Design Analysis – 2014 Alfieri Maserati Concept

Design Analysis – 2014 Alfieri Maserati Concept

Only the short-sighted have ever underestimated Maserati.

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One man named Enzo found the Trident such a threat that he spent more than a few years trying to bury his cross-town rival in the 1960s and 1970s.

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Over Maserati’s supernaturally-blessed, but tumultuous, 100-year history so far: the Trident has adorned many far-flung concepts and racers that were each at least 20 years ahead of their time.

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In an era when Ferrari and Lamborghini were bringing key auto design functions back in-house, the wildest cards in Italy frequently found an eager audience with Maserati.

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It is that caveat we all must remember before making a real judgement call on the latest Maserati out the gates: the Alfieri concept.

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This Alfieri name is Maserati’s origin story. The original name of the first Modenese racing powerhouse? Alfieri Maserati.

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The Alfieri was quietly dropped soon into the 1920s, however, as Alfa-Romeo became a serious rival on the world’s racetracks.

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But now one big family: the Alfieri name is back in force. Confusion with affordable Alfa’s these days? Not likely.

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Especially since Alfa-Romeo’s also-glorious, also near-100-year racing history is firmly in the basement archives (for the time being).

So, like all great companies, Maserati is Windexing the motor oil and brake dust from its priceless crystal ball.

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The Alfieri shows Maserati looking deep into the future of desirable exotic cars — and finding this swoopy shape staring back through the looking glass.

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Curves might seem as desirable as an ’86 Taurus in the face of the latest Skoda VisionC concept, but there is a real artform to a car with flowing, almost surreal panels like these.

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See the Toyota FT-1 ‘Supra’ Concept for another example of this futuristic take on aero-sculpted curves.

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They are magic on the move — changing lighting effects and impact with every different shadow and angle.

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Curving surfaces, believe it or not, are also a design style that computer-aided design cannot really address without existing clay-model expertise.

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They are simply too complicated to envision in 2D form, and too difficult to make functional for aerodynamics and production panel stamps.

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What does this Alfieri bring to the table? A huge swath of new and exciting ideas for both the next GranCabrio and GT.

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On second analysis, this car seems to be a two-seater itself — but, in fact, houses a pair of small perches in back to make it a 2+2.

A cab-back style mounts these twin thrones right at the rear bulkhead, just below the fastback’s bubble glass and roof pillar curvatures.

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A super-premium flagship like this will help Maserati from losing its current status among Ferrari aspirants while also going downmarket via the Ghibli and Quattroporte.

So, is this the new Maserati GT? That car is expected next year or perhaps in 2016. Will these shapes make it to U.S. Maserati showrooms?

My hunch is: Oh yes. And No.

  • Yes: this car is coming. Look at this interior. It is nearly finished.

  • No: But not as the next GT. Likely positioned (priced) above the GranTurismo if we were betting men.

While many of Maserati’s more experimental concepts hit the financial crusher of the 1970s supercar recession — this roaring Trident must move forward to stay alive.

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With a name tracing its links to the company’s origin like the Enzo Ferrari, some high-up individuals within the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles group seem to agree.

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But: Is the Alfieri Maserati beautiful? I certainly did not think so at first glance, but am warming up to it quite a bit after reviewing it in further detail.

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I love its detailing and the design ideas behind the car, if not the car itself (quite yet.)

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My hunch is that I am not alone in first-glance revulsion: most of the press photos are tilted 20-degrees — which is (usually) a tell-tale sign that the PR folks worry a car might be… unattractive.

Editor’s Summary: In a final note, this might be the first photo we’ve seen of Sergio Marchionne smiling in … perhaps four years. Hopefully more reason to smile than bulk-purchased Zegna cashmere crew-necks this time….=]

Regardless, it is encouraging to see from this strong-minded CEO. Big challenges ahead for FCA, but strong leadership by example is always the best quality any CEO can embody.

What is Sergio saying here to Luca? Our dark imagination says…

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“Do you know some crazy auto writer @tommy_burkart tweeted me directly to say only, “RETIRE” in all caps last month?

DSC02371Sorry Mr. Marchionne.

So, why did I tweet that to this powerful executive?

