Alfa Romeo 4C Concept

If you're of the opinion that Maserati has gone soft, you're not alone. The company that once dominated grand prix racing and built mid-engined exotics today builds enticing, but relatively soft grand tourers with automatic transmissions. But there's a reason for that. Since it was integrated into the Fiat group, the Trident marque had to find its own place, and competing head-on with sister-company Ferrari wasn't an option.

So, Maserati's focus was altered to the point that now it's preparing to launch two new sedans and an SUV. But don't book it into a retirement community just yet, because word has it that the Modenese automaker is also working on a hardcore, mid-engined V8 sports car to bring the marque back to its roots and show the world exactly of what it is capable.

The first report on the project came in last month, and now the performance-obsessed auto scribes over at Evo say they have some more details for us. And it's already sounding drool-worthy. The lightweight supercar is to revive the GranSport name last used on the final version of the 4200-series Maserati Coupe that was replaced by the GranTurismo in 2007. The project is reportedly being driven by Harald Wester, who in addition to presiding over Maserati, is also chief executive of Alfa Romeo.

Having witnessed the enthusiasm which the 4C (pictured above in conceptual liquid-metal finish form) has drummed up for Alfa, Wester apparently wants the same for Maserati. The same sort of carbon monocoque construction would be employed, but where the 4C will use a four-cylinder engine, the GranSport would be built around the 454-horsepower 4.7-liter V8 built by Ferrari for the latest GranTurismo Sport. With weight ambitiously targeted to undercut the Ferrari 458 Italia by several hundred pounds, that could prove one devastatingly quick package.

The GranSport would also aim to undercut the 458 in price to take on the upper end of the Porsche 911 range where the Turbo and GT3 models sit. Wester says production wouldn't be limited by design, but he expects they could sell betweem 1,500 and 2,000 units per year after introducing it sometime around 2015. Selling the Fiat board on the idea, however, is another matter entirely.