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Maserati is firming up its plans to build a
car to take on the Jaguar F-type. That’s to say a fast, front-engined two
seater. It’s quite a bit smaller than the current GranTurismo and GranCabrio.

Our information is that the new Maserati will
be 4.5 metres long, which is almost exactly the size of an F-type. Which fits with
what Maserati’s boss Harald Wester (above) told me earlier in the year: “We need a
smaller sports car. The four-seat GranCabrio is in a segment where even the
biggest-selling competitor sells just 2000 a year maximum.” A smaller open
car would sell in bigger numbers.

So instead of being twinned with the next-gen
GranTurismo four-seater, the next GranCabrio will be a convertible version of a
smaller coupe. That new compact coupe will be called Gran Sport.

Or at least that’s the name Maserati used
when it revealed the plan to stock market investors. It showed a slide with
three sports cars to be launched after 2015: GranTurismo, GranCabrio and
Gran Sport. It showed their approximate prices in Euro, but in sterling they run
from £80,000 to £130,000.

Their on-sale dates aren’t until 2015 and
onward, because Maserati has first to finish its ambitious plan to roll out the
new Quattroporte, then its Jag XF-sized new Ghibli saloon, and
then in 2014 its sports-SUV called Levante.

So what do we know about this new Gran Sport,
surely the most lithe and sporty Maserati since, what, the Merak and Bora?
Well, it’s front-engined, and will major on the company’s rather exciting new
400bhp twin-turbo V6. That engine pushes the huge Quattroporte along with
decent vim, so imagine what it’ll do with a compact sports car.

We also know Maserati will use a lot of
aluminium to lighten the basic steel body. The aluminium suspension will
be derived from the Quattroportes and Ghiblis, too, but obviously the floorpan
is shortened.

There will be none of the rear-mounted
single-clutch paddleshift gearbox that the current GranTurismo uses. Instead, a
senior engineer nodded to us, the Gran Sport car will use a front-mounted
twin-clutch. That solution is chosen because it’s lighter than a normal auto,
and gives a sharper and more connected drive.

There’s also the potential to pluck stuff
from the QP menu: they could install the 500bhp twin-turbo V8, and optionally
four-wheel-drive too – though the engineers haven’t mentioned these to me yet
so please treat this sentence as informed speculation.

Meanwhile the GranTurismo coupe will be
replaced more-or-less like for like, as a four-seater, because that segment is
fairly large and Maserati doesn’t want to abandon it.

There’s been a lot of rumour washing around
that Maserati will build its own version of the Alfa 4C. Maybe so,
although recently we’ve heard high-level denials. Whatever, that 4C spin-off
isn’t the Gran Sport. The Gran Sport is the front-engined machine we’ve been
describing above. And the Gran Sport is very probably also the car Maserati wants
to use take itself back to the racetrack.

Wester told me, “The MC12 dominated GT1 racing
for several years, including the first FIA world championship in 2010. Then the
regulations became a mess. Now the FIA is redefining them. I would love to come
back in a few years.” But we have been officially told there won’t be a
Maserati version of the LaFerrari (the MC12 was derived from the Enzo) so the
job falls to the Gran Sport.

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