2014 MASERATI QUATTROPORTE REVIEW
What’s Hot: Fabulous powertrain, competent handling, interior space
What’s Not: Suspension lacks body control in 'Normal' mode.
X-FACTOR: It's the red-blooded kind of thing Italians do especially well: style with flair, and a rapid sporting heart.
Vehicle Style: Four door prestige sedan
Price: $319,800 plus on-roads
Engine/trans: 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol | 8spd auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 11.8 l/100km | tested: 18.5 l/100km
Snap. Crackle. Pop.
No, we're not talking about breakfast cereal. We're talking about the exhaust overrun note on the new Maserati Quattroporte.
The last Quattroporte was revered for its sound. But it was naturally aspirated, and some - like us - were worried about how turbocharging would affect the new QP’s V8 voice.
No need to worry. It's still there. Still manic. Still wonderful.
This year, the 100th anniversary of the company, it seems especially appropriate to welcome the launch of the Quattroporte GTS.
But demand globally has been so strong that Australians have had to wait half-a-year longer than the rest of the world to find out what the new car is really like.
At launch, with put it on a looping run through the national park, returning via freeway and back through the city. Here's the verdict.
- Keyless entry and ignition, cruise control
- Multifunction steering wheel with electric adjustment
- Powered and heated front seats, heated rear seats
- Dual-zone climate control with rear air vents
- Sat-nav, Bluetooth phone and audio, USB, Wi-Fi hotspot via mobile
With a wide palette of trim and colour combinations, the Quattroporte's interior is easy to spec to your taste.
While the light-coloured leather of our test car does look (and feel) luxurious, our preference leans to black; cream isn't the most practical.
Likewise the real carbon-fibre trim looks a lot classier than the satin wood with its sunken and textured grain, which evokes memories of Toyota interiors.
There are more plastics evident throughout than you'll find in some premium competitors, like the lower parts of the doors and the knee pads on the side of the transmission tunnel, but the texture and feel is very good.
That said, there are some cheap details dotted about the interior and some part-sharing is evident.
The finish on the hide, however, is perfect, with beautiful stitching and a buttery-soft feel whether it’s on the seats or on the dashtop.
The seats are very comfortable. While there's not a lot of lateral support (the seats feel like they're built for larger Americans), you can comfortably spend hundreds of kilometres here with without fidgeting or fighting off aches and pains.
The rear seats are good if you're in the outboard pair, with a stack of legroom there (thanks to the longest wheelbase in class).
There's enough headroom for all but the tallest passengers, despite a sunroof impeding on ceiling height. The roof-lining is scalloped in the area above the head.
The centre seat, though, is only suitable for a small child, with a driveshaft tunnel and raised bolstering complicating things. There is also a dedicated four seat version as an option.
The driving position is easily adjusted (all-electric as you'd expect), however it's compromised by the wide transmission tunnel.
This forces the footrest to the right, meaning you sit with one leg pushed over slightly. Left-hand-drive versions (of which the majority of QPs will be made) don't suffer this issue.
There's plenty of storage with medium-sized door bins, a big glovebox, two cupholders next to the gear selector, a small coin tray behind that and under the armrest a cubby hole which has two more cupholders or can store two or three small water bottles.
Practicality is excellent too, with the rear-seat being a 60:40 split fold setup (perfect for that trip to Ikea) and the boot size is an extremely usable 530 litres. A space saver tyre is standard equipment for Australia.
While the infotainment screen isn't terribly high resolution, it is large enough to see what's going on and the sat-nav is very simple to use. Pairing your phone through Bluetooth is a snap as well (our Galaxy paired in seconds).
There’s a multimedia option where you get screens for the seatbacks, and while they sit on stands they don’t look half as tacked on as the ones in the Bentley Flying Spur.
For privacy, sunshades electronically raise and lower for the rear windscreen and side doors
We did discover an electronic glitch - well, it wouldn't be a true Maserati if it didn't have some foibles.
The seat heaters worked very well, however they had swapped positions meaning when the driver selected his heater, the passenger's bum became uncomfortably hot and vice-versa.
Since both test cars we drove had the same issue, we'll put it down to the cars not being checked for the right hand drive market yet.
