Expectation Management

Patience is a virtue. Well, sometimes…

Image: supercars.net

Over the past two and half years or so, we have all experienced a harsh, if valuable lesson in the music of chance, in how unforeseen events can derail all best-laid plans and forecasts. Viewing matters though this chaotic prism, Maserati’s more or less decade-long deliberation over the future of its heartland GranTurismo offering appears almost wilfully indulgent.

However, one should also consider the sheer scale of change that has arisen over this intervening period, where the already somewhat unwieldy Fiat Chrysler Automobiles super-merged into the perplexing singularity that is the Stellantis group and perhaps allow ourselves some quantum of critical latitude.

Ah, Maserati. Over this extended interregnum, the fabled carmaker has burned through several CEOs, large quantities of cash, a store of goodwill – to say nothing of credibility – and several product plans.

As long ago as the 2014 Geneva motor show, Maserati debuted the Alfieri concept, said by their spokespeople at the time to preview their forthcoming GT. By then, Maserati’s incumbent model, the soulful GranTurismo was already seven years on the market, so a putative replacement seemed timely. As the covers were lifted, the massed congregation of grizzled auto journalists and commentators wept as one over its voluptuous lines, courtesy of Centro Stile, under Lorenzo Ramaciotti’s purview. And comely it most certainly certainly was, with its archetypical long bonnet, short rump, superbly judged proportions and classic GT silhouette.

The word from Maserati (and FCA) bosses at the time was that a production version of Alfieri would see the light of day circa-2016, but it surprised no one when that date slipped repeatedly, owing to any number of unexpected events, which would include the failure of Maserati’s over-ambitious expansion plans, not to mention the reversal in fortunes of the parent company. As the credibility gap widened, the increasingly infirm GranTurismo was repeatedly propped up in the marketplace, serially defaced by the by inevitable Fiat Charter® attempts at maintaining stylistic relevance, before finally limping into well-deserved retirement in 2019.

By then, with a new Stellantis management team in place and a far more realistic set of targets to fulfil, development of a new-generation GranTurismo could get under way. However, as it progressed, and prototypes began to appear in the lenses of the paparazzi, it became apparent that the silhouette looked eerily familiar. Somewhere along the way, the Alfieri design was abandoned[1] and a wholly evolutionary shape, based squarely upon the outgoing car was chosen.

Of course, Maserati and its Stellantis parent will have done its homework; it is entirely likely that an iterative style cliniced better than the more romantic Alfieri fastback shape. We should also remember that GTs like this are rapidly falling out of favour, as the well heeled, along with everyone else transition wholesale towards higher-riding vehicles; Maserati, like everyone else now prioritising their crossover offerings[2].

2023 Maserati GranTurismo. Image (c) Maserati.com

Indeed, the logic of building a GranTurismo model in the current climate seems somewhat skewed, but events make fools of us all. It is likely therefore, that its place in the product plan will be that of a bit-player. One expects it will be the last of its kind to bear the Tridente of Bologna.

Either way, according to Maserati, the new GranTurismo, which for all the world looks like a reskin of the old stager will make its official debut later this year, with deliveries beginning in 2023. Mind you, given how matters have evolved since 2014, one really should not get too excited.

Fortunately, centro stile appear to have that one covered.

[1] We should probably not weep too effusively for the Alfieri. Given the mystifyingly disappointing production Maserati designs that emerged from Ramaciotti’s studio over the previous decade, it’s probable that we would be mourning a different kind of missed opportunity now.

[2] It’s clear that the recently announced Grecale crossover was priority number one for il Tridente.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

15 thoughts on “Expectation Management”

  1. Re-heated leftovers.

    Frank Stephenson meeting his hero at the maestro’s atelier: “I am supposed to tell you that I hate the boomerang tail lights and we need to change them”.

    A Graziano Cambiocorsa F1 style automated manual hangs out back while a suave ZF automatic enters from the front.

    Scavenging F-Type headlamps from a rubbish bin.

    Reanimating a corpse.

    A clinic absent a beating heart.

    A black jumper.

