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Maserati Reveals Detroit-made Kubang SUV

First luxury ute for Italian maker shares Jeep Grand Cherokee platform.

by on Sep.14, 2011

Maserati's Kubang Concept is expected to go into production next year.

It may sport the Italian automaker’s familiar trident logo on the oversized grille, but Maserati’s first sport-utility vehicle will be Made in Detroit, Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne confirmed during a preview at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Officially a concept, Maserati officials make no secret of their desire to get the new model into their showrooms as quickly as possible.  It will share the same underlying platform as the current Jeep Grand Cherokee but feature more sporty tuning and higher-line features that are expected to better fit the expectations of Maserati buyers.

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The final version “will unmistakably be Maserati: style, engine, suspensions, brakes, handling and performance,” Maserati officials stressed.

A production version of the long-awaited Maserati Kubang will become the latest in a growing list of high-lux SUVs – a list which includes the Porsche Cayenne and will likely be followed by a Bentley sport-ute.  Kubang is expected to become the single best-seller in Maserati ‘s U.S. line-up, company officials say.

Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne (far right) with other officials during the preview of the Maserati Kubang Concept.

Significantly, the Maserati Kubang concept does not appear to be just a rebadged Jeep.  It boasts a much more tapered and sexy body, with the Maserati trident anchoring a bold waterfall grille.  Jewel-like headlamps flow from the nose onto the corners.  The roofline curves almost coupe-like, in a style more similar to that of the current Maserati Quattroporte.  And the SUV gets the trademark Maserati portholes on the front fenders.

The overall look is almost that of a fastback, rather than a conventional, Detroit-style sport-utility vehicle.

As for powertrains, meanwhile, Maserati officials would only suggest that in production the Kubang would use “a new generation of proprietary engines” that sources indicate will be designed and built by sibling Italian brand Ferrari.  There had been speculation at least some engines – notably including the U.S. maker’s Hemi — as well as a promised 8-speed automatic gearbox – would come from Chrysler.

An earlier take on a Maserati Kubang design.

Maserati has long considered its SUV options, the new Kubang following eight years after an earlier prototype was shown in Frankfurt.  But it took the tie-up between Chrysler and Maserati’s parent, Fiat SpA, to come up with a justifiable business plan, insiders report.

The new offering is expected to go into production next year at the Jeep plant in Detroit.  The Maserati Kubang will be targeted at the U.S. market but should also be exported to Europe and other parts of the world.

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