Maserati unveiled the Alfieri, a 2+2 concept car to celebrate the brand's centenary at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show. The Alfieri is an exciting but realistic and 100% functional prototype that says much about the design DNA of future Maseratis; it could well be a door to the future of the Trident Marque.
The striking new concept bears the name of Alfieri, the most prominent of the Maserati brothers and the engineering genius who founded "Officine Alfieri Maserati" in Bologna a century ago. The Alfieri was created at the Maserati Centro Stile in Turin by a group of talented young designers, under the direction of Marco Tencone overseen by Lorenzo Ramaciotti.
The Alfieri is being unveiled at just the right time to re-establish Maserati's orientation in terms of design and production. If the new Quattroporte and Ghibli gave the impression that Maserati was becoming oriented towards sporty, premium four door saloons, the Alfieri concept is a reminder that the brand has a remarkable racing heritage and a unique tradition in exotic GT cars.
There is no doubt that the Alfieri concept represents the true essence of the Maserati brand. It is a sleek, Italian style 2+2 like the 1957 3500 GT, the 1959 5000 GT and the 1969 Indy before it, and clearly affirms Maserati's racing DNA. Sportier in character than the GranTurismo, the Alfieri boasts proportions that might well be archetypal for a future Gran Sport and are certainly a hint at the brand's stylistic intentions for the near future. "Maserati doesn't change. Maserati is always Maserati", as Ramaciotti says.
As with all concept cars, there is a strong desire to turn the Alfieri into reality. It was conceived, designed and created in an approach aimed at 100% realism.
According to Lorenzo Ramaciotti, "The Alfieri is a transition point between 100 glorious years of history and the future that is opening up before us. I can't 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."
The development process kicked off last summer When the designers were asked to start from a blank sheet to create a concept for Maserati's centenary. Among various proposals, the sketches that would lead to what is now the Alfieri emerged.
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 designers. Far more than a rare racing machine for gentlemen drivers, the A6 GCS-53 was a masterpiece of design. It was also the last car that, at that time, the Carrozzeria Pinin Farina designed on a Maserati model before making a comeback in the first decade of the 21st century with the Quattroporte and the GranTurismo.
The A6 GCS-53 was an iconic piece of automotive technology and simply breath-taking for its proportions and design features: a diminutive cabin positioned almost over the rear wheels, a seemingly endless bonnet and long, sinuous wings stretching nearly to the rear wheels.
The Alfieri is obviously much more than a futuristic interpretation of the A6 GCS-53. Maserati has a diversified design history that encourages designers to look forward rather than back: "We wanted the Alfieri to test future design paths", Ramaciotti explains. "The car is very aggressive yet subtle in style, forceful but understated."
The acronym A6 GCS stood for Alfieri 6 cylinder, Ghisa, Corsa, Sport, epithets that characterise its long bonnet and rear-set 2 seat cabin.
While the inverted A pillars of the A6 GCS-53 were not adopted in the new Alfieri, their optical effect has been recreated by a sculptured line that starts from the bonnet and fades to the upper part of the doors, making the windscreen look larger.
The 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 led DRLs are connected by a clear decorative line with a stylistic element in the centre. The aggressive headlights incorporate bi-xenon-LED bulbs and are rendered distinctive by a characteristic brow. 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 21" diameter rear and 20" front wheels feature integrated decorative spokes that are reminiscent of the classic spoke wheels of the 1950s.
Though form is the dominant element, 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 callipers, 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. The edge of each is embellished with a small "Officine Maserati" label.
Rather than analogue binnacle dials, the instrument panel features TFT displays inspired by modern photographic 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.
Luna white and dark Basalt blue are the dominant colours inside the airy Alfieri cockpit. Aniline leather with a natural look and feel covers the seats, dashboard and central console. Copper subtly highlights the main lines that characterise the car and brings a retro feeling to an otherwise futuristic environment.
The interior has a classic 2+2 layout with an open space luggage compartment. The rear seat backrests have a unique, elongated design. Well visible from the outside, they add a sense of speed to the interior. The rear seats tilt forwards through 90 degrees and also serve as luggage bulkheads.
The seat profile inserts, gearbox lever and oval clock on the central console are milled from single piece aluminium billets, hand finished and anodised in a natural copper colour. All other aluminium components, including the pedals, gearbox paddles and steering wheel spokes are also hand finished and anodised in a palladium colour.
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 oval clock with red-blue back plate incorporates two sub-dials and is obviously inspired by a classic chronograph.
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 sleek body lies 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 and gives the Alfieria real driving force. Thanks to a special exhaust layout, this thoroughbred V8 also produces a breath-taking sound.
A six-speed, electro-actuated gearbox (MC Shift) 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.