With the weight of fuel economy and emissions regulations bearing down on the luxury and performance car market, companies like Maserati are seeking ways to preserve performance while greening up their act. The next-generation Quattroporte may be among the first of the Fiat Group's luxury vehicles to take the new route, and stop-start technology will help pave the way.

Stop-start is nothing new, really--many cars in Europe already feature such systems, which shut the car off when at a stop and start it back up when the driver resumes progress, cutting emissions and fuel use when the engine would otherwise be idling. When combined with powerful (and often thirsty) engines, the savings can be huge.

Of course, engine downsizing is also potentially part of the plan, reports Automotive News, with V-6 and smaller V-8 engines cued up to drop under the hood of the next Quattroporte. Paired with a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic, the powertrain would bring Maserati into full parity with other luxury marques like BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz. Except, that is, for the addition of all-wheel drive. But that's on the docket, too.

Adding all-wheel drive to the Quattroporte would help the brand compete with the Germans, though it works against emissions and fuel economy goals. The extra weight and parasitic drivetrain losses from all-wheel drive are well-known. But for all-weather stability and on-paper comparisons, it may be a must-have feature.

Just last week our spy photographers spotted a modified Maserati GranTurismo testing what appear to be high-performance upgrades, however, so the future won't necessarily be gutlessly green at the trident brand. We expect high-performance versions of the Quattroporte like the S and GT S to carry forward to the next generation as well, though they may get some of the eco-treatment as well.

We'll likely have to wait until late next year at the least to see what Maserati has planned for the next Quattroporte, though we'll have our spies focusing their lenses to catch a glimpse before the official announcement comes. Stay tuned.

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