There were no fanfares and no advance press notices from Maserati for the Kubang concept ahead of its appearance at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, perhaps because we had seen it all before. That is to say we have seen a Kubang concept SUV from Maserati before, at the 2003 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
But times have changed for the company and owners Fiat. The Kubang that appeared at Frankfurt a few weeks ago gave Maserati an opportunity to call on the disparate parts of the new Fiat Empire to show how a premium sport SUV might look and where the parts might be drawn from.
Behind the familiar shark’s mouth grille was a sleek five-door SUV body, perhaps looking like the car that the BMW X6 might have wished it had been. Beneath the sculpted exterior lurks a Jeep Cherokee chassis. Conscious that this might not convey the kind of chassis sophistication that is a given from the Porsche Cayenne, Maserati was keen to point out that the Kubang’s dynamics will be Italian through and through.
The Maserati Style Center, under the direction of Lorenzo Ramaciotti, is credited with the Kubang concept’s lines. Paolo Martinelli, head of the Maserati Powertrain Department, will be responsible for designing the engine. Before that, he was a Ferrari insider for 30 years, including time as engine chief of the F1 racing team.
Maserati has given no details of the engines, but a development of the current Modena 4.2- and 4.7-L V8s would appear likely. Maserati suggests there will be more than one choice, referring to “new-generation high-tech Maserati proprietary engines.”
The drivetrain will incorporate an eight-speed automatic transmission. This, as well as suspension, brakes, and steering, will be developed in Modena by the Maserati Product Development Department specifically for the Kubang. As Maserati said at Frankfurt, these elements will be 100% Maserati.