16.05.2004 The next generation Maserati Spyder, with its Mercedes SL-style folding hardtop, is caught testing in these spy shots, as it heads towards a Geneva 2006 debut

The next generation Maserati Spyder is caught testing at the Nurburgring in these spy shots, as it builds towards a Geneva 2006 debut.

The new model, based on the Quattroporte's LM139 platform, will draw its styling cues from the super-luxury saloon which was launched in Frankfurt last autumn. In general the newcomer will translate the Quattroporte's elegant lines closely, however creases on the bonnet will be more aggressive and will flow from a lower and wider trademark grille.

In order to clearly underline the car's sporting potential, the haunches above the rear wings will be more voluptuous. Optical units and other parts will be similar to those of the saloon.

Immediately recognisable is the new folding-hardtop roof the the new Spyder will incorporate as it joins the Mercedes SL and Lexus CS430 in offering this technological approach.

The spy shots show an interesting and novel advance in packaging the roof when it is folded away, as a boot of conventional width is in place.

The new Coupe and Spyder have been designed by Pininfarina, under the overall responsibility of Ferrari and Maserati's head of design Frank Stephenson. The project went back to the drawing board last year when the proposed 'evolutionary' designs were rejected as being too conservative.

Power for the new Coupe and Spyder will come from the present model's 4244cc V8 engine which has been bored out to 5.0-litres and will feature revised cylinder heads, induction system and electronics.

As rivalry increases between the sportscar manufacturers, power from the new unit will be boosted up to 470bhp, an increase of 80bhp. The present Spyder is already no slouch, hitting a top speed of 285km/h while completing the 0-100km/h dash in 4.9 seconds.

With the new 2+2 Coupe and two seat Spyder targeted to spearhead Maserati's aim, now under the guiding hand of former Ford Europe CEO Martin Leach, of breaking through the 10,000 units per year barrier, they are working particularly hard to get this model absolutely right.

In the meantime, the current models will undergo a final facelift next year as they seek to arrest a recent slowing down of sales.

Maserati Spyder prototype testing
Maserati Spyder prototype testing
Maserati Spyder prototype testing
Maserati Spyder prototype testing