Maserati Buran (ItalDesign) (2000)
The quality of prestige cars from the early twentieth century was interpreted according to Maserati features and elegance.
The Buran, a luxury saloon and ultra-high performing range leader, appeared imposing at nearly 5 m in length (1630 mm), stood impressively high (1630 mm), and displayed wide width (1630 mm) (1950 mm).
An aggressive appearance was mixed with ease of access to the passenger compartment (the second door is sliding) and an internal area that could be outfitted with the most advanced services.
The main layout was inspired by the configuration of hatchback limousines with small boots.
Elegance was also evident on the inside, influenced by studies of the New York Taxi (1976) and the Megagamma (1978), transformed to a lounge or office to optimize trips done at racing or cruising pace.
The Buran had a 3217 cc, 370 horsepower 8 cylinder longitudinal front engine with permanent four-wheel drive.
By releasing the Levante crossover, Maserati crossed that important psychological line, after which it is possible to master almost all automotive niches – if only the recognizable Italian style remains. However, even the Levante could not shock the public as much as the Buran concept car, which debuted in 2000.
Although in the 90s Maserati was gradually improving and sales statistics had a positive trend, this was not enough: German and British competitors put pressure on the Italians from all sides, surprising both with dynamic performance and annual revenue results. As for Maserati… 1,538 cars sold in 1999 versus 518 in 1998 is, of course, a grandiose achievement, but something more was needed.
At the end of the twentieth century, crossovers were not yet as popular as they are now. So, there was a specific answer to the question “What to do next?”. Therefore, at the Geneva Motor Show in 2000 the company, together with Italdesign, presented the Buran concept car, which was a little of everything. And if you are wondering if the name of the concept was inspired by the snowstorm that blows in the steppes, then yes – there is no intrigue here.
Buran is really hard to classify: it has the proportions of a huge hatchback (the concept is almost five meters long), while its rear doors have a minivan-like sliding mechanism, and the slightly protruding trunk lid opens without glass – like a sedan. The wheelbase of Buran is an impressive 2.93 meters, so inside it is also quite spacious. And, of course, luxurious.
Alcantara, piano lacquer, noble metal, mechanical watches – all the elements typical of Maserati are present in the cabin. What Buran stands out from the general background is the automatic transmission selector placed on the dashboard – basically a similar solution is used on minivans. By the way, about the transmission – the Buranovsky “automatic” has 6 gears, and the traction force is applied to both axles. That is, if the car went into the series, it would become the first mass-produced Maserati with all-wheel drive.
The accelerating dynamics of the Buran is not known for certain, but you can count on going from six seconds in a spurt to 100 kilometers per hour – a 3.2-liter twin-supercharged V8 from the Maserati 3200GT is installed under the hood, which produces 375 horsepower. The power plant is fully functional – for promotional videos, the car was driven around Italy.
The stylish car, created by Italdesign with an eye on the 1978 Lancia Megagamma concept, attracted a lot of attention, but did not set the direction for Maserati. In 2003, the concept crossover Kubang was introduced – and now it has already become the weather vane for the company, which showed in which direction to go. But Buran… Buran just remained an ambiguous thing in itself. One of Maserati’s latest truly daring experiments.