At the 2016 Paris Motor Show, Maserati’s Giulio Pastore reflects on the most innovative period in the marque’s history, the challenges of bringing a sports car to the luxury SUV market and why we’re moving towards an SUV world.
For Giulio Pastore, the general manager of Maserati Europe, 2016 must feel like a blur. “If you think about our history — 102 years of history — in the last three years we have done something that has never been done in our past and which no other brand has done,” he says.
In that time Maserati has launched a new flagship Quattroporte, a new V6 engine, a new diesel engine, a four-wheel drive system, the compact Ghibli sports sedan and, last but not least, the Levante, the company’s first SUV. It is this car that is going to bring Maserati to new customers and new countries and build its already storied brand.
“It’s doing very well,” says Pastore of the SUV, early sales of which are moving the company towards projected record sales of 40,000 cars. “This year will be a record, and next year will be a record and 2018 will be a record,” he explains because every year “We must do a record.”
The Levante is a ‘conquest’ car in that it will be bought by people that would otherwise be going to another company, and so far the majority of sales have been conquests.
“Always when you develop a product like the Levante, especially for Europe, there is a strong focus on the [Porsche] Cayenne. And we are satisfied because in some countries in September, the Levante has sold better than the Cayenne — especially in our domestic market, Italy,” he proclaims.
Yet, for Maserati purists, who remember the marque’s racing dominance, and its glorious supercars of the 1960s and 70s, seeing the that Trident badge on the grille of an SUV must be difficult as must be building an ‘off roader’ that’s still a Maserati at heart.
“Our DNA is the sprotscar. What’s important for us is the dynamic of the car,” explains Pastore. Therefore the initial Levante design was a sportscar that was built upwards to offer the space and well-being expected from a high-sided vehicle but alongside performance levels that aren’t. The result is a Maserati for all the family.
“The Ghibli for example is a more individualistic car, but the Levante is open to everyone. The SUV is useful for all the family — taking the children to school, going to the gym, activities, etc,” he says by way of illustration. The launch of the Levante also means that there are more female Maserati drivers than ever before because it’s a car that meets typically male emotional demands but also meets practical needs.
However, this new SUV doesn’t mean that the company is changing its focus. “The Quattroporte is always our flagship,” Pastore states. “It [always] starts with that car.”
And as for a new seriously sporty GT car based on the company’s Alfieri centenary concept? “You will have all the information the next time we sit down to an interview,” he responds, suggesting that the new car could be coming to the 2018 Paris motor show.