Car reviews - Maserati - Quattroporte
Classic Maserati exhaust note, unique Italian styling, surprising pace for base variant
Room for improvement
Too many FCA hangover hints, turbo lag, oversensitive ESC
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14 Mar 2017
Price and equipment
PRICE certainly plays a bigger role in the entry-points of the large luxury sedan segment when compared to the sand box which is the top end, but it is still not necessarily an order winner or loser.
For your $215,000 you get a number of features many would regard as a given in this market such as full leather interior, business class comfort for four or five and performance, which in this case comes from a turbocharged V6 engine and rear-wheel drive.
Other standard fare includes new driver assistance systems that arrived with a mid-life update late last year including adaptive cruise control that functions down to stop-start traffic, lane departure warning, forward collision warning with emergency braking and a 360-degree camera.
All versions of the Quattroporte have that unmistakable Italian look which manages to be both aggressive and elegant, and a whole heap of presence included in the price.
Customers can upgrade with a number of exclusive options including an interior that uses silk tailored by Zegna specially made for vehicle upholstery, or the GranLusso and GranSport packages.
Our car was the simplest version with only the diesel coming in under it on the price list but with the same specification.
First impressions are positive in the cabin with a spacious, broad interior for all occupants and generous seating that sacrifices cornering support for large lounge-style cruising comfort.
The chunky, high-quality leather steering wheel is inviting and frames the sharp Maserati gauges which are finished in a cool blue theme.
Leather upholstery adds a touch of luxury that is essential in this class but the design is more utilitarian than the elegant seating we were expecting from a high-end Italian car.
A real standout in our car was the beautiful wood finish applied about the interior which was a colourful and natural veneer that we have not seen in a vehicle application before.
The wood trim is complemented beautifully by a sleek synthetic suede roof liner that brings a more luxurious touch that customers will be expecting from the big cruiser of the Maserati range.
The large central touchscreen is clearly a product of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles empire with many of the same graphics and functions found in other models from the FCA ranks, but the packaging has been made far more refined in the Maserati with a seamless frame and anti-glare coating.
Accessing the various information and entertainment functions is simple and intuitive but one black mark was found in the reversing camera, which was poor resolution and too dark in all exterior conditions except bright sunlight.
Other FCA hints can be found throughout the cabin including the steering wheel switches, window switchgear and the indicator stalk which appears to be borrowed from the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
You might argue there is nothing wrong with the components in themselves but to find them in a car of this value is a subject much more worthy of debate. An annoying rattle from the open sunroof did not help the Quattroporte in the build-quality stakes.
Engine and transmission
With a little more cash at their disposal, customers have the option of a vicious twin-turbo V8 and the flagship GTS, a mid-range 301kW turbo V6 under the bonnet of the Quattroporte S, but our car was powered by the most affordable version of the six-pot petrol offering up 257kW.
In-gear performance offered by the 3.0-litre force-fed V6 is surprisingly good given that it is the least potent of the spark-ignition engines and acceleration is strong despite the 1860kg heft of the Quattroporte. The official zero to 100km/h is 5.5 seconds.
Turbo lag off the mark is pronounced though, and the knowledge of the eventual bang that comes with full on-boost power makes the delay even more frustrating.
The sweetener is its classic, unapologetic Maserati soundtrack that accompanies a full wring to the red line.
Flick the drive mode into Sport and the four tailpipes put on even more of a concert with charismatic burps between shifts and a fine holler at high engine revs. It might not have the same demonic report as the V8 but those in the know would have no doubt as to what’s approaching.
On the back of the energetic engine is an eight-speed automatic transmission, which is a perfect match for the V6 and the nature of a big luxury sedan.
Other than the occasional clunky anomaly under low load cold conditions, the auto is smooth and relaxing when cruising in all driving situations, but has a decent sense of urgency when in a hurry.
For a majority of journeys, we enjoyed flicking the drive mode to Sport, hitting the M button for manual and using the gear elector to shift gears thanks to its orientation of back for up shifting and forward for lower gears.
