The Quattroporte four-door sedan has been the mainstay of the Maserati range for getting on two decades, underpinning the company’s success while it sorted itself out under Fiat and Ferrari ownership.
The big cruiser struggles to cut through, though – the new, smaller Ghibli arrived with a splash and next year the long-awaited Levante SUV will grab headlines and likely double Maserati’s sales in Australia.
Before the onslaught, the Italian company has quietly added a new petrol-powered variant to the range and tempt a few more buyers from German brands into the Trident.
The 330bhp slots in to the range five thousand dollars above the Diesel’s $210,000 starting price and a healthy $25,000 below the V6 S.
Maserati says that buyers of the 330bhp will likely spend the price difference to the S on options, suggesting that those buyers focussed more on “Italian craftsmanship” rather than outright performance will look to this new spec level.
The MY16 update not only brings the new variant but a subtle lift in equipment levels. Standard is a ten-speaker stereo with USB and Bluetooth, power everything, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, cooled console storage bin, front and rear parking sensors with reversing camera, cruise control, sat-nav, auto headlights and wipers, double-glazed windows, leather everywhere, woodgrain details.
As with cars like this, that’s the edited highlights. There’s also a long, long list of options, including the forthcoming new silk trim for the seats; the fruits of Maserati’s collaboration with Zegna.
The Quattroporte was a gentle evolution of the previous model and despite growing in every direction, doesn’t look any bigger, even when serendipitously parked next to the previous model. The styling masks the sheer size of the car, with elegant curves and a long, low-slung look. It isn’t the self-conscious four-door coupe of some of its rivals, however – more a classic sedan.
Bling is kept to a minimum on the exterior and in all things, Centro Stile has kept in mind that buyers of this car aren’t wanting to shout about it the way a Gran Turismo buyer might.
Inside is a cabin that will struggle to age. There’s nothing hugely distinctive in here but it is beautifully built and trimmed. The front seats are big and comfortable, while soft leather covers any surface that isn’t wood.
There’s just a couple of jarring details – a few of the chrome bits are obviously plastic. They’re minor dramas, however, in a cabin that begs you to get comfortable and shut out the world. Double-glazing keeps out road noise and ensures hushed travel.
Six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, brake assist, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.
There is no ANCAP or EuroNCAP safety rating for the Quattroporte.
A seven-inch screen supplies a range of functions and is clearly based on the Fiat Group’s UConnect software. Sadly it isn’t the greatest in the world and is the only real glitch in the technological armour.
Once you suss the way it works, it’s perfectly reasonable, but doesn’t have the slick usability of German rivals. Having said that, it’s streets ahead of the Lexus LS’s system.
Sound from the ten speakers is fantastic, with terrific performance all the way from deep bass to operatic high notes (okay, weird trip-hop trilling, but it’s roughly the same…)
ENGINE / TRANSMISSION
Like the S, the 330bhp is powered by Maserati’s twin turbo 3.0 litre V6, which itself is based on the Ferrari-manufactured V8. As the name suggests, it produces 243kW and a chunky 500Nm. With just under two tonnes to shift, the ubiquitous eight-speed ZF automatic transmission hauls to 100km/h in 5.6 seconds, half a second down on the 301kW S.
Maserati claims 9.1L/100km on the combined cycle (with the help of stop-start), which seems reasonable given our figure of 10.8L/100km on the very mixed route we took on the launch drive.
It doesn’t take long to realise that the Quattroporte is a proper heavy-hitter. With the car set for city traffic, it’s impressively quiet and comfortable from driver or passenger seat.
While it might be missing 58 kW from the S’s V6, you’d hardly call the 330 slow. That fat torque curve – all of it is available from 1750 rpm to 5000 rpm makes for easy, smooth progress in traffic and the light steering makes easy work of guiding the 5.2 metre sedan around.
Rear seat passengers lounge in style and comfort, with good leg, head and shoulder room and the very pleasant ride, with a good view out despite the relatively shallow glass line.
You can press one of two sport buttons – one sharpens up the throttle and transmission as well as letting loose some lovely noise from the exhausts. A second button stiffens the suspension and turns the Quattroporte into a very handy sporting sedan.
It’s terrific fun in the winding stuff, the car feeling a lot smaller than it really is, happy to be thrown left and right, cheerfully punching out of corners. The engine certainly never struggles but if you’ve driven the S or V8, you’ll notice the difference but there’s ample compensation in the form of high-rev howl and poppy exhaust.
The only dynamic problem is the electric steering – it seems to get confused between your inputs and feedback from the road, the tyres feeling like they’re “nibbling” an uneven surface, tweaking the wheel in your hands. The assistance is a little spotty, too, unexpectedly changing weight. It’s just a bit weird. In normal driving, you’ll probably never notice it.
SUMMING UP 4/5
The Quattroporte is a beautiful car to look at and drive. Passengers love the space and comfort. It even served as a mobile office as we bombed our way south to Sydney Airport. It plays the dual roles of graceful cruiser and sports sedan with apparent ease. If you don’t need all the gizmos in the rival German sedans and prefer your interiors lighter with a more bespoke, handmade feel, the Quattroporte will hit that target.
LIKES: Terrific powertrain, huge luxurious cabin, great looks, the badge
DISLIKES: Iffy entertainment software, weird sensations through electric steering, some dodgy plastic chromed bits.