“We’re all about the f#cking sound,” jokes Maserati marketing boss Saad Chehab.
A candid insight, he goes on to explain that while the exhaust note of a Maserati is important, the brand’s values can also be found in the design, pedigree, history and exclusivity of its models. But its newest car will bring to the fore a trait one simply assumes is a part of any fine Italian machine: performance.
Set to launch as early as next year, we had a chance to sit down with Maserati Chief Marketing Officer Saad Chehab at the Canadian International Auto Show to discuss the upcoming Alfieri sports car. He confirmed the car’s production and said that the brand hopes to launch it in 2016, though he did comment that the Levante SUV will arrive first and that Maserati wants to give each model proper breathing room in the media spotlight.
Photos, or even an up-close and personal inspection may not reveal it, but the Alfieri is significantly smaller than the brand’s GranTurismo coupe. Chehab points out that measured bonnet to boot it’s roughly a foot shorter.
Sitting alongside the Gran Turismo, rather than replacing it, neither car will be situated as the brand’s flagship model said Chehab. Instead the two cars will be equal but different.
“It’s going to be a true sports car,” said Chehab. Like the GT it will offer a 2+2 seating arrangement but the rear seats won’t be nearly as functional. “The package is a lot more performance oriented,” he said, with greater emphasis on agility.
That performance won’t come through wildly oversized engines either, but likely through downsized turbocharged ones – including the brand’s new V6.
When pressed about possible engines for the Alfieri, Chehab said to look at what Ferrari (a brand that just introduced turbocharging in the California and 488 GTB) is doing these days.
SEE ALSO: Ferrari 488 GTB First Look
“We have already turbocharged V6s,” he said, referencing the new twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 in the Ghibli. And in addition to delivering serious power, “they’ve proven to be amazing in sound.”
Admitting that he was skeptical that a turbocharged motor could make the right kind of exhaust note for the brand, the Ghibli proved him wrong. “I’m a believer now,” he said.
And rather than big turbocharged V8s, the Alfieri is likely to get a version of the Ghibli’s turbo-six as outlined in the brand’s latest investor presentation with a base model making around 410 hp, while higher performance versions make anywhere from 450 to 520 hp.
SEE ALSO: Maserati Ghibli First Drive
Those numbers certainly aren’t lacking, but to make the most of them Maserati aims to make the Alfieri light.
The Alfieri will be, “much lighter than the Gran Turismo,” said Chehab partially due to its size but also as a result of the materials used. When asked if the car will make use of carbon fiber or light weight aluminum Chehab commented that, “We’re looking at a mix of materials that give us the best performance possible, the best handling, the best power to weight ratio and still keep the best value as well.”
Maserati brand boss Harald Wester, “has a belief in light weight versus power,” said Chehab. Wester has also been tasked with recreating the Alfa Romeo brand, which recently returned to North America with it’s ultra light weight 4C sports car. He says the 4C gives a good idea of the way Wester thinks, but cautions not to draw direct comparisons between the Alfieri and that car.
VIDEO: Alfa Romeo 4C First Drive
When it does arrive, in late 2016 or early 2017, the production Alfieri will be immediately recognizable. Chehab said the concept is 95 percent production ready in terms of styling. Like many an automotive enthusiast he admits he’s been disappointed by too many concept cars that were toned down for production and guarantees that that won’t happen here.
VIDEO: Maserati Alfieri First Look
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