In recent years, it seems as if Maserati was suffering from benign neglect, introducing new models, such as the Levante SUV and Ghibli sedan, only to see any follow up to maintain the interest the new models might generate dissipate like vapor.
If Maserati is a fairly small cog in the machinery of Stellantis, that’s because it is. The Italian automaker sold a mere 6,132 vehicles in the United States last year. Mercedes-Benz sells that many vehicles in little more three weeks. But Maserati North America’s new model launch at Willow Springs, California Tuesday indicates this might be the calm before the new model storm.
Not there wasn’t any news.
Technology wave crashes on new models
In an age where vehicle connectivity and advanced driver assistance systems generate the most interest among new car shoppers, the fact that new multimedia systems lead the changes for 2021 Maserati vehicles is indeed news.
Dubbed MIA, for Maserati Intelligent Assistant, the revised multimedia system is standard on all 2021 model year Maseratis. Employing an Android Automotive operating system, it allows for full personalization, according to Maserati, and is integrated into the new Maserati Connect app.
The new app allows owners to stay in touch with their car, apprising them of the car’s health, notifying them of any needed maintenance, assisting in emergencies, and helping in case of car theft. If you’d rather not use another app, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa will also work.
Other tech updates include the addition of Active Driving Assist, a hands-on driver assistance safety system that uses the adaptive cruise control, radar, and a forward-looking camera to keep the car centered in its lane for speeds up to 90 mph on well-maintained roads. Instrument clusters also receive new graphics on the analog speedometer and tachometer, and anti-glare glass on the 7-inch TFT display that separates them.
Performance updates for 2021
Perhaps most importantly, the Trofeo Collection, Maserati’s name for its top performance models, expands to include the Ghibli and Quattroporte, as well as the Levante.
All three nameplates now get a V-8 engine producing 580 horsepower, making the Ghibi Trofeo and Quattroporte Trofeo the fastest Maserati sedans ever built.
Top speed is 203 mph, while the Levante Trofeo’s clocks in at 187 mph; slower, but no slouch. Both sedans have a “Corsa” button that maximizes the driveline for sporty driving, as well as Launch Control.
Exterior and interior improvements
Meanwhile, Maserati’s partnership with Ermenegildo Zegna continues, with the availability of Zegna PELLETESSUTA, a woven Nappa leather fabric offered on Maserati Gransport/GranLusso, GTS and Trofeo trim levels. Typically seen on Zegna shoes, bags and other items, its use in automobiles is unique. And the Ghibli and Quattroporte sedans receive revised rear lighting, an updated grille and a larger 10.1-inch infotainment screen.
If this seems like much ado about nothing, it actually marks the beginning of a renaissance for the brand, one that will see its line-up overhauled with hybrid and electrified drivelines, along with the debut of the new 2022 MC20 hypercar come fall. Powered by Maserati’s new Nettuno V6 engine, the MC20 generates 621 horsepower and 538 pound-feet of torque and delivers 60 mph in less than 2.9 seconds. On a more practical note, look for a compact Grecale SUV to also make its debut.
Maserati’s comeback comes just as corporate parent FCA merged with PSA to form Stellantis. This, and the pandemic, have no doubt led to delays in new product launches. But their existence proves that Maserati is no longer a legendary Italian brand withering into insignificance but trying to re-establish itself as the legendary boutique Italian performance brand it always was.