22.05.2004 Maserati are currently developing the next Coupe alongside a retractable roofed Spyder, we take an exclusive look at the Quattroporte styling influenced model

Click here to enlargeMaserati are currently developing a direct successor for their Coupe model, alongside their stunning new two-seater Spyder with retractable hardtop.

Initially planned for a launch in early 2005, the two new models started life as proposals by Italdesign-Guigiaro

However, the arrival of Frank Stephenson at Ferrari-Maserati Group in July 2002, led the prestige automaker to reconsider and eventually reject the initial Italdesign proposals. 

At that stage, the styling was reportedly too conservative and similar to that of the current Coupe and Spyder. Nor did the styling tie in with the brand’s future identity, spearheaded by the recently launched Quattroporte, which at the time of the Coupe / Spyder rethink, was nearing completion in the development stage.

Pininfarina were garnishing the lavish Quattroporte with finishing touches, when they were called upon to take over the new Coupe / Spyder design program under the leadership of Ferrari-Maserati in-house designer Frank Stephenson. This decision ultimately delayed the project by approximately 18 months, yet clearly demonstrated Maserati’s will to create a no-compromise product. 

Now under the guiding hand of former Ford Europe CEO Martin Leach, Maserati are aiming to break through the 10,000 units per year barrier. In order to do so, they are working particularly hard to get the new Coupe and Spyder models absolutely right.

With a planned debut at the 2006 Geneva Motor Show, the new Coupe and Spyder are to be regarded as derivatives of each other. Their styling will be similar to that of the well-received Quattroporte super-luxury saloon, which was recently awarded with the prestigious “red dot: best of the best” design award.

The bodywork and fittings on the two new sports cars will mainly be shared, apart from the a-post / rear wings, roof, rear glass-house and possibly the boot lid panel. Logically, the ‘sharing’ strategy will be continued in the sumptuous interior, which is also expected to be similar in style to that of the extravagant Quattroporte.

The major distinction between the new Coupe and Spyder, other than the fixed and retractable hardtop roof styles, will focus on the seating arrangements. Whereas the Spyder will be a strict two-seater, the new Coupe will provide an ample 2+2 seating arrangement.

With the increase in length over the current Coupe and Spyder models, Maserati and Pininfarina’s engineers have been able to package the Spyder’s folding hardtop neatly behind the seats. This novel arrangement will provide an uncompromised amount of boot space on the drop-top model, with an unchanged boot capacity whether the roof is up or down.

The newcomers’ longer wheelbase will also result in a roomier interior on the 2+2 Coupe model for rear passengers. By utilizing a shortened version of the LM139 Quattroporte platform, the twin rear seats have been truly designated for average-sized adults to travel in utmost comfort. The new Coupe will therefore be a true 2+2 ‘Gran Turismo’.

The Coupe will be powered by a longitudinally-mounted 5.0 litre V8 engine with a rear transaxle setup. The engine, a bored-out version of the current 4244cc unit, will be fitted with revised cylinder heads, induction system and electronics, resulting in an estimated power output of around 470bhp. The hike in power (about 80bhp over the current model) will compensate for the models’ weight increase. On the Spyder this weight increase is likely to be considerable due to the folding roof system.

While the Coupe will only be available the new 5.0-litre V8, the Spyder will in addition offer the current 4.2-litre as an 'entry-level' version. The new Coupe will be known as the Maserati 5000GT but the new Spyder will retain its existing name.

Meanwhile the LM139 platform’s double wishbone suspension with adaptive damping has been modified to produce sportier characteristics.

In order to lengthen the lifespan of the current Coupe and Spyder models, Maserati are planning to launch major sheet-steel facelifts and specification changes at this September’s Paris Motor Show. 

It is believed that the facelifts will provide the current models with a closer link to the recent Quattroporte and their upcoming successors. The facelifted models will also make use of the Quattroporte’s transmission software, which is planned to coincide with the luxury saloon’s stateside launch.