By on September 14, 2011

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.

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64 Comments on “Maserati Releases Luxury SUV, Fails To Develop The Time Machine Required For Such A Release To Be In Any Way Relevant Or Interesting...”


  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    Following Eterniti’s effort to spiff out Porsche Cayenne, Maserati did the same to a Grand Cherokee. Next is a Maserati TC, a rebodied Chrysler 200 convertible.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    TTAC is being a bit hard on this car maker. Maserati are merely responding to demand for such models as every company should. The fact Fiat are in bed with Jeep makes this car relatively cheap to make.

    Jaguar will I predict do exactly the same by browing a Land Rover floorpan, indeed they’ve already said that they will.

    The SUV is the car that every brand now want’s in it’s portfolio because it’s relevant in so many markets. Demand/ Profit is also the reason we don’t have that many British Sportscars anymore, which I’m sure most people would agree is a shame.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      2001 called, they want your post back. Then 1998 called me and asked for my comment back.

      Seriously though, who put a Maserati Trident on a Nissan Murano? That’s just tacky.

    • 0 avatar
      evan

      The Quattroporte was/is generally regarded as a BETTER drive than the comparable BMWs, MBs, Jags, etc – as long as you stay clear of the automanual, over-sized tires and wheels, and the sports suspension stuff, which all compromises its fluid ride.

      When EVO track tested a Quattroporte in 2005 against a M5, and a AMG spec CLS, guess which one was the fastest? Yeah, the Masserati, despite having around a 100 bhp less, and a less track oriented character. It took MB more than an extra liter of displacement plus a supercharger, wider tires, and harsher suspension to go slower.

      All of which is too say, that’s an incredibly balanced and nimble big car you’re running into the ground, Mr Baruth!

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    There’s no reason for you to have an opinion on the proposed Maser SUV. It’s really just another form of Missoni-labeled products sold at Target.

  • avatar
    LeadHead

    Yeah, the ML and JGC are identical in the sense they’re both based on the same mostly-Chrysler developed platform. Different interiors, different engines, different transmissions, different body panels, different suspensions, and different on road feel.

    Maybe my sarcasm detector wasn’t functioning properly.

  • avatar
    Jack Baruth

    Or I just didn’t make it plain enough! Yes, I was being sarcastic. Although many a reviewer has claimed to be able to detect the near-identical nature of the JGC and ML/GL, it’s never been apparent to me.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    JB: “The engine is supposedly “Maserati-developed”…” just like the Aston V-12 wears Cosworth tags, even though 99 and 44/100% of its development happened in Allen Park, MI.

    Tstag: “Demand/ Profit is also the reason we don’t have that many British Sportscars anymore, which I’m sure most people would agree is a shame.” The british invasion of cars died on the altar of low demand/ lack of adaption to changing demographics/ terrible product quality/ lack of product updates/ lack of industrial efficiency. BTW, there was some sort of a Triumph road rally in the local part of Austria last weekend … I thought of you and looked for a Stag (but failed)…

  • avatar
    The Doctor

    Surely it’s a little churlish to criticise Fiat for badge engineering with reference to the Bora when the latter contains a large amount of Citroën?

  • avatar
    detlump

    Maserati has had a string of losers for many years. I see them occasionally and wonder if they are leased or if someone decided that the depreciation was worth the image, though most people I think don’t know what it is, based on my asking them after seeing one on the road.

    The real problem is why buy this over a JGC or even ML? Maserati is an unknown brand in the US, and will you be able to go to a Jeep dealer for service? I doubt it.

  • avatar
    windswords

    Since the Chrysler TC was built by Italians in Italy, wouldn’t it be more accurate to say it was a Masterti-based Chrysler instead of a “Chrysler-based Maserati”?

  • avatar
    friedclams

    I thought the Grand Cherokee is supposed to be a good car. When I first read about this on Allpar I thought this would be the first Maserati ever that wouldn’t spend its days in a service bay.

    A friend of my brother’s owns a Quattroporte. It’s a mechanical fiasco.

    I wonder what the expense of adding the Maserati V8 and new body stampings is?

    • 0 avatar

      A friend of mine made the mistake of using a Quattroporte as a daily driver (he’s in the tv biz in LA). After a series of four figure repairs he realized that while Maserati is trying to market the Q to folks who might otherwise buy a loaded up S Klasse or 7 Series, the car cannot be driven regularly the way those M-B and BMW cars can.

