Citroën has announced that it has teamed up with Fiat-owned Maserati to launch a modern version of the iconic SM.
Surprisingly, the new SM — which is known as the Pesce d’Aprile Alleggerita internally — will share its basic architecture with the Levante SUV that Maserati introduced last month during the Geneva Auto Show. It will consequently be much taller than the average coupe, though it will boast a sleek, highly-aerodynamic silhouette inspired by the original SM. Black plastic cladding over the wheel arches and the rocker panels will add a rugged touch to the overall look.
The decision to turn the SM into a off-roader was a controversial one, but Citroën explains there were simply no two ways around it.
“I wanted to build the new SM on a modified Maserati GranTurismo platform but marketing told me that no one buys coupes anymore. So I thought “merde, I’ve already told the shareholders about this, let’s just make it a crossover,” and marketing said yes,” explained Citroën spokesperson Peter Patissier in a recent interview with Ran When Parked.
At launch, entry-level variants of the new SM will be powered by a plug-in hybrid drivetrain made up of a Citroën-sourced 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine and a pair of electric motors borrowed from the gasoline-electric version of Chrysler’s new Pacifica minivan. Buyers after more power will be able to step up to a Mercedes-AMG-sourced twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6, and motorists in Europe will have access to a turbodiesel straight-six. Patissier hinted that an all-electric model aimed directly at the Tesla Model X will arrive a few years into the production run.
Citroën engineers feared that using relatively reliable mechanical components would make the SM boring, so they’ve designed a smartphone application that simulates break-downs. Called NonFunziona, owners can use the app to bottom-out the suspension, cut out the ignition in cold or wet weather, and play a loud soundtrack of oil pump-related noises through the eight-speaker sound system. Extra sheet metal welded in the engine bay ensures that key components are out of reach to all but the smallest of hands.
Citroën and Maserati will preview the next SM with a thinly-veiled concept that’s scheduled to bow in a couple of weeks at the biennial Beijing Auto Show. The production model is tentatively scheduled to arrive in showrooms before April 1st, 2018, with a base price that will lie in the vicinity of €85,000.