By the time the production Kubang goes on sale, in 2013, it will likely be more than a decade since a concept of the same name first appeared at the 2003 Detroit auto show. And, as we view pictures from that concept's appearance next to those of the new, production Kubang, it's as if we're viewing the second generation of an SUV—for which the first was never built. The new Kubang looks contemporary and sexy—and we can see a clear evolution in the bodywork and proportions—though it is clearly an evolution of the idea.
When Maserati first rolled out its Kubang concept—named after a warm Javan wind—at the January 2003 Detroit Auto Show, it was very hot on the heels of the Porsche Cayenne. At that time, Maserati had planned to utilize the Audi Q7's platform—along with its more road-oriented quattro all-wheel-drive system. But in 2005—already after rumors that the project had been canceled in favor of focusing on its then-new Quattroporte, as well as the GranTurismo's predecessor, the Spider and Coupe—Maser moved under the Fiat Auto umbrella, which seemed permanently break any VW/Audi platform-sharing plans and put the Kubang in mothballs.
The decision was surprising, at a time when luxury SUVs were selling like gangbusters. A senior Maserati executive as soon as 2003 told The Car Connection that it was "leaning" towards a production version of the Kubang. Maserati had made a partnership with Audi and had been at work on a production version of the Kubang—featuring an Audi quattro-derived all-wheel drive system—shortly after that first appearance. The original specs were pretty impressive: 0-62 mph in 5.5 seconds, top speed more than 160 mph. But ultimately, the lack of a platform probably sealed its fate.
The market for $100,000+ luxury SUVs isn't growing nearly as rapidly as it was back then, but we have a feeling the Kubang will do well. Top-notch engineering resources were lent from Jeep—and its expertise with the blistering Grand Cherokee SRT8—while Maserati has said that all major components of the Kubang will be "unmistakably Maserati."
See these pictures of the new Kubang, direct from the floor of the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show, below, then see our preview of the Kubang for more information. And stay tuned for further powertrain and mechanical details.