Leadership by example is lacking in Auburn Hills almost completely these days, with strong-arm, goon-squad amateurs running the business with a willful disregard for stakeholders — and, more accurately it seems some times, a total lack of business acumen altogether.

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You can be sure the Maserati Alfieri GT will not be a price-cut-special, 24-month lease with an offer to pay off up to $8,500 in credit card debt just to move old metal.

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Is it just Chrysler brands? Nope. My second-most-recent Maserati dealer visit included 15 minutes of total isolation before I finally yelled, “Does Anybody Work Here?”

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Discounts do not sell exotic cars; but rather, their merits alone. Maserati clearly has no shortage of these in its racing toolbox with the new Alfieri GT — it is time to get all these greatest-hits out of storage.

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Official Details from Alfieri Maserati below.

RM Auctions Lands 1971 Maserati Ghibli Spyder for Amelia 2014

The Maserati Alfieri Concept

Design concepts

The Alfieri is being unveiled at just the right time to re-establish Maserati’s true orientation in terms of design and production.

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If the new Quattroporte and Ghibli gave the impression that Maserati was becoming oriented towards sporty, upper class four door saloons, this new concept is striking back and reminding everybody that the brand has a remarkable racing heritage and a unique tradition in exotic GT cars.

There is no doubt that the Alfieri concept represents the true essence of the Maserati brand. It is a sleek, Italian style 2+2 like the 1957 3500 GT, the 1959 5000 GT and the 1969 Indy before it, and clearly affirms Maserati’s racing DNA. Sportier in character than the GranTurismo, the Alfieri boasts proportions that might well be archetypal for a future true sport car and certainly hint at the brand’s stylistic intentions for the near future. “Maserati doesn’t change. Maserati is always Maserati”, as Ramaciotti puts it.

As with all concept cars, there is a strong desire to turn the Alfieri into reality. Though not yet at the final prototype stage like tomorrow’s grand touring, it has nevertheless been conceived, designed and created in an approach aimed at 100% realism.

According to Lorenzo Ramaciotti, “The Alfieri is a transition point between 100 glorious years of history and the future that is opening up before us. I sincerely can’t say that we’ll see this car in production in two years-time, but I’m certain we’ll see something very similar.”

The development process kicked off last summer. Designers were asked to start from a blank sheet to create a concept for Maserati’s centenary. The sketches that would lead to what is now the Alfieri emerged among various other proposals.

One of the most fascinating cars of all times, the Maserati A6 GCS-53 designed by Pininfarina in 1954, proved a valuable source of inspiration for the designers. Far more than a rare racing machine for gentlemen drivers, the A6 GCS-53 was a masterpiece of design.

It was also the last car that Pininfarina designed on a Maserati model before making a comeback in the first decade of the 21st century with the Quattroporte and the GranTurismo.

The A6 GCS-53 was an iconic piece of automotive technology and simply breathtaking for its proportions and design features: a diminutive cabin positioned almost over the rear wheels, a seemingly endless bonnet and long, sinuous wings stretching nearly to the rear wheels.

The Alfieri is obviously much more than a futuristic interpretation of the A6 GCS-53. Maserati has a diversified design history that encourages designers to look forward rather than back: “We wanted the Alfieri to test future design paths”, Ramaciotti explains. “The car is very aggressive but still sober in style, forceful but understated.”

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The acronym A6 GCS stood for Alfieri 6 cylinder, Ghisa, Corsa, Sport, epithets that well convey its long bonnet, and rear-set 2 cabin.

While the inverted A pillars of the A6 GCS-53 were not an option in the new Alfieri, their optical effect has been recreated by a sculptured line that starts from the bonnet and fades to the door high line, making the windscreen look larger.

The long, low nose is a stylistic evolution from contemporary Maserati models. The grille is divided vertically into two concave sections that seem to hang in the air. The sleek DRLs are connected by a clear accent line with the iconic “V” motif in the centre. The aggressive headlights incorporate bi-xenon-LED bulbs and are rendered distinctive by a characteristic eyebrow, repeated on the twin exhaust tail pipes.

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The three dimensional candy-cane tail lights are made up of two red external elements with a white element inside. Their shape harmoniously follows the rear shoulder of the car and complements the air ducts underneath to create an impressive, racing style rear view.

