TURIN - Maserati has released the first official pictures of its new 2+2 coupe. The car, still without an official name, will be unveiled at the Paris auto show and go on sale in October. The name could be Mistral, a name used first by Maserati in 1964.
The new model will replace the current Ghibli, a 1994 restyling of the Biturbo coupe, first introduced in 1979.
The new car can seat two adults in the back seats. The Ghibli's back seats have room for kids only. It will be powered by a development of the 32-valve, 3.2-liter twin turbo V8 engine used on the Quattroporte. Output has been boosted from the 335hp in the Quattroporte version to 370hp.
Ferrari, which took 50 percent of Maserati shares in July 1997, wants Maserati to produce a high-performance cars with no compromises. The new car is said to have a drag coefficient just over 0.30, and to offer great stability at the top speed, expected to be around 270 kph.
Maserati has retained the traditional layout of front longitudinal engine and rear-wheel drive, combined with ABS and drive-by-wire accelerator.
The new coupe's bodywork was designed in 1994 by Giorgetto Giugiaro of Italdesign, author of the original 1966 Ghibli, the 1971 Bora and 1972 Merak.
The interior, by Enrico Fumia of Fiat Auto styling center, features wood and aluminum inserts in the central console only.
The 2+2 coupe is expected to sell for L150 million ($83,300) in Italy, compared to the L103 million ($57,200) for the most expensive Ghibli V6.
Maserati is expected to produce a short wheelbase convertible version within 18 months. Production of the coupe and the convertible is planned to reach 4,000-5,000 units a year by 2003.
Beginning in 2001, the two cars bring Maserati back to the US market. The current Quattroporte will not be sold in the US, but its successor, expected in Europe for 2001, is expected to be sold there.