Maserati has started testing the powertrain for its new sports car, due to be unveiled next year, on public roads in a test mule.

The Italian firm has released a series of shots of a camouflaged machine leaving its Modena factory at night. It says the machine is being used to house a “new powertrain entirely developed and built by Maserati”, that is the first in a new family of engines it is developing.

The firm has yet to confirm any details of the car it will unveil next year, although it had been widely expected to be a production version of the 2014 Alfieri concept, which it committed to putting into production in 2018.

The Alfieri concept was a front-engined 2+2 coupe, while the test mule appears to be a mid-engined two-seater. While that does raise the prospect the sports car that will be launched in 2020 will be an entirely new concept, it appears that the test mule is based on the outgoing Alfa Romeo 4C produced by its sister firm rather than an all-new chassis. That suggests the mule is potentially being used purely to test the new powertrain, rather than giving any indication of the car it will eventually power.

Details on the machine’s camouflage wrap suggest the machine will be launched at an event in May 2020, which suggests it will no longer be launched at the Geneva motor show. 

There are no details on that powertrain, although when Maserati released details of its updated business plan recently it said it was upgrading the Modena production line to accommodate the machine’s “electric powertrain”. It is likely to be some form of hybrid unit.

The new machine will be the first all-new Maserati released since 2015.