The world debut of the first ever Maserati SUV has been ruined by the absent-minded organisers of the Frankfurt motor show.

Official show literature has published a picture of the Maser 4x4 well before the car's official release.

The image, which has been picked up by Car Magazine, will have Maserati executives weeping all over their Prada purses...

...And us into our Primark ones, frankly, because it is by some distance the least attractive Maserati ever made. Maybe it's a grower.

Much like the Porsche Cayenne, also initially lambasted for its looks, the new SUV aims to dramatically increase Maserati sales. Mind, Maserati will be happy to accept visual criticism if its SUV is even half as successful as Porsche's has been.

According to Car, however, the targets are extremely ambitious: Maserati plans to increase overall sales ten fold, to 50,000 vehicles per year.

Officially a concept, the 4x4 on Maserati's Frankfurt stand is nonetheless extremely close to production; regardless of the reaction to it, changes for the showroom car will be very subtle.

It will also give Maserati its first diesel, which will be a 3.0-litre V6 unit sold alongside a 4.7-litre V8 petrol version. The diesel will, of course, make up the vast majority of sales.

And in yet another move sure to put the car in the firing line, it will be based on the Jeep Grand Cherokee and built in America, at Chrysler's Detroit plant.

Mind, some might argue that having the Yanks build the tank is better than having the Italians do it. Stereotypes, eh?