      Maserati is trying to fit in that spot between the flagships from the traditional luxury makers and the $200K and up cars from Ferrari and Lamborghini.

      After Jack’s piece on the Robb Report I was thumbing through a copy of the Dupont Registry that I got for free at one of the Concours of America events. Looking at the stupid low mileage on the big buck cars for sale in the magazine, I have to conclude that a significant chunk of the exotic car market changes their cars like you and I change our socks. Seriously, if you owned a Ferrari 599 would you only drive it 2,000 miles? So it appears that to many of those who buy them, big buck cars are more of a fashion statement than an expression of admiration for automotive and engineering excellence.

      • 0 avatar
        cfclark

        >>So it appears that to many of those who buy them, big buck cars are more of a fashion statement than an expression of admiration for automotive and engineering excellence.<<

        You have encapsulated the LA high-end automotive market in a few short lines. Generally, when I see a Maserati pull up to a valet stand (these are seldom if ever owner-parked) around here, out steps an exemplar of LA douchiness for which the car is just another accessory.

        Typical brilliant Baruth, BTW.

  • avatar
    LordDetroitofLondon

    This is what an Infinity should’ve been.

  • avatar
    Lemmy-powered

    A local (Toronto) Maserati dealer has a poster up in the showroom that says “Maserati — Be Envied.”

    Be ENVIED?

    When I saw that, I thought of the Birdcage, Stirling Moss, the toy Ghibli I marvelled at as a kid … and shook my head at what has become of Maserati.

    Ah, let ‘em build their luxury SUV. It’ll be perfect for realtors who specialize in high-end condos. Maserati is already dead to me.

  • avatar
    Ethan Gaines

    Even though I know Maserati depreciation, reliability, and ergonomics will eventually leave you ass-out, I still love them. Except the Biturbo. Its an awful, hateful excuse for a sports car. But this Kubang, I’m not so sure of. I’ll wait to see how it really drives (i.e. not a beautiful star-crossed review in a greased palm auto magazine) even though Foreign Cars Italia here probably won’t stock one until a customer makes an order. But bad timing? Yes. Is there a market? Yes. Will that market buy them at retail price? No. Will rappers buy a lot of them? No. Will I see one on cheap rims sitting at Carolina Auto Collection (a ‘high-end’ buy-here-pay-here lot) three years from now? Yes!

  • avatar
    Boxerman

    Which generation ML is this based on, the chrysler 300 is based on a 2 generations ago e class.

    In any event, it is def a move downmarket for maser. Also the 4.7 is not exactly a high torque low rev unit which is what goes in a suv. i am betting on a hemi powerplant.

    It may sell as a cheapo alternative to a cayenne. Pity the design has lost the harmony of line from the original kubang concept.
    So we may end up with a restyled cherokee with lux interior. Hey it woirked for cadillac on escalade.

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      The Maser is based on the Jeep GC which was developed with the ML. The Jeep is not based off the ML, nor is the ML based off the Jeep (think twins). The 300 never was based of the E-Class from any generation. It was already well along in development when Dumbler um, “merged” with Chrysler. Dumbler insisted on using some Mercedes parts, charged too much for them, and told the press it was based on an E Class to give the new car more uh, class, but, it was an old E Class so the Mercedes snobs would not be offended that a mere Chrysler was the same car underneath as their precious “car built like no other”.

  • avatar
    dswilly

    You can blame this on the X6

  • avatar
    hachee

    I think you’re a little harsh on the current state of Maserati. Maserati was dying a long, slow death. I don’t remember when Fiat bought it, but they handed it to Ferrari and did the “smart” thing with it: focus it on the area above Mercedes and below Ferrari – sportier than the former and less sporty than the latter. And it worked. As bad (i.e., reliability, dynamically even) as they may be, there are a lot of Quattroportes and now, GT’s, running around. In theory, I always thought this was a great strategy – a real sweet spot in the market for someone wanting something unique but who doesn’t want to spend $200K. But just like everyone else (i.e., Porsche), Fiat sees a market for an expanded Maserati range, so as much as this Kubang thing seems ridiculous, I totally get it. Just like the Cayenne, and the Panamera, it will be bought by people who want a Maserati but “need” an SUV. I have no idea how they’ll price thing, but I assume way more than it should be.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    There are rocks still complaining: “Seriously? A human? In 200,011 B.C.?”

