The original luxury sedan that says Italians do it better when it comes to style fused with performance. But does the Maserati Quattroporte live up to its reputation? Alvin Thomas finds out.
The Maserati Quattroporte is undoubtedly a brilliant car, or rather that has been the case since 2003 when the vehicle debuted for its fifth generation. The reasons for its greatness, though, can be put down to two features: one, it’s made in Italy, which means it’s almost as fine as a hand-crafted Italian suit; and two, it’s as dramatic, lively and a wee bit shady as, say, some Italian politicians. And we’d take lively and shady over boring and dull any day?
Were of all of that to be true, it must be pointed out that there’s one department wherein the Italians falter: modernising – or updating – their cars.
Don’t get us wrong: the Quattroporte, despite its gargantuan exterior and its fairly up-to-date technology, is by no means a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
But, the sedan is in its sixth generation now – and it hasn’t seen a significant update since its release in 2003… that is, until now.
Not much has changed on the exterior of the car – and that’s alright because we’re still keen on its sharp character lines and petite body elements. The front end of the car even seems reminiscent of its 2016 variant, save for a few new additions, like a larger chrome-plated grille and a restyled front bumper with larger air intakes.
The headlamps on the car are a bit sharper too; the designers may have just angled it a bit more to bring it into line with the edgy outline of the car. But it works: it’s still one of those cars we’d expect to see Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise pull up in to a red-carpet event.
Apart from a few minor touches here and there, not much has changed. You still get the generic rear tail lamps, quad-tipped exhausts, and those neither thrills nor frills 19-inch (48cm) alloys.
Of course, if you’re looking to up the ante, you can always tick a few options, write a few cheques worth tens of thousands of Riyals, and opt for the GTS variant, which comes with larger alloys, a meaner body kit, and a bonkers V8 motor churning out more than 550 horses.
Our tester, however, was a Quattroporte S – which, on paper, sits as the entry-level variant to the lineup. But from where we were sitting, we couldn’t quite see why it would fit the bill as an ‘entry-level luxury sedan’.
Soft leather and real wood flanks much of the interior, and a suede-like material makes up the headliner. If anything, it’s what I’d imagine a reception room in Buckingham Palace – where the Queen and her mates would sip tea, eat scones and talk about their pets – would look like.
Technology-wise, it’s not too far either. Everything – starting from the Chrysler-sourced 8.4-inch (21cm) touchscreen, to the multi-information display screen that resides on the instrument cluster – is well laid out and quite intuitive but lacks the lavishness of, say, the tech found in a Mercedes-Benz or BMW.
Still, the touchscreen and the other buttons on the center console are light-years ahead of the complicated ones fitted to those of previous generations. You do get a plethora of buttons to meddle with, of which six are even placed behind the steering wheel!
The seats inside are soft but body-hugging. There’s also plenty of lumbar support and side bolstering for those times when you’re pushing the car to its limits – and trust us, in the Quattroporte, you’ll be doing that quite often.
The reason to that is the astounding 3.0-litre “twin-turbocharged” V6 motor nestling under the long bonnet. The resulting powertrain – which is completed by a spirited eight-speed “ZF” gearbox – pumps out 410hp and 550Nms of torque.
The engine is anything but understated but the way it gets things going is simply beyond belief. Sure, the GTS variant will run rings around its smaller sibling but there’s no way of faulting 550 torques that will spin the tyres from the get-go (at about 1,750rpm).
And you’d better be awake when the torque and the power kick in as you’ll find yourself wrestling with the steering wheel and feathering the throttle to keep the vehicle pointed straight.
The Quattroporte is the ultimate drivers’ car – and it means business. It’s hard to describe why but the easiest way to do so would be to simply push the engine start/stop button and let the engine roar to life.
Its exhaust is the closest thing you’ll find to a soulful string quartet – or maybe even singing angels – at this price point. A dash of the throttle in ‘Sport’ mode will open up valves in the exhausts and let a roar out that would put V8 soundtracks to shame. The progressive nature of the sound further accentuates the driving feel too. And yes, bystanders will be looking at you in awe!
Fitted to the new Quattroporte is a new electronic-assisted steering rack. It’s well-weighted and offers adequate feedback from the road but it can come across as a bit heavy while taking on city traffic. The accelerator, though tuned to suit multiple driving styles, is clever to read the conditions when required.
If I were to point the finger at anything, it would have to be the brakes. They are strong – yes, but the ABS has a very short threshold, and that can hamper the experience during spirited driving. We suspect that the GTS variant with carbon-ceramic brakes would do much better.
Pushing the pedal to the floor – even on the ‘S’ variant – will send the rear wheels spinning, upon which time the traction control will do its best to get the situation under control. As is the case with most Maseratis, you can switch off all the electronic nannies and have a go but you’d best be prepared to control nearly two tonnes of steel and aluminium.
Controlling drifts are as easy as counter-locking the steering, and the higher the speed, the easier it is to control. Where care must really be taken is when you’re making sharp turns in the city. We really can’t think of any plausible explanation that would sit well with the cops as to why your car is facing the opposite direction in a roundabout.
In all, the Quattroporte is quite an impressive car to drive around in. Unlike your Mercedes-Benz S-Classes and BMW 7ers, the Maserati isn’t a car to be chauffeured around in: it’s a car for the kind of person who likes to take control of the wheel themselves.
It truly lives up to its name of being a ‘race-bred luxury sedan’. If we were to put things into perspective, the Quattroporte is essentially the kid you made fun of in school – but turned out to be cool as time went by. And for that very reason, it’s the ace in our pack.
• Engine: 3.0-litre ‘twin-turbocharged’ V6
• Transmission: Eight-speed “ZF” automatic
• Power: 410hp
• Torque: 550Nms
• Real wood trim
• Radar-guided cruise control
• 8.4-inch touchscreen
• Leather-wrapped steering wheel
• LED daytime running lights
• 19-inch alloy wheels
• Sports-tuned adaptive suspension
• Selectable drive modes
• 10-speaker Harman Kardon audio system
• Lane departure warning