We're never ones to look a gift horse in the mouth, so to speak, but it's with a healthy sprinkling of salt that we take the latest rumors out of Italy: a Maserati mid-engine coupe to rival the Porsche 911 Turbo.
The idea is fantastic, of course. Maserati's styling is mostly brilliant, its interiors mostly opulent, and its pricing mostly far better than Ferrari's. Adding in a legitimate dose of 911-esque performance might make one of the best cars available. But therein lies the rub.
Ferrari isn't likely to stand by and watch Maserati produce a car (likely powered by a Ferrari-derived engine) that will impinge on 458 Italia performance territory--as the top end of the 911 range does--for a substantial fraction of the price. Beyond that, the performance-first ethos is more Ferrari's domain than Maserati's, though of late, Ferrari has been edging toward a more balanced mix of luxury, comfort, and speed.
According to the Italian sites
that are promulgating the rumor, however, Maserati is in fact working on an all-new GranSport with a mid-engine layout, price under 150,000 euros (meaning likely under $150,000), and performance to rival the Porsche 911 Turbo and Audi R8.
That would give the Ferrari 458 Italia a little breathing room on price, but not much on performance--the current Porsche 911 Turbo is rated at 500 horsepower, 3.5 seconds to 60 mph and a top speed of 194 mph; the Italia scores 562 horsepower, 0-60 mph in about 3.3 seconds, and a top speed of 202 mph.
More interesting yet, the rumors say the mid-engine GranSport idea relies heavily on digging through Ferrari's parts bin for the engine, dual-clutch transmission, and much of the carbon fiber or aluminum chassis design.
Adding a small dose of reality to the idea, Al Volante
notes that Harald Wester, Maserati/Alfa Romeo CEO and the man credited with the idea, says it's just a proposal at this point. Will it survive scrutiny from the higher-ups at the Fiat Group? We have hope, but that may be all we have.