  • avatar
    mjz

    Well it sure has worked for Porsche. Weren’t they the most profitable car company on the planet? Who can blame Fiat? I’m not sold on the Kubang name though.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    When I first saw the photo, I thought: Looks like it could be the next Enclave.

    Maybe not.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I absolutely thought it was a badge engineered Buick Enclave, right down to the ventiports. My neighbor rented an Enclave for a couple weeks. One Enclave is one more than enough. If there is anything one can say for a typical CUV, it is that they have better space utilization than sedans relative to their footprints. You can’t say that about the Enclave. It looks like it was built to mine a well of unsophisticated ignorance hitherto untapped by the automakers.

    • 0 avatar

      Funny that you mention a resemblance to the Enclave. I’ve gotten to know one of the Maserati marketing guys over the years of working the NAIAS. One year when I asked him which car at the show he liked best, he started raving about the then new Enclave which is, after all, an attractive design.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The one I’ve been in happened to be here at the same time as a new BMW X3. The X3 isn’t exactly a model of packaging, but it is a significantly more efficient design than the Enclave. It seems pathetic when the X3 was spun off a compact RWD sedan and the Enclave is a minivan in drag.

  • avatar

    Yeah, the Bora, what Jack said. I still want a Khamsin mostly just to look at, horrifying Citroen plumbing notwithstanding. And I almost sorta wanted a 3200GT after seeing one run at Loudon last summer — sounded really nice — but that idea died pretty quickly after doing a little research.

    Any chance the “Maserati-developed” engine in this thing is a Hemi with red crackle finish valve covers?

  • avatar
    discoholic

    Entirely in keeping with the product range of a company that asks consumers to buy “sports cars” that are seventeen feet long, seven feet wide and weigh in excess of two tons. Expect fuel economy to be within realistic reach of 1 mpg.

    But since taste, brains, or restraint have never been a prerequisite for having what a former American politician called “f***-you money”, you can also expect scores of Russian pimps (or government-sponsored biznezmen), the peroxide bimbos in their wake, investment bankers, and Sheiks from assorted medieval countries to line up drooling.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    One seriously has to wonder about the focus group from which this moniker emerged. And one must also fervently hope that engine and fuel systems have been thoroughly safety engineered, so as to prevent any chance of a explosion…

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    Looks pretty much like the CX-7 that I had. The car was great, but I traded it after 3 years due to the fact that it could not keep its alignment and I got tired of purchasing very expensive tires. Given the Italian’s penchant for producing machines that naturally gravitate to any nearby mechanic, best of luck to those suckers purchasing one.

  • avatar

    Personally I love Maserati as a brand and would take a Quattroporte over the BMW / Merc / Audi alternatives in a heartbeat despite there many objective superior characteristics. I like the styling, the fact not every executive has one, sound of the engine. All of that is enough for me.

    Of course making this SUV just totally shits on the brand image for me in the same way that the Cayenne and Panamera does for Porsche.

  • avatar

    hahaha, “Italian SUV of the year”

    Looks like an Enclave. Shame. I like the Evoque better.

  • avatar
    jimboy

    Don’t hold back, Jack. Tell us how you REALLY feel!

  • avatar
    Japanese Buick

    You missed one prediction, Jack. It will show up as a cash for clunkers trade-in during some future iteration of that program, and car enthusiasts on the net will cluck-cluck over what is the the world coming to when a Maserati is being clunkered!

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    “Two suicides per 100 vehicles built…” lmao!

  • avatar
    JJ

    Another cynical badge clone (or let’s say bloodline contamination at least) signed off by Sergio Marchionne.

    I thought the guy was a carguy but this car and the Lancia Flavia, Voyager and Thema prove otherwise. Seems like he is in it for the short term which will undoubtedly yield him some nice stock option payouts.

    It boggles my mind that this is actually happening after GM eventually went down partly because of the contamination of all their brands with crappy or subpar products through badge engineering.

