Do you remember what you were doing in 1978? I bet the folks at Maserati do: they were building the final production run of the Bora, the last Maserati that anybody with any taste whatsoever genuinely wanted. A tidal wave of utter garbage followed, from the Biturbo flambé and its many bizarre successors to the current Quattroporte and GranSport which rely on $999/month leases and puff-pieces from deeply unethical individuals to move the metal. The company’s mistakes, mis-steps, and misfires have rendered it almost beyond the Pale of critical appraisal; evaluating Maserati or its products honestly soon takes on a strong whiff of maliciously stomping a dying insect.
Yet let me flap this bug with gilded wings: it appears that Maserati has finally decided to inflict a sport-utility vehicle on the world at large. Presumably this was because doing a Maserati “Pet Rock” was seen as being insufficiently gauche, and plans for the company to participate in “Hands Across America” fell through due to lack of organizational capability. Seriously. A luxury SUV? In 2011?
The “Kubang”, named after a Cyndi Lauper song, will be a relative to the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Every basement-dwelling forum monkey in America knows the JGC is pretty much identical to the Mercedes ML, so look for future reviews of the Kubang to chew up the first few paragraphs discussing those two vehicles. The engine is supposedly “Maserati-developed”. While one might hope that this presages the return of the Biturbo’s pressurized-carburetor 2.0 V6, the smart money is on the 4.7L V8 found in the latest GranSport and Quattroporte. (A brief note: The phase “The smart money is on the 4.7L V8 found in the latest GranSport and Quattroporte” is is no way meant to imply that anyone with “smart money” would purchase such a vehicle, or the engine thereof.) Rumors have also been floated that the Kubang will be made in the United States, following the practice of Mercedes and BMW. Imported from Detroit, yo! This could be the best Chrysler-based Maserati since the TC. It could also be the worst Chrysler-based Maserati since the TC. It could be worse than the TC, come to think of it.
Although Maserati doesn’t possess the time machine required to make the introduction of a luxury SUV anything other than an exercise in bad taste, nouveau riche pandering, and tone-deafness to the state of international affairs, I have managed to obtain such a device from my local garden-equipment-rental shop, and I have therefore managed to look into the future and see how this whole Kubang thing will go.
- The Kubang will be introduced at some ridiculous cash price.
- The Robb Report will name it “Italian SUV of the Year”.
- AutoPacific will name it “Most Appealing Italian SUV.”
- JD Power will name it “Most APEALing Italian SUV”, shortly after noting that it averages 518 problems, and two suicides, per 100 vehicles built.
- MotorTrend will acquire one for a “long-term test” and put it on the cover with the blurb “KUBANG BANGS THE MARKET!”
- The dealers will start to bitch that the Kubangs are filling up their excess-inventory lots.
- The usual $999/month Maserati lease will appear. Although the lease terms will include a $17,000 cap cost reduction, most dealers will happily waive it just to get the junk off the lot and start making the warranty-service money.
- Five-year-old Kubangs will be sold at buy-here-pay-here lots for $800 down and $75 a week.
- Some enterprising fellow will use one to tow a Maserati Quattroporte LeMons racer. Jalopnik will title the article “THIS IS THE MASERATI THAT TOWED A MASERATI SOMEWHERE”.
The Kubang! Look for it at a repo auction near you.