The Alfieri concept car commemorates the Italian sportscar maker’s centennial but also looks forward to a new future
Italian car company Maserati is 100 years old this year and is celebrating its centenary in many ways, including unveiling the Alfieri, a 2+2 concept car, named in honour of the founder of the company, Alfieri Maserati.
The Alfieri is an exciting but realistic and 100% functional prototype that says much about the design DNA of future Maseratis, says the company. The Alfieri was created at the Maserati Centro Stile in Turin by a group of talented young designers.
These days Maserati is a healthy company with a booming order book for its stylish, fast grand touring cars. It hasn’t always been the case though, with the company producing a series of unloved boxy coupes and saloons in the 1980s and early 1990s. That changed when Fiat, through its Ferrari subsidiary, took over Maserati in 1997.
Alfieri Maserati, and his brothers, Ettore and Ernesto, founded Maserati in the northern Italian city of Bologona, on 1 December 1914. They all had an interest in mechanics and a love for speed. All three tried their hand behind the steering wheel of their racing cars in the golden days of motor racing, though they were better at the technical and commercial sides.
A fourth brother, Bindo, joined the company when Alfieri died in 1932. A fifth brother, Mario, is credited with designing the famed Maserati logo, taking inspiration from the Neptune fountain in the centre of Bologna.
Today Maserati is a global automotive player with a complete model range made up of two four-door saloons, two GT sports cars, four engines (a V8, a V6 Twin Turbo, a V8 NA and a Turbo Diesel), two different drivetrains (All-Wheel Drive and Rear-Wheel Drive) and an SUV due shortly.
The Quattroporte and Ghibli models in particular are transforming the Italian manufacturer into a serious player in the premium sports car segment. In just one year, from 2012 to 2013, sales increased by 150%, from 6,200 to 15,400 cars.
The Alfieri was unveiled as part of a plan to re-orientate Maserati. It’s also a reminder that the brand has a remarkable racing heritage and a tradition in exotic GT cars.
The new concept car is a sleek, Italian style 2+2 like the big hitters in Maserati’s past: 1957 3500 GT, the 1959 5000 GT and the 1969 Indy. One of the most fascinating cars of all time, the Maserati A6 GCS-53 designed by Pininfarina in 1954, proved a valuable source of inspiration for the design team.
The A6 GCS-53 was an iconic piece of automotive technology and simply breath-taking for its proportions. It had a diminutive cabin positioned almost over the rear wheels, a seemingly endless bonnet and long, sinuous wings stretching nearly to the rear wheels. “A6 GCS” stood for Alfieri 6 cylinder, Ghisa, Corsa, Sport.
The Alfieri’s long, low nose is a stylistic evolution from contemporary Maserati models.The grille is divided vertically into two concave sections that seem to float in the air. The aggressive headlights incorporate bi-xenon-LED bulbs. The same decorative element is repeated on the twin exhaust tail pipes. The tail lights are three dimensional with red external elements and white elements in the centre. 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 21in diameter rear and 20in front wheels have integrated decorative spokes reminiscent of the classic spoke wheels of the 1950s.
Colour and detail play a complementary 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.
The decorative spokes of the forged wheels, brake calipers, grille, iconic triple air ducts, rear diffuser and the provocative brow of the exhaust tail pipes are all finished in Maserati Blue. In the same blue is the Alfieri signature, replicated from an old official Maserati document and sculpted on the rear of the car, in the number plate recess. The front bumper spoiler and rear diffuser are in carbon fibre with aluminium inserts.
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 TFT screen. The instrument panel has a classic layout with two binnacle dials with two smaller ones in between. They feature TFT displays inspired by modern 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.
There is even a touch of racing spirit inside the Alfieri. The floor is finished in a material that imitates oxidised steel, a material commonly found on racing cars of the 1950s. The passenger seats, though inspired by the racing bucket seats of the ’50s, look futuristic and have a modern structure with semi-integrated headrests and an arched profile that serves as main structural element.
The three-spoke steering wheel and the deep central crown 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 Alfieri is based on the GranTurismo MC Stradale chassis with a 24 centimetre shorter wheelbase, giving it the proportions of a genuine supercar. Alfieri is 4,590mm long with a 2,700mm wheelbase, 1,930mm wide and 1,280mm high.
Under the body is the transaxle platform of the Maserati GranTurismo. This 4.7 litre, naturally aspirated, V8 engine from Maranello develops 460bhp at 7,000rpm and 520Nm at 4,750rpm. Thanks to a special exhaust layout, the V8 also produces a breath-taking sound.
A six-speed, electro-actuated gearbox 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 optimised front-rear weight distribution with a slight predominance to the rear axle.
Will the Alfieri become a showroom reality? Concept cars rarely make it into production exactly as they are shown off. According to Chief Designer Lorenzo Ramaciotti, “The Alfieri is a transition point between 100 glorious years of history and the future that is opening up before us. I cannot honestly say that we’ll see this car in production in the next two years, but I’m certain we’ll see something very similar.”