Maserati is set to start production of its first-ever SUV later this year, a mid-sized model called the “Levante” which will target the likes of the Porsche Cayenne and upcoming Bentley Bentayga in the performance-oriented luxury off-roader segment. With demand for SUVs booming, you’d think Maserati would be eager to follow up its Levante with a second high-riding model, perhaps one to challenge Porsche’s new Macan.
That won’t be the case, however, due to concerns such a vehicle may compete with similar offerings from fellow Fiat Chrysler Automobiles [NYSE:FCAU] brands such as Jeep and eventually Alfa Romeo.
“We are an extremely complex multi-brand group and to have everyone doing a little bit of everything is not the right way,” Maserati CEO Harald Wester told Autocar. “We have nameplates that cover that ground, or that plan to cover that ground."
During his interview with the British publication, Wester didn’t go so far as to completely rule out launching an SUV smaller than the Levante but said he was of the opinion that this is a segment Maserati should not be competing in.
As for the Levante, we’ll be seeing the vehicle towards the end of this year or early next. A debut at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show next January has been mooted. The vehicle won’t ride on the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s platform as originally planned but will instead feature a unique design derived from the rear-wheel-drive platform found in Maserati’s Ghibli and Quattroporte sedans. It should come as no surprise then that test mules for the Levante have been hidden beneath Ghibli bodies.
Pictured above is 2013's Kubang concept car, which hints at the styling we can expect on the Levante.