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Maserati almost built an MPV with sliding doors 20 years ago

The Buran concept appeared at the Geneva motor show in 2000

  • What is this strange looking thing?

    This is the Maserati Buran concept car, which was revealed at the 2000 Geneva motor show. The Geneva show was an event where lots of people would gather in one place to see new cars – before the internet was invented and folks leaked the pictures so you didn’t have to bother going.

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  • Well, at least it isn’t an SUV…

    Wouldn’t that be an interesting game of Not Trumps. What’s worse – a Maserati SUV or a Maserati MPV? Clearly the latter, as the SUVs have gone into production. Still, the idea was sound – the Italians were trying to see if anyone was interested in a fusion of saloon and MPV, a taller limo with a more compact footprint but just as much interior passenger space. And a lot less prestige too, presumably. 

  • Wait, is that a sliding door?

    Who would have thought that a Maserati could have come with a set of sliding doors, even in concept form? The Buran could have been the chauffeur car of choice for mid-level Italian executives and junior politicians. Just to make sure that you remembered this was a Maserati MPV, the Buran was designed with a strangely unhelpful bootlid that just lifted out of the way of the boot hole. No opening hatch, just a sort of vertically mounted saloon hatch thing, like it was the side of a coach.

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  • What was it like inside?

    The Buran concept was absolutely festooned in brown suede and rammed with gloss black inserts about the place. It had the air of the inside of a particularly expensive Italian loafer. There was a smattering of cabin storage, a dash-mounted stick for the six-speed auto box (all the rage in MPVs of the time) and loads of legroom in the back, accessed by that electronic sliding door. 

  • Who designed the Maserati Buran?

    The Buran was knocked together for Maserati by the grandmaster himself, Giorgetto Giugiaro and the team at Italdesign in Italy. The car was bigger than it looked in pictures, at nearly 5m in length. It was 1.63m tall and 1.95m wide, with plenty of space inside. The wheels were a particularly nice touch, although in retrospect perhaps they weren’t supposed to look like an octopus on a plate. 

  • What was under the bonnet?

    Perhaps the most fun part of the Buran was its engine – the 3217cc twin-turbo V8 from the 3200 GT coupe producing 365bhp featuring permanent four-wheel drive. The donor car managed the 0–62mph run in 5.1secs, and the Buran would have done it in… slower. Whatever else you might think about the prospect of a Maserati MPV though, it would have been the best handling Milan airport taxi with an engine noise to die for. 

  • Why didn’t the Maserati Buran concept go into production?

    Unless you reworked the term ‘MPV’ to mean Maserati performance vehicle, it really doesn’t have any business sitting on anything bearing the trident logo, does it? It would be like an Aston Martin city car, or a Lotus SUV.

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  • Can I buy a Buran?

    Well, you can’t actually buy a Buran, but you can buy the car that Giorgetto Giugiaro subsequently penned while using it as inspiration… the Fiat Croma. Bad luck. Not quite a Maserati now, is it. Fiat tried to pretend it was just a tall saloon, because no one really wanted an MPV even by 2005, and it didn’t even have any sliding doors. At least intentionally. There’s always the Renault Avantime…

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