The Alfieri’s designers have developed a streamlined, uncluttered form where the only decorative elements – the restyled triple air ducts on the wheel arches – are finely integrated. This eye-catching silhouette almost entices you to caress it.

The wheels have been specially designed for the Alfieri concept. Forged from single aluminium elements, the 21” diameter rear and 20” front wheels feature integrated decorative spokes that wink at the classic spoke wheels of the 1950s.

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Though form is the dominant element, colour and detail play a key supporting role. A liquid metal colour called “Steel Flair” has been chosen for this Maserati 100th anniversary concept. This choice of finish gives the Alfieri’s elegant shape a refined, technical and contemporary look, as if a metallic veil has been draped over a naked body.

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The decorative spokes of the forged wheels, the brake calipers, the grille, the iconic triple air ducts, the rear diffuser, the provocative eyebrow of the exhaust tail pipes are all finished in Maserati Blue. The Alfieri signature, retrieved from an old Maserati document and sculpted in the number plate recess on the rear of the car is also in blue. The front bumper spoiler and rear diffuser are in carbon fibre with aluminium inserts.

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Minimalist interior

In the 2+2 seat cabin, the design team have created a study in simplicity and minimalism. The suspended dashboard is conceptually inspired by that of the Maserati 5000 GT. The dashboard boasts a clean, organic, two-tone design built around a central TUFT screen.

The instrument panel has a classic layout with two main clocks with two smaller ones in between. The edge of each is embellished with a small “Officine Maserati” label.

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Rather than analogue clocks, the instrument panel features TFT displays inspired by modern photographic camera menus in the way they indicate km/h and engine rpm. Instead of a rotating indicator, the numbers themselves rotate around the clocks. Current speed and RPM are highlighted by a magnifying glass effect.

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There is even a touch of racing brutality inside the Alfieri. The floor is finished in a material that imitates oxidised steel, a material commonly found on racing cars of the 1950s.

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Luna white and dark Basalt blue are the dominant colours inside the airy Alfieri cockpit. Poltrona Frau aniline leather with a natural look and feel covers the seats, dashboard and central console. Copper subtly highlights the most character lines and brings a retro feeling to an otherwise futuristic environment.

The interior has a classic 2+2 layout with an open space luggage compartment. The rear seat backrests have a unique, elongated design. Well visible from the outside, they add a sense of speed to the interior. The rear seats tilt forwards through 90 degrees and also serve as luggage bulkheads.

The seat profile inserts, gearbox lever and oval clock on the central console are milled from single piece aluminium billets, hand finished and anodised in a natural copper colour. All other aluminium components, including the pedals, gearbox paddles and steering wheel spokes are also hand finished and anodised in a palladium colour.

The passenger seats, though inspired by the racing bucket seats of the ’50s, look futuristic and have a modern structure with half-integrated headrests and a bridge-like profile that serves as main structural element.

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The three-spoke steering wheel and the crown deep in its centre form a three dimensional sculpture that seems to have been crafted in the workshop of an Italian artisan. Like the remainder of the Alfieri’s interior, it too is 100% handmade.

The oval clock with red-blue back plate incorporates two sub-dials and is obviously inspired by a classic chronograph.

Sporting DNA

The Alfieri is based on the GranTurismo MC Stradale chassis with a 24 centimetre shorter wheelbase, giving it the proportions of a genuine supercar. Alfieri is4,590 mm long with a 2,700 mm wheelbase, 1,930 mm wide and 1,280 mm high.

Under the sleek body lies the transaxle platform of the Maserati GranTurismo. This 4.7 litre, naturally aspirated, V8 engine from Maranello develops 460 bhp @ 7,000 rpm and 520 Nm @ 4,750 rpm and gives the Alfieri a real driving force. Thanks to a special exhaust layout, this thoroughbred V8 also produces a breathtaking sound that made a real impression in Geneva when the concept was unveiled.

A six-speed, electro-actuated gearbox (MC Shift) is mounted in a single unit with the limited slip rear differential and connected to the engine via a rigid torque tube. The transaxle layout gives the Alfieri an optimized front-rear weight distribution with a slight predominance to the rear axle.

The Alfieri’s carbon ceramic disc brakes come directly from the GranTurismo MC Stradale and are combined with blue Brembo brake calipers.

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