At the Frankfurt Auto Show Maserati introduced the Kubang, the exotic Italian company’s foray into the world of luxury SUVs, and all but securing its role as the official car of South Beach dilettantes. But it rides on some less exotic underpinnings: the redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee — which itself shares its chassis with the Mercedes-Benz M-Class — with generous Italian restyling to justify its mixed heritage.
The Chrysler TC by Maserati this ain’t. Maserati is quick to point out despite the Ameri-Teutonic platform, everything else is pure Italian: the brakes, suspension, transmission, and performance will all be sourced from Italy. The engine will also have some esteemed provenance. Designed by ex-Ferrari engineer Paolo Martinelli, the V-8 will be built in Maranello by Ferrari. An 8-speed automatic transmission will be developed by Maserati in-house.
And if the name “Kubang” sounds familiar, it’s because Maserati used the same name on a proposed SUV back in 2003. Given the success of the Porsche Cayenne, luxury manufacturers like Maserati and Bentley are jumping on the cash-cow bandwagon in wealthy markets like Dubai, Asia, and Wall Street. If the Kubang doesn’t instantly become Maserati’s top-selling vehicle, they’ll have done something horribly, horribly wrong.
Maserati hasn’t introduced any specifics related to the Kubang, but potential buyers can rest assured that there will be as much of a difference between it and the Jeep as there is between the Mercedes-Benz M-Class and the Grand Cherokee.