Do Italians do it better? Y’s Alvin Thomas takes to the road with a stylish, sporty sedan that is sharp but somehow subtle.
Type in the words “Maserati” and “Quattroporte” into Google and you will find that the literal translation for Maserati’s resplendent four-door sedan is – yes, you’ve guessed it – “Maserati four-door”. And I must say that only the Italians can pull off naming their own car the “four-door”. But then again, most uncool words sound endearing when uttered in a different (mostly European) language.
Don’t believe me? Well, the French get away with calling their fancy scents “eau de parfum” while the Italian lexicon includes words such as “bellissima” and “amore” to describe beauty and denote love.
At this point, however, I must stop giving you language classes and point out that the Maserati Quattroporte is more than just a tuneful car with a catchy name. It is actually one of the most magnificent sedans that has ever graced the roads, period.
It is, and always has been, spectacular to look at: as gracious and charming as Anita Ekberg wading into Rome’s Trevi Fountain in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita or as determined and composed as Marcello Mastroianni in any of his film roles.
I’ll tell you this, though: if the Quattroporte took part in a beauty contest for sedans, it would certainly be the first to grab the chequered flag.
The headlights of the Quattroporte are petite and chiselled while there’s a gaping hexagonal chrome grille and dual air-intakes up front to give the car a menacing persona.
Granted, at first, I was taken aback by the almost ostentatious looks but I have to confess: when you see the Quattroporte in the flesh, there really is no way you can hate it.
No air intake is small, and no slash, too short. As a matter of fact, the car’s hunky low-slung profile is further enhanced by the sharp line that runs across the sides of the car – all the way from Maserati’s trademark tri-fender-vents – to the rear of the car.
The uniqueness of the front, however, peters out in the rear as Maserati rounds off the car with a rather generic look. It doesn’t look off or anything; it just doesn’t shout out like the front profile of the car does. Still, my pearl-white test car came with quad-exhausts to round-off the exterior package.
Much of this Italian-ness is carried over to the interior. Unlike most Maseratis of old, sitting in the Quattroporte no longer makes you feel like you’re sitting in an old cathedral.
Of course, you still get tonnes of real wood and myriad soft leather to finish of the dashboard and the seats of the car. Plastics are virtually non-existent unless you bother to search deep in the cubby holders and the lower side panels of the doors. The overall design, however, is conservative. The biggest change is the addition of the new Chrysler-sourced 22cm infotainment system.
The latter is definitely an upgrade from the previous unit, and is still is one of the easiest infotainment systems to use while driving. The graphics, however, could use a bit of a reboot.
Still, I did fancy interior details such as the long chrome strip that integrates the AC vents and also the chrome lining on the steering wheel.
The seats of the Quattroporte are multi-functional – hugging you with adequate side and back bolstering while cornering hard and cushioning you while you’re simply cruising along. I did take a 150km journey in the car, and I can safely say that it is one of the most comfortable cruisers around. The car will seat four passengers with adequate space, and a fifth passenger if he or she really does not mind the exhaust hump running through the middle of the car. That said, the Quattroporte is still one of the largest sedans in its class, with generous amounts of head and leg room for all passengers.
Even the boot is big enough to store two or three full-sized suitcases.
All-round visibility is good despite the small windows and the thick B-pillar, with only marginal blind spots. But there’s a blind-spot monitoring system to take care of you while you’re on the road.
Underneath the long sculpted hood lies a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 engine pumping out a stout 330hp and 500Nm of torque. Furthermore, the engine is mated to an eight-speed “ZF” gearbox, and power is put down on the road via the rear wheels.
Power delivery is very linear in normal driving mode, and the turbos seem to take their own sweet time to spool up. But switch the car to “Sport” mode, and everything suddenly becomes very urgent; ferocious even.
In “Sport” mode, the gearshifts are snappier, the turbos spool instantaneously, with very little lag, and the throttle response is quicker. I could launch the car from zero to 100kph in a mere six-seconds flat. Theoretically, however, it can do even better (assuming one can find the ideal conditions).
The sound from the engine while accelerating simply growls. I have been very vocal about Maserati’s soundtracks in the past, and the Quattroporte is no different. It still feels like there is a jackal residing within the exhaust howling away in a very sorrowful tone. Mind you, the sorrowful tone makes for a very melodious and awe-inspiring soundtrack to listen to while you’re driving.
Of course, when you want things to quieten down, you can simply push the I.C.E button to give you a quieter exhaust note, improved efficiency and furthermore, a very smooth and refined ride.
The driving feel is unlike what you can usually expect from a four-door limousine, too. The Quattroporte takes corners like its smaller sibling, the Ghibli. The grip from the 245/40 and 285/35 tyres is simply phenomenal as it lets you hang onto corners like a little child clinging onto his or her parent’s hands in public. It truly feels like nothing else I have tested in a really long time.
The Quattroporte displayed no form of understeer throughout my test drive despite the (comparatively) thin front rubber but surprised me with a boot full of oversteer when I took a very sharp corner with the traction control switched off.
Holding the car in a drift is extremely (almost ridiculously) easy despite its sheer length.
The steering is still hydraulic, so there’s adequate feel translating from the wheels to the steering while driving. All the controls are all sharp and precise, and the brakes are very linear in speed retardation.
I wouldn’t mind saying that the Quattroporte is in essence a sports car (and a very good one at that) trapped in a pretty limousine. But I guess that’s the charm of this Italian sedan: it hides itself in a discreet manner until the times comes when its master summons all of its might. And then, there’s no stopping it.
This really is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Think of the Quattroporte as a Ferrari with a Maserati badge on it. It really is one of the best Italian sedans ever made.
Oh, and if you’re wondering, the Italians will chuck a 523hp twin-turbo V8 in the Quattroporte if you can handle it.