With a little less lag, the drivetrain would be a true gem and is still one of the Quattroporte’s best features nonetheless.
It it likely that a large, luxury, high-performance car customer has fuel economy fairly low down on the list of priorities but for the record the Quattroporte used an average of 16.8 litres per 100km during a week of mixed driving styles. That compares with the official combined figure of 9.1L/100km.
Ride and handling
Maserati says the Quattroporte is focused at driving enthusiasts but we are not convinced it quite hits the mark beyond its strong engine and transmission combination.
Steering has a good weight and promises lots of feel and feedback in the twisty bits, but it never eventuates, instead remaining a little heavy and numb without reward. We had trouble placing the Maserati on a line through technical roads even though it has excellent road holding qualities.
Body control is surprisingly good for a car of this size, as is the roll-resistance with the car showing off its composed chassis during enthusiastic driving. Only an overly eager traction control system diminished an enjoyable driving experience, with the electronics intervening before any perceptible wheel slip could be detected.
Like the pre-update Quattroporte, a curious body shake is present over rough surfaces with the suspension set to its most compliant, but the judder disappears when the suspension is set to its stiffest – another reason we spent the majority of our time in Sport.
Even in the most performance-focused setting, the Quattroporte’s chassis is taught and comfortable and just as good for long distance road trips as it is for munching your favourite B-road.
Safety and servicing
For the latest update, Maserati has given the Quattroporte a significant upgrade in driver assistance equipment, which brings it into alignment with some of its key rivals.
It offers a lane departure warning, although it lacks the lane-keep assistance that many offer.
Included is forward collision warning, blind spot alert, rear cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control.
Beyond the array of electronics, the Quattroporte has six airbags with curtain bags for both rows of seating, while its construction uses a combination of hot-formed steel in areas requiring high impact protection and aluminium on other areas to save weight.
Customers are offered the Maserati Maintenance program which allows owners to buy prepaid servicing packages for fixed-price maintenance costs, including some wear-and-tear items such as wiper blades and brake components.
In the large luxury arena, brand counts for a lot and the gravity of customer loyalty to one particular car-maker is a difficult thing to sever. For those fans, the updated Quattroporte recipe will remain as compelling as it always has.
But it has a far tougher job when it comes to customers that are either undecided or already have an affinity with rival brands.
There are a few too many Fiat Chrysler Automobiles calling cards and a lacking of refinement to pose as a significant threat to virtually any other competitor in the ultra-sedan segment.
The GTS variant is quite another story with a knockout punch of performance and some essential enhancements that make it far more competitive, but the entry-level version struggles to put up much of a fight.
Its Italian style is undeniable and it has a charm all of its own, helped in part by that unapologetic exhaust note, but shoppers in the circa-$200,000 have a lot of strong competition to chose from.
BMW 7 Series from $219,000 before on-road costs
BMW’s offering in the range also targets an owner that likes to drive more than to be driven with excellent handling characteristics packaged in a supreme quality cabin. The 7 Series excels in up-to the minute tech with self-parking, digital display key and business-class second-row comfort features to name a few.
Jaguar XJ from $201,615 before on-road costs
For those wanting a way into the segment without handing a cheque to a German manufacturer, Jaguar offers the XJ range. The model may not be as fresh-faced as its more recent XF and XE models, but it still has comfort features to compete in the segment even if it doesn't quite match the Mazz acceleration for the same money.
Porsche Panamera from $210,000 before on-road costs
Porsche has just launched its second-generation Panamera with styling that gives customers in the big luxury car segment one less reason to walk away from the German car-maker’s sedan. Like any of the company’s models, quality, performance and style are all hard to beat.
Chrysler 300 SRT from $65,000 before on-road costs
We know, we know, we know – the Chrysler is not exactly in the same class as the Italian or any of the rivals listed above, but if you don’t mind the odd hint of FCA here and there, the Chrysler offers almost the same space, a gorgeous soundtrack, matched acceleration and you could buy two for less than the price of the cheapest Quattroporte.
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