Maserati, and now Jaguar, have stumbled onto this easy trick.
When an automaker has a low volume model, it is easy to toss it onto the back burner and forget about providing meaningful updates to help keep the car competitive in its segment. It never ceases to amaze me how far some automakers are willing to stretch an aging model. Take the Nissan 370Z for example. We recently reviewed a 2018 Roadster model, and it was fitted with the same aging infotainment system as it had back in 2009. In a world where smartphones evolve faster than a hummingbird on speed, this just isn't acceptable.
Redesigning a car can be hugely expensive, so we understand why automakers like Nissan want to milk cars like the 370Z for as long as possible. Recently, we have worked out the secret that automakers use to keep aging models on the market for longer. Consumers don't need an entirely new car, they just need to think the car has been heavily updated. The easiest way to do this is to rip out an aging infotainment system and replace it with a more modern one. The Maserati GranTurismo is the best example of this trick. The GranTurismo has been on the market a year longer than the 370Z (2008), but it now has a new weapon to help it compete for a little longer.
Like the 370Z, the Maserati GranTurimso is a car begging for a replacement after spending a full decade on the market. Maserati has made small changes to the car to continually improve it, but it was essentially putting lipstick on a pig - albeit, a very beautiful pig. For 2018, Maserati hasn't done anything major like update the engine, add a hybrid drivetrain, or even include a new transmission, but the company finally yanked out the woeful infotainment center that has been plaguing the GranTurismo for years. The 370Z's infotainment may be a bit dated, but the GranTurismo's was downright infuriating to use. The central screen looked large enough to touch, but was controlled by unintuitive buttons.
Maserati has finally replaced the old system with an 8.4-inch UConnect touchscreen from the FCA parts bin. Now the GranTurimso will finally have a modern infotainment system befitting of a 2018 model year car. It seems fair considering the car costs over $130,000. With the infotainment sorted, buyers can now admire the GranTurismo for what it is, a raw, old school GT car with a sweet-sounding Ferrari-derived V8. We think other automakers can learn a thing or two from Maserati. Automotive purists love to criticize automakers for killing off manual transmissions and making everything hybrid or an SUV, but this simple trick could help save some of the "purist" models we love.
Jaguar managed to pull the same trick with the XJ. Even though the XJ hasn't been replaced for some time, Jaguar has fitted its newer InControl infotainment system to replace the old system. Minor improvements like this go a long way towards making an interior feel newer than it really is. Swapping an infotainment in an older car may require changes in dashboard tooling on the assembly line, but we think it is an important, affordable way for automakers to keep their aging models from becoming obsolete.