ON THE ROAD
- 3.8 litre petrol twin-turbo V8 | 8-spd auto with paddle shifts
- 390kW @ 6800rpm | 650Nm @ 2000-4000rpm (710Nm overboost @ 2250-3500rpm)
- 0-100km/h - 4.7 seconds
- Independent double wishbone front | Five-bar, four-arm multilink rear
- Hydraulic power-assisted rack and pinion steering
- Fuel consumption (listed): 11.8 l/100km
When the start button is pressed the V8 roars into life with a quick blip of the throttle. Oh yes, it's Italian.
At idle, press the Sport button and flaps in the exhaust open, and the burble becomes even louder.
Paddles fixed to the column allow for manual control, and if you press the M button next to the gearlever it will hold the ratio right to the redline.
None of this 'soft landing stuff', either. Once you’ve passed redline the engine bangs violently up against the limiter, hissing and spitting. The theatrics are worth the price of admission alone.
While it's still a slushbox, Maserati's programming has made this the best application of the ZF eight-speed so far. When in Normal mode it shifts extremely smoothly, making changes unnoticeable.
Press Sport and it heightens the awareness of the gearbox to kickdown as well as holding onto the gears for longer. It also makes for snappy changes on both upshifts and down, almost mimicking a dual-clutch in shift speed.
But it's how quickly it responds to downshifts that makes it truly unique.
Pull the left paddle and it's instantaneous; the sharpest response we've ever encountered in a 'conventional' automatic transmission.
With 390kW on tap and 650Nm increasing to 710Nm on overboost, the big QP will hit 100kmh from rest in just 4.7 seconds and barrel onwards to a top speed of 307kmh, with the V8 note ever present.
That said, it’s never intrusive. For real enthusiasts, spend some time driving with the windows down and you can savour that glorious howl.
While there’s a hint of turbo lag from standstill, throttle response when rolling is very good.
You can really feel it pull from 2500rpm from where it hauls hard in a nice, linear fashion. Once moving, acceleration is stupendous.
Being 100kg lighter than the two-tonne car it replaces has helped the Quattroporte to dance about a lot more than you’d expect, too.
Up to 'nine-tenths' - pushing it seriously - it’s fabulous.
The big Quattroporte has a balance that belies its size and surprising turn-in response. Push harder still however, and its 1.9-tonnes causes the front to push a bit more (but you’ll feel it before it bites you).
Really, a highlight of this car is the steering. While around town it's reasonably light and delicate, at speed the weight increases.
And, being a hydraulic system, the feel is fantastic. At the wheel, the big Maserati is just as involving as the Aston Martin Rapide but without that car's cumbersome weight.
There are some debits to the handling though. In 'softer' standard mode, the suspension struggles to keep the car from jostling about.
Press the button to 'Sport' to firm it up and the ride becomes extremely firm, but reins in body movement.
While this is the mode you’ll choose when you really want to hustle it along, be warned, Sport makes the ride almost unbearable around town (especially Sydney’s rubbish road surfaces).
Sport mode also backs off the stability control. Maserati informs us that it can read steering input and will allow you plenty of slide action if you’re on top of it, otherwise it’ll rein things in.
With the drive event held on a double-demerit weekend, we’ll have to take their word for it.
The brakes work very well (going from 100kmh to zero in 34m), with a slightly grabby initial bite but positive feel all the way through the pedal travel, and no fade to speak of.
SAFETY | RATING
ANCAP rating: The Quattroporte has not been tested by either ANCAP or EuroNCAP.
Safety features: Six airbags, active headrests, load-limiting pretensioner seatbelts, rear-view camera, rear sunshade retracts when reverse is selected, stability and traction control, ABS, EBD, EBA.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Maserati has a very good premium sports limousine with its new Quattroporte. It's a sharper steer than the car it replaces and more liveable day-to-day.
It's great to hammer along a country road, and also not half bad to steer around town (especially in a tunnel with the windows down).
The Quattroporte does have to compete in some distinguished company however. The new S-Class outdoes it for outright finish and the Panamera is a lot quicker (but nowhere near as stylish).
But, with those beautiful seats, acres of space and wonderful powertrain, the Quattroporte has plenty to commend it.
If you’re in the market for this kind of top-end purchase, it’s well worth a look. You'd almost buy it for the sound it makes alone.
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