On an overcast but otherwise promising day we recently traveled to Detroit at the invitation of two of the coolest carmakers in the world, Maserati and Alfa Romeo, to preview – and put our foot down in – every single vehicle they're offering for sale this year and next. The two legendary brands are now united with the likes of Fiat and Ferrari under the FCA umbrella and are building on their shared legacy of Italian design and uncompromising performance.
The invitation-only 2019 Private Preview took place at the M1 Concourse, an 87-acre world class performance track and motorsports club outside Detroit that Maserati and Alfa turned into their private fiefdom for the day. In addition to track activities there were road tests and briefings on both brands' impressive heritage and feats of engineering.
The number of stunning vehicles on display and that we were handed the keys to was simply staggering and nearly overwhelming for anyone who has dreamed about these cars as much as we have over the years, and the sound of so many thoroughbred engines revving was a heavenly symphony to our ears.
Alfa Romeos at the event included the gorgeous 4C and 4C Spider two-seaters; the new Stelvio which in Quadrifoglio trim set the record for world's fastest SUV; and the new Giulia sedan which is equally pulse-racing. Maserati dominated the field however with the GranTurismo Convertible, super-luxe Quattroporte four-door, new Levante performance SUV; and Ghibli sedan.
Highlights included the 2019 Maserati Levante Trofeo, a 590 HP beast with full luxury appointments that might well be the world's sexiest SUV; the 2019 Levante GTS which is no slouch either packing 550 HP; the Maserati Quattroporte GTS which has 523 HP and can do 190 mph in limousine-like comfort; the Alfa Romeo Giulia Nero Edizione with stealth styling; and a wicked-looking dark green Stelvio Quadrifoglio.
If you think that sedans and SUVs don't belong on a racetrack then you've obviously never driven the ones made by Maserati and Alfa. On the SUV side, while the Stelvio is fairly spartan but no less lust-worthy in Quadrifoglio form, the Levante GTS and Trofeo are sheer hedonism mated to uncompromising competition-bred power. By the same token the Giulia Quadrifoglio is all-business when you want it to be, whereas the Quattroporte GTS is unbelievably fast and just as stylish.
All were equally thrilling to drive both on track and off, and every Maserati harkened back to its heritage the minute the engine turned over. The brand built its first car in 1926, the Tipo 26 racer, which achieved immediate renown with a victory in the 1926 Targa Florio. The marque went on to win the Indianapolis 500 twice, Formula One nine times and the 1957 F1 World Championship.
Alfa Romeo meanwhile can lay claim to the most racing victories of any marque in the world, including the first grand prix world championship in 1923, the first two Formula One world championships in 1950-51, four wins at Le Mans, 10 victories in the legendary Targa Florio and a further 11 at the Mille Miglia. While we didn't set any new records in Detroit, it was a high-octane experience we won't soon forget.