By Andrew Ganz
Monday, Jun 20th, 2011 @ 3:41 pm
 
The Fiat-Chrysler tie-up is undoubtedly reaping benefits for the two namesake divisions, but a new report suggests that a cross-development is underway in Turin and Auburn Hills that could have purists crying foul.

Fiat and Chrysler chief Sergio Marchionne told a Detroit-area radio station earlier this year that a Maserati SUV based on the Jeep Grand Cherokee platform will be powered by a Ferrari-designed engine, a powertrain that wouldn't exactly be easy - or cheap - to shoehorn into the Jeep.

Since then, a British magazine says it has talked with an unnamed designer, who indicated that the Grand Cherokee-based Maserati will feature a "wavy waistline" and the "trademark Maserati patrician nose," in keeping with the Italian brand's recent designs.

Inside, the Maserati SUV would, naturally, gain a far more premium look and feel than even the top Grand Cherokee - something it would need, since it would square off against the premium Porsche Cayenne.


Underhood motivation
"It will be a rock and roll engine," Marchionne said. He later indicated that both V8 and V12 powertrains would be on offer. Now, however, Top Gear suggests that the Grand Cherokee-based Maserati will get a version of the 465-horsepower HEMI V8 used under the hood of the upcoming Grand Cherokee SRT8.

This seems a lot more likely than the Ferrari powertrains indicated earlier since the Chrysler-developed V8 and the Grand Cherokee's platform were engineered to work together. The magazine also hinted that a Fiat diesel V6 will be on offer for the Maserati.

Maserati itself has not confirmed plans for such a vehicle, which would undoubtedly be among the most complexly-designed cars to ever hit the market if it came equipped with the Ferrari engines. The Grand Cherokee's platform is actually shared with the 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class, meaning that Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler and Fiat would all have had a hand in creating the SUV.

It is unclear whether the Maserati would use the shorter wheelbase Jeep version of the platform or the longer wheelbase version currently used in the Dodge Durango and expected to underpin the reborn Jeep Grand Wagoneer. All vehicles built on the platform - WK2, as it is known internally - are currently assembled at Chrysler's Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit, but the Grand Cherokee is expected to be built at Chrysler's Mirafiori plant in Italy in the near future, which seems like a much more natural assembly location for a Maserati.

References
1.'Maserati to launch...' view