  2. Oh dear, poor old Maserati. Of all the multitude of conflicting priorities faced by Stellantis senior management in trying to sort out the jumble of marques it controls, Maserati must rate pretty low on the list, and a GT coupé with potential annual sales measured in the hundreds should be bottom of Maserati’s own priorities. The only real surprise is that it is to be replaced at all, even belatedly.

    Speaking of GT coupés on the danger of extinction list, I spotted an example of the facelifted Jaguar F-Type on Friday. This was the first one I have seen on the road, almost three years after it was introduced. This prompted me to take a look at the models recent sales, which totalled around 4,500 in the US and Europe combined in 2021.

  3. Not sure which is worse, the butch brand-new design or what looks like a butched-up (butchered?) old one. The GT was always going to be a hard act to follow.

    1. What exactly could have torpedoed the Alfieri? I suppose it could be lack of rear seat space.


      Maserati claims the MC20 is “the first super sports car of the Trident Brand.” What?! No, really.

      Worst ever brand management. Stellantis don’t deserve to have it.

  4. Even more backwards is that the new GranTurismo will be all EV before the rest of their lineup gets any EVs at all; shouldn’t you be electrifying your bread-and-butter lineup and leaving the ICE offerings as low-volume halo models? What market is there for an electric grand tourer anyway when historically the whole point of a GT was to be able to cover 500+ miles, fill up, and continue across the continent?

    Anyway, I personally don’t prefer this ‘headlights stretched over the fender’ styling approach that Maserati has taken with the Grecale and now this GranTurismo. It might have worked well on the F-Type, but now that the new Puma has done it (others rate the Ford highly, I find it a bit lumpy and misshapen), for Maserati to follow suit kind of cheapens the brand, not that they haven’t already done that with the ill-advised Ghibli and Quattroporte VI. The previous GranTurismo was a purposeful looking thing and I’d wager to say a rather convincing Maserati despite not being the prettiest car ever:

  5. For once, I need to go against the DTW grain.

    First of all, I’m convinced that the gt market is underserved to an even higher degree than it is shrinking. My own – highly non-scientific – research in the traditional markets of Hamburg Harvestehude & Beverly Hills, CA suggests that the sector is basically owned by Bentley today, owing to the current Continental range’s qualities as much as to the weakness/absence of competition.

    The SL had degenerated into a pale shadow of itself, before recently being reinvented as a sports car, whereas the Jaguar XK left without a successor in place or sight, while the Aston DB11 has lost most of its flair and gained much girth, but neither additional practicality nor reliability. The Flying B has been having it ridiculously easy in recent years.

    In other words: While hardly huge, the gt market presents plenty of high profit margin potential to a player able to offer a balanced combination of style, usability and reliability. On paper, the new Maserati might be able to do just that, also taking into account the esteem in which MC-20 is held by those who know a thing or two about fine driving machines.

    Styling-wise, I’m not getting terribly excited by the new model, but find little about it offensive. Yes, the most recent Maseratis have all been highly conservatively designed vehicles, but after the misbegotten output of the Ramaciotti/Tencone years, I’d argue that’s more of a step in the right direction than a grave shortcoming.

    I shall be welcoming the GranTurismo’s return to our SUV-littered streets.

    1. Christopher: Well argued. I will not take issue with most of your points. However…

      While I concur that there is little to offend in the new GranTurismo’s style, not only it is barely iterative, its designers appear to have made no effort to evolve or improve upon its admittedly flawed (if charismatic) Pininfarina-drawn predecessor.

      My concern is that Maserati management are in the process of making a similar error of creative judgement as that made by Ralph Speth et al at Gaydon – believing that caution in stylistic evolution was vital to building customer recognition, ergo loyalty. This premise can work, but only if your design grounding is rock solid. Regrettably, in Jaguar’s and in this instance, Maserati’s case, this is not so.

      Much like Jaguar, Maserati lives or dies on a purely emotional appeal. Elegance is not enough. They both (in their own ways) need to seduce, to bewitch. Otherwise, why put up with the inevitable in-use foibles?

      The 2023 GT looks competently executed and as cover versions go, is probably note perfect. But it looks like the 15-year old design it for all intents and purposes is. Whether that is what either Maserati or the market needs or wants remains unclear, but strikes me as both risky and wrong.

