

The essence and all major system components of the Maserati sport luxury SUV will unmistakably be Maserati: style, engine, suspensions, brakes, handling and performance will all be 100% Maserati... created by the Maserati Style Center headed by Lorenzo Ramaciotti. ... New-generation high-tech Maserati proprietary engines will be designed in Modena by Paolo Martinelli - Head of the Maserati Powertrain Department ... will be produced in Maranello by Ferrari.

Jeep-Maserati Kubang

An AT 8 speed automatic transmission and specific performance settings such as suspensions, brakes, steering will be exclusively developed in Modena for the Maserati sport luxury SUV by the Maserati Product Development Department.

Frankfurt auto show

The 392 Hemi currently produces 470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque, but it is large (6.4 liters) and relatively heavy compared to Maserati’s 4.7 liter V8 engine shared with Ferrari; it produces 444 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque in the GranTurismo MC. Equipped with a ZF six speed automatic, the GranTurismo is rated at 0-60 in 4.8 seconds, making it the fastest production Maserati available in North America. (The 2012 Maserati GranTurismo MC starts at $139,900 in the US). Ambiguously, the Maserati Kubang’s engine is only referred to as being developed by Maserati, which could mean anything from a twin-turbo Pentastar Six to a “tweaked” 5.7 Hemi with all the fittings to our pick, a version of the Maserati 4.7 V8. It’s also possibly a recently rumored 4.8 V8 engine based on the Pentastar Six could be the “proprietary Maserati engine,” though a 60 degree V8 is unusual.

The switch from Grand Cherokee to a large-car basis for the SUV was confirmed in the 2013 financial report, which noted a $65 million charge for Maserati R&D “due to change of platform for luxury SUV.”

maserati kubang suv

What Allpar “got right:” the transmission; its existence; the brand (not Alfa but Maserati); the general look. What we didn’t quite get: the engine. JackRatchett’s early-2010 rendering was close to “dead on,” the main difference being in the hood/tailgate treatment (but nailing the rear “shoulder”).

Kubang image

Maserati’s press release:

A new generation of Maserati high-tech proprietary engines are being designed in Modena, Italy at Maserati Headquarters by Paolo Martinelli, Head of the Maserati Powertrain Development. Before undertaking this role, Martinelli spent nearly thirty years with Ferrari, eventually as the Head of the Engine Department for the Formula 1 team across the era of Michael Schumacher’s world championships. Production of the new Maserati engines will be performed by Ferrari in Maranello, Italy and they will be mated to a new 8-speed automatic transmission.

Componentry with specific performance settings such as suspension, brakes, steering and electronics will be exclusively developed by Maserati engineers in Modena, Italy.

maserati crossover

Ryan Goimarac wrote that the SRT8 and Maserati versions, which he spied being tested in Auburn Hills, both had quad exhaust, different 20” wheels, and different suspension components. The Maserati engine was definitely not a Chrysler version; it had stickers on the inside and front window with a different “literage.” It had no Jeep badging; some of the cars we saw had tons of wires and sensors and/or cameras attached to side and rear of car.

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