Maserati and Italdesign once came up with a 365hp MPV

The Buran concept debuted at the Geneva show in 2000
by Sam Burnett | May 29, 2021
PHOTO: TopGear.com
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What is this strange-looking thing?

This is the Maserati Buran concept car, which was revealed at the 2000 Geneva International Motor Show. The Geneva show was an event where lots of people would gather in one place to see new cars—before the Internet was invented and folks leaked the pictures so you didn’t have to bother going.

Well, at least it isn’t an SUV...

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What’s worse—a Maserati SUV or a Maserati MPV? Clearly the latter, as the SUVs have gone into production. Still, the idea was sound—the Italians were trying to see if anyone was interested in a fusion of sedan and MPV, a taller limo with a more compact footprint but just as much interior passenger space. And a lot less prestige, too, presumably.

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Wait, is that a sliding door?

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Who would have thought that a Maserati could have come with a set of sliding doors, even in concept form? The Buran could have been the chauffeur car of choice for midlevel Italian executives and junior politicians. Just to make sure that you remembered this was a Maserati MPV, the Buran was designed with a strangely unhelpful trunk lid that just lifted out of the way of the trunk hole. No opening hatch, just a sort of vertically mounted sedan hatch thing, like it was the side of a coach.

What was it like inside?

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The Buran concept was absolutely festooned in brown suede and rammed with gloss-black inserts about the place. It had the air of the inside of a particularly expensive Italian loafer. There was a smattering of cabin storage, a dash-mounted stick for the six-speed auto ’box (all the rage in MPVs of the time), and loads of legroom in the back, accessed by that electronic sliding door.

Who designed the Maserati Buran?

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The Buran was knocked together for Maserati by the grandmaster himself, Giorgetto Giugiaro and the team at Italdesign in Italy. The car was bigger than it looked in pictures, at nearly five meters in length. It was 1.63 meters tall and 1.95 meters wide, with plenty of space inside. The wheels were a particularly nice touch, although in retrospect, perhaps they weren’t supposed to look like an octopus on a plate.

What was under the hood?

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Perhaps the most fun part of the Buran was its engine—the 3,217cc twin-turbo V8 from the 3200 GT coupe producing 365hp put down to the ground by permanent four-wheel drive. The donor car managed the 0-100kph run in 5.1sec, and the Buran would have done it in...slower. Whatever else you might think about the prospect of a Maserati MPV, though, it would have been the best-handling Milan airport taxi with an engine noise to die for.

Why didn’t the Maserati Buran concept go into production?

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Unless you reworked the term ‘MPV’ to mean Maserati performance vehicle, it really doesn’t have any business sitting on anything bearing the trident logo, does it? It would be like an Aston Martin city car, or a Lotus SUV.

Can I buy a Buran?

Well, you can’t actually buy a Buran, but in some places, you could buy the car that Giorgetto Giugiaro subsequently penned while using it as inspiration—the Fiat Croma. Bad luck. Not quite a Maserati now, is it?

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NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.

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PHOTO: TopGear.com
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