      Like you, I’m pleased they’re still making cars like this. I just wish it exhibited a little more élan.

    2. Fair point, Eòin.

      You might have caught me about to make exactly the same mistake as a decade ago, when I gave Callum et al the benefit of the doubt, on the basis of my utter disenchantment with what had come before.

      As you yourself are so prone to saying: history has a way of repeating itself.

    3. If I were a customer for a GT (which, unfortunately, I am not), a Maserati would be the only choice for me. Ferrari is a no-go (don’t ask), AM is now an AMG with a (sadly non-British) rich-boy shell, I was never a Bimmer guy either (do they still build that 8-series battleship?), Jaguar has nothing in its range to make the neighbour bite the edge of his table. So the only GT left is Maserati, no matter what it looks like.

      (But unfortunately I don’t have the money for a GT in this price range. I’d like to say I have no use for a GT, but in reality my wallet prevents me. What did I want to say? Ah yes, Maserati GT. Ah, never mind…)

      I’m already looking forward to seeing a Maserati GT again. If I see one, it will be a good day, even if it’s raining or snowing….

  6. I wonder how the Maserati stacks up against the Ferrari Purosangue. I think Ferrari have been quite clever with that, in that it’s an SUV, but quite a sleek one. I think Ferrari closed the waiting list at one point, so it’s proving popular.

    1. It’ll be interesting to see how Purosangue works out in the long run.

      Part of the Ferrari magic (and hence business model) was to dictate customers what they want and then tease them by making what they decreed they want so very hard to obtain. Nowadays, with all those limited editions and an SUV, Ferrari reacts to customer demand in straightforward fashion.

  7. In general the Maserati brothers tried to build cars which were light (for their time and for their class). After the Maseratis departed the cars got larger and heavier and more luxurious- heavier still over more recent times. The Maseratis formed OSCA where they had a free hand to do as they preferred- lighter and smaller.

    Perhaps the best approach would be to turn to extreme lightweighting. Lose as many of the lbs as possible. Go on a real diet and lose the fatness and excess size as well. Don’t forget, a 3200lb car with 400bhp was considered quite fast on the street (and for the vast majority of people it still would be). A 1600lb car with 200bhp would be just as quick (probably faster point to point). It doesn’t need a turbocharger. It could run multi-cylinders for THAT special exotic sound and it would be a far better deal on fuel consumption than anything presently available in the class. Aim at a design which avoids exotic materials (don’t bother with a c-fibre tub and all that) but is small, light, economic to manufacture but stylish and cleverly engineered enough to do justice to the glamour of the name while retaining serious performance* and reasonable utility. They’d not even need to develop most of the components- all are on the shelf waiting**.

    *If you have experience with sports bikes with 600cc or more you’ll have enjoyed performance that exceeds that of all but the most hard core super cars or muscle cars. Point to point these things are unbeatable and they are so cheap in comparison to a performance car. They work like this because they are light.

    **A while back I had a go in a car which had an eight cylinder engine of some 2.4 litres capacity. The engine was essentially a pair of bike engines on a common crank. It could rev to Japan. Lovely sound, endless rpm to the stratosphere (12k in a road car is pretty good) and reliable with it. What fun. It wasn’t an expensive proposition either. Don’t forget that Ferrari started out with a 1500cc Columbo V-12.

  8. As the general feeling of insecurity rises in Society, so does the vehicles height and girth.

    It all started, I guess, on 9/11. It really ended the post-ww2 sense of previsabity (does this word exist?).
    Things stoped making sence: terrorism against civilians was born, banks fell all around the global and proved as reliable as a maserati biturbo, covid 19 turned our lifes upside, russia invaded ukraine and a new economic crisis is anounced.

    So, our inner self tells us to protect ourselves, to ride high among many other social behaviours.

    The GT as no chance.
    It was born in a hopeful time, the 60’s.
    People now cross the continent in a cayenne, if needed.

    I am a stuborn human being who refuses to go with the flow.

    And I am prone to useless personal statements.

    So my daily driver is a smart roadster coupe and god bless me if I ever crash onto a SUV

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