– Strong power all the time
– Cabin space and features
– Sporty drive and handling
– High base price
– A bit too long externally
– Sporty even on a casual cruise
What is a Maserati? The nameplate’s had a resurgence over the past decade, after churning out painfully-outdated sedans and coupes that had built a solid reputation for being as trustworthy as Italian politicians. In the more recent past, more modern offerings like the previous-gen Quattroporte have helped to establish the brand as a proper contender in the luxury segment, although we never could figure out what segments their cars played in without looking at the price tag. Does the Quattroporte go up against a BMW 5-Series or a Bentley Flying Spur? Well, we’ve never driven the old ones, but we did get a round in the latest version.
Right off the bat, it’s obvious the enlarged new Quattroporte is now a proper full-size sedan. In fact, it looks awkwardly long in profile, thanks to a wheelbase that rivals those of cars like the Jaguar XJ-L. The front-end is aggressive, while the rear is a bit generic, if still handsome.
Inside, the cabin is beautifully appointed all over with real wood, padded leather and metal trim, although the overall design is decidedly conservative. We did like nice details, such as the dash-wide chrome strip that integrates the a/c vents, the metal bits on the chunky steering wheel, and the logo-engraved aluminium pedals.
As we said, the new Quattroporte is a larger car, and therefore the interior is as spacious as anything else in its class. Room up front is good, even with that sharply-raking windshield, while space is in the back is positively enormous. Even the boot is big. And there’s enough proper cup-holders, door pockets and cubbies too, so it’s way more practical than a Porsche Panamera. All-round visibility is surprisingly good as well, even out the back.
Gadget-wise, the elephant in the room is the 8.4-inch touchscreen that’s obviously sourced from Chrysler. It’s an excellent system, better than most, with good response and big icons to play with the navigation, stereo, climate control and other doodads. There are redundant buttons for the solid CD/MP3 USB/AUX Bluetooth audio system of course, as there are for the good four-zone auto a/c. There’s also the obligatory sunroof, rear electric blinds, power front seats, cruise control, lots of airbags, electronic parking brake, rear camera and such, but nothing as fancy as a panoramic glass roof, heads-up display or reclining rear seats, though at least the latter is apparently an option.
Powered by a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6, it makes a whopping 404 hp at 5500 rpm and 550 Nm of torque at 1750 rpm, all fed to the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic. During our November test, we managed a 0-100 kph time of 5.9 seconds, which is impressive, although theoretically it can do even better if you can find ideal conditions. After the initial kick, the power is smoothly delivered over the rev range, and the push is relentless well into illegal speeds. Fuel consumption isn’t bad at all, as we clocked a 15.2 litres/100 km reading on the trip computer.
The driving feel is truly something else, at least for a car of its size. The Quattroporte – the name itself meaning “four doors” in Italian – behaves like a sports car trapped in a limo body. There are huge metal paddle-shifters mounted on the steering column with the most satisfying “click” action. The manual gear-shifting is quick enough to be useful, with an intoxicating exhaust burble on downshifts. There’s tons of grip from the 245/40 front and 285/35 rear tyres on its 20-inch wheels, while body roll is limited to the point of imperceptible in moderately-aggressive driving. And all the controls are sharp, with firm steering and powerful brakes. All in all, the handling is neutral yet exciting.
However, there are some niggles, if what you’re looking for a pure sports sedan. The weighty steering has almost no feedback, while the sharp throttle pedal can be somewhat uneven in response at times. It’s also a very long car, although it hides its size well, at least until it comes time to park.
The luxury aspect is done well up to a point, but compromises were made to retain that sporting goodness. The slightly-firm ride is comfortably smooth on most surfaces and compliant enough on rougher ones. Wind noise is virtually non-existent, but there is noticeable road noise from the wide tyres, while the throaty engine is always audible to different degrees depending on speed. In “sport” mode, the ride is harsher and the exhaust is louder, but that’s expected and welcomed.
This is the first time we’ve driven a Quattroporte, and it’s a bit of a revelation. Apparently Ferrari builds the engines for these cars, and that shows in its behaviour. We cannot think of any other large sedan that has as much character in its enthusiastic drive, and that may be enough to overcome its minor compromises and high price in the minds of those who buy one.
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