JUN 19th 2014

You want me to sell how many Maseratis?

‘MOST FERRARI OWNERS HAVE AN SUV. WHY NOT A MASERATI SUV?’

GRR Maserati centenary tour part four: Nigel McMorrough, main dealer

We are driving around a chunk of southern England in a new and very black 190mph Quattroporte GTS propelled by the most powerful engine ever put in a Maserati road car. Well, someone has to – it is their centenary after all. The point? To talk to the people with a passion for the trident brand from Modena. We’ve so far talked to a racer, a restorer and a Maserati motorbike enthusiast, and this time the spotlight falls on new Maseratis – and one of the dealers who has to sell them…

A rare constant in Maserati’s UK presence over the years has been Meridien Modena in Lyndhurst. The trident brand has been held aloft in this corner of the New Forest for more than 25 years, as the UK concessionaries between 1991 and ’98 and now as main dealer on a site shared with former enemy turned saviour and now partner within the Fiat Group, Ferrari.

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Nigel McMorrough

Despite old rivalries as Italian supercar manufacturers, Maserati and Ferrari slot together today in complementary fashion, in round terms the trident taking care of the £50-£150,000 area, the prancing horse £150k plus. For Maserati this means doing things it has never done before (and which Ferrari could never do). So executive saloons. Diesel engines. An SUV (the Levante, out next year) and, more than anything else, extra sales: eight times as many in fact, at a planned 50,000 per year globally, with the UK being the third biggest market. The world being SUV crazy as it is, the Levante is expected to be by far the biggest seller of the whole range.

Nigel McMorrough, dealer principal at Meridien Modena, is one of the few charged with selling the many. How’s he going to do it?

‘By bringing in people who are new to Maserati,’ he says, adding that they already have names in the Levante order book from people new to the brand – even people, in defiance of traditional partisanship, who own a Ferrari. ‘Most Ferrari owners would also have an SUV in the garage – a Range Rover or Porsche Cayenne perhaps – so why not a Maserati SUV?

‘The important thing is that Maseratis stay true to what they are. For us that means smart, gracious cars that are obviously Italian and never flashy. Supercars in Italian suits. These qualities are in the Maserati DNA that has been used to create the new models like the Ghibli and the Levante.’

For Nigel, who has worked at Meridien Modena for 22 years, there is another Maserati quality that perfectly translates to the new Maserati models. ‘There is no stigma to driving a Maserati,’ he says. ‘With such an evocative name there is kudos to it but most people see a Maserati and think, wow, that’s nice, and let you out at junctions and come up and talk to you at petrol stations. Driving a Maserati you get a good reaction from other road users, probably better than with other Italian brands.’

Enthusiasm for Maserati is rife at the dealership, which is a supercar paradise in the midst of an ocean of holiday traffic on Lyndhurst’s one-way system. Amid the new cars is a collection of classics the dealership has built up over the years, including a stunning white Ghibli and pastel green Mistral Spyder which will be taking a starring role in the coming Maserati celebrations, including those at the Festival of Speed.

For Nigel, the connection between Mistral Spyder and new diesel SUV is a clear one: ‘In order to continue building wonderful sports cars in the modern world manufacturers need to diversify. People complained when Porsche started making the Cayenne. In reality that car allows them to exist.’

Does he have any message for the factory then? ‘Diversify, but never lose sight of the Maserati core: sports cars and motor racing. That’s where the love is.’

NEXT TIME: Anyone for Citroën hydraulics?
LAST TIME: The trident badge… on two wheels?

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