It seems that Maserati's first SUV, the Kubang, will be living up to its odd name in an unexpected way - it will also be the Modena sports-car company's first-ever diesel.

Whatever company founder Alfieri Maserati - who started his own car factory because the one he was working for stopped building racing cars! - would have thought is doubtful, but current head of development Roberto Corradi is right when he says the Kubang will need a diesel engine to compete in European markets with rivals such as the Porsche Cayenne.

Trident pride will apparently be salvaged, however, by offering a V8 petrol version as well - and if it's the magnificent 4.7-litre unit currently gracing the Quattroporte and Cabrio, the beetle-crusher's future is assured.

Next problem: Other than truck engines, parent company Fiat Auto doesn't have much in the way of big diesels - but in any case the Kubang will share its underpinning's with Chrysler's next-generation Jeep Cherokee, so it's likely Maserati will go the same route for a compression-ignition prime mover, probably the current Cherokee's 177kW, three-litre V6.

Now we come to a really sticky point.

Maseratis are renowned for their spine-chillingly beautiful engine note. The 4.7 in particular will give you goose-bumps every time you rev it, as anybody who has ever driven a GranCabrio will attest, while the Mopar oilburner sounds like what is - a conservative, tough-as-nails, turbodiesel torque factory.

When What Car? asked Corradi what Maserati was doing about it, he said they were looking at ways of using the car's stereo to deliver the right message to the driver.

Come now, signor Corradi; we know Jaguar uses a cone-shaped plastic tube to channel the standing wave produced by the inlet manifold of its five-litre V8 into the ventilation ducts of the XK, filling the cabin with suitably-pitched growly V8 noises, but to give the Kubang's engine an electronic soundtrack - that's really cheating!

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