  • avatar
    ellomdian

    Say what you will, but the Quattroporte is GORGEOUS. You would have to be thick in the head to buy one after talking to a non-LA owner,or a mechanic, or your banker, or your friendly neighborhood S-class dealer, but it looks FANTASTIC inside and out. If they could figure out how to make them not cost literally tens of thousands of dollars a year for an s-class/7/A8 competitor, they would have knocked it out of the park. At least it looks good parked, or pulling slowly around the drive at the local shopping district.

    Doesn’t look so good when it’s in the air on a lift at your local Fezza dealer.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      My wife and I love the Quattroporte as well. In brown, of course, like the ones we see around town. The maintenance? Well………..

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      For the record, I was a Quattroporte intender when they ran a $1099/month program back in ’07 for DuoSelect cars. Talked to a friend who had one. He was on his third warranty transmission.

      The car had 7,200 miles on it.

      I got an Audi S5.

      • 0 avatar
        ellomdian

        One of my clients in the outer-Denver area has his 07 (Granite, god that color is pretty, with a custom wine red interior) in the garage. It has a very fine layer of dust on it last I saw – he loves the look, and can’t bear to sell it, but he refuses to drive it very much at all because of the amount of work put into it on warranty since new – and he will not buy a new one until they fix the problems. He actually bought a 430 off the lot one day he took it into the shop (again) because he didn’t want to drive the loaner Quattro for the weekend in case IT had problems as well.

        Hey Jack, you think you could get a Quattro from Maser in the same green as your S5? I would pay money to see that go around a track a few times ;)

  • avatar
    old blue

    Now,

    I have to say that was really cruel. I just can’t see why car makers should be excluded from making products for fools.

    Even now, I can put myself into a pure state of ectasy thinking of corinthian leather….

    Or recalling the brilliance that once was brylcream – or butch wax….

    mike

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Well hey, this is only about one step more cynical then what BMW sells.

  • avatar
    pgcooldad

    I would have much rather seen this design:

    http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/crain/ane_frankfurt2011_pocketguide/#/48

    Very disappointed at the one shown at the show to say the least.

  • avatar
    paul_y

    Should we take bets on how few of the engine’s components will be “Maserati-developed?” I’ve got $5 on the plastic engine cover being the only thing remotely Italian on a Mopar V8.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    It’s hilarious that people criticise brands like Masarati for ‘selling out’ like this. But time to face facts. Jag and Bentley have SUV’s in the pipeline and I really wouldn’t be shocked if Ferrari find a way to make one. Why? Demand for SUV’s is astronomical.

    So it’s funny people are so critical, because many posters probably already own an SUV….

  • avatar
    catbert430

    I had no intention of reading any posts about the Kubang because I simply have no interest in this type of vehicle, but am always interested to read a Jack Baruth article.

    Insightful, beautifully crafted, wickedly cynical, and hilarious as always.

    Thanks!

  • avatar

    Actually, the meme goes like this: “Yo dawg, we heard u liked Mazeratis, so we had a Mazerati towing a Mazerati, so you could mazerati while mazerateing…”

  • avatar
    Bruno Balestra

    Never driven and probably never will drive a Maserati. That said, I do adore the way the current ones look, smell and most importantly, sound. From the Spyder on, I love’em all.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    Talked to a friend who had one. He was on his third warranty transmission.

    The car had 7,200 miles on it.

    thats sound like 2k miles per tranny! Ouch that hurts notwithstanding whose picking up da tab.

    Your friend must not be driving her hard enuf!
    They must have made most gear parts out of plastics.

  • avatar
    Dr.Nick

    I’m sorry but the Quattroporte is one of the better looking sedans out there. Coupled with a Ferrari built or inflected V8 and how bad could it be?

  • avatar
    Dynasty

    This is not the first Buick Masarati took styling from.

    I remember in the late 80s, Buick showcased a drop dead gorgeous sedan. I forget what they called it.

    The Quattroporte looks 90% identical to the Buick concept from over 20 years ago.

    However if Buick at the time would have built it, they would have botched it. At least Maserati did the right thing and brought it to market.

  • avatar
    essen

    The new Q has the same trans as the (previous) BMW. Zero problems with it our the car in 18 months (although I have heard that the dou-selact or cambiocorsa was pretty bad). And it does attract attention from people way more than any S-Class. Every one tells me what a beautiful car I have.


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