Two remarkable events concerning Maserati early this year were special enough for Umberto Cini, Maserati’s managing director in the Middle East, India and Africa to fly all the way from Modena, Italy to Cairo, Egypt. The first was to attend the opening of the first ever official Maserati showroom and service centre in the country. The second was the launch of the new SUV, the Levante.
The company, founded in 1914 by Alfieri Maserati in Bologna, Italy – even before Ferrari – had the racing DNA even before there was any thought of producing a car for the masses. The Maserati brothers Bindo, Carlo, Ettore and Ernesto wanted a racing car that, at the Targa Florio endurance race, would beat Fiat, Mercedes, Alfa Romeo and Bugatti. This was before the 24h of Le Mans and Mille Miglia. Their hard work paid off in 1937 when they won the Targa Florio with the legendary Maserati 6CM, the car that dominated the race up until 1939. That was before it was replaced with the Formula One-focussed Maserati 4CL, which also won the Florio in 1940, and the Formula One World Championship driven by Juan Manuel Fangio.
Levante brake caliper
The company has faced turbulence during the last few decades but never lost its identity. In 1997 it was sold to Ferrari which added more Italian passion when it decided to create a supercar for the brand based on the cutting edge Ferrari Enzo. The Maserati WC12 came on the same carbon fibre skeleton of the Enzo, and the same 6L V12 engine that produced 630hp (0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds with a top speed of 208 mph). The company was back in business. It then came under the control of several other companies until it landed in the hands of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The company is now expanding worldwide with a new strategy of hitting new markets. Here is where Egypt comes in.
Levante side vents
“The aim of our company is not to sell more cars. Maserati is a unique brand,” Cini said. The company sales chart says a lot. Maserati sold 518 units back in 1998; in 2016 that went up to 42,100. “BMW and Mercedes sell millions of cars every year. We don’t want to be there. We are on the other side,” Cini told Al-Ahram Weekly.
Cini added that their passion comes from attention to details, performance, style, craftsmanship, and the most important of them all – the exclusivity of the brand. He stressed that they only sell their cars for those who appreciate them, and they are everywhere in the world, including Egypt. “In the first few months in Egypt, and without even having a proper showroom, we managed to sell many cars, a fact that exceeded our expectations,” Cini said.
He also said that the company will not exceed the two digit number in sales in the first year in the country to maintain the exclusivity of the brand.
Maserati is hitting the Egyptian market with two sedans, the Ghibli and the Quattroporte. And last month, the Levante was unveiled.
Without doubt, it is a turning point that will go down in the company’s history. In today’s car market everywhere in the world where consumers are looking for multi-purpose vehicles, Maserati has risen to the occasion, presenting the Levante that it believes can conquer all sorts of terrain with its All Wheel Drive system helped by the chassis height adjustment and torque vectoring system. The car comes with two V6 twin turbo 3L Ferrari manufactured engines to choose from, one producing 350hp and the other 430hp.
“We set a new benchmark when we started putting racing engines in sedan cars, like the Quattroporte, which is now the fastest saloon car in the world, and we will continue to go further,” Cini said. With the new 1,400 square metre showroom in Egypt, Maserati is expected to expand its range of luxury aficionados in the country.