The Maserati Quattroporte is a classic top-spec sedan with all the hallmarks of what defines Italian luxury.
In our ever-evolving world, the idea of luxury differs vastly from one buyer to the next, a point that Italian brand Maserati is seeking to exploit with those it targets.
The Quattroporte range competes in a segment that so far this year is down 16.5 percent, in part due to the declining demand for large and expensive sedans (in contrast, the large luxury SUV market is up 17.3 percent), but now there’s a new entry-level petrol model, dubbed simply the Maserati Quattroporte.
Priced at $215,000 - $5000 more than the diesel and $25,000 below the Quattroporte S - it gives those that want a petrol-powered variant a new and worthy option without having to fork out for the S.
From an equipment perspective, the base car gets basically the same level as the S with the entire 2016 range gaining a stop-start system, blind spot monitoring, rear cross path warning, auto dipping door mirrors, power/remote opening boot, Apple iPhone Siri integration as well as the inclusion of a Harmon Kardon sound system as standard kit.
Essentially, you’re getting $25,000 off the price to forgo 58kW of power and 50Nm of torque. The same 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 engine as the S is still under the bonnet, but now in a different state of tune with 243kW of power and 500Nm of torque.
It’ll take the new Quattroporte 5.6 seconds (0.5 slower than the S) to go from a standstill to 100km/h, though Maserati freely admits that the new model is more tailored to those that seek luxury ahead of outright performance.
From the outside the Maserati Quattroporte is a fine looking motor car, even if it does seem to share a great deal of its rear-end design with the much cheaper and more popular Ghibli (the Quattroporte came first).
It doesn’t necessarily garner the attention of green eyes as, say, a Bentley Continental or an Aston Martin Rapide, but it’s a step above the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series in the highly subjective looks and class department.
Step inside, though, and it’s when things get that little bit confusing. You see, Maserati is part of the Fiat Chrysler group of companies. A behemoth only rivalled by the likes of Volkswagen. The group owns Ferrari, Maserati, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and other lesser known brands such as RAM Trucks. The point? It likes to share parts.
Much like the Continental that has the satellite navigation system out of a Volkswagen Golf, or the Rapide, which borrows its from a decade old Volvo, the Quattroporte shares a few things with the Chrysler 300 and other Chrysler group vehicles.
Whether it’s the look and feel of the very plastic start button, the audio and cruise control buttons on the steering wheel or the UConnect infotainment system that is almost identical to the 300’s, it’s far too obvious to miss.
Is it a negative? It’s hard to say. The ultra-niche luxury manufacturers such as Bentley, Aston Martin and Maserati cannot afford to create bespoke items for every piece of equipment they have inside their cars – as such, they rely on more mainstream manufacturers that have far more extensive experience and scale.
In an ironic sense, it’s almost the opposite of what BMW and Mercedes-Benz do, which is to launch the absolute latest and greatest technology in the S-Class and 7 Series and then let it stream down the rest of the range.
That brings us back to a very difficult question, does cutting-edge technology define luxury?
It depends on the buyer, but certainly if having a smart key with an LCD screen that can monitor your car remotely or a car that can basically drive itself is more important to you than a Maserati badge, then yes, the Quattroporte doesn’t make sense. Then again, how many Quattroportes wear a Limo or Hire Car plate?
The Quattroporte relies on its exclusivity, but not without merit, as for whatever you think of its somewhat lacklustre infotainment or already outdated active safety systems (which were available on a top-spec Toyota Camry many years ago), it’s a very pleasant place to be inside.
It’s as classic as a luxury sedan can be. While the S-Class and 7 Series have become technology obsessed, the Italians have gone for a far more traditional approach, one that emphasises the purity of driving more than anything else. So much so that up until this very model, Maserati had never fitted a power tailgate to its cars because, as Maserati Australia boss, Glen Sealy said, “people can close their own boots”.
Behind the wheel the entry model Quattroporte isn’t exactly slow, but put it up against a long wheelbase S500 or a new 750i and it’s a different world in terms of dynamics.
While the Germans have employed enough sensors to make an Airbus compliance engineer proud, the Italians have a button that turns on Sport mode and another that makes the suspension stiffer for enthusiastic driving. It’s simple, but it works.
Around the twisty mountainous roads of the Old Pacific Highway in outer Sydney, we found ourselves pleasantly surprised by the Quattroporte’s handling ability, though the steering never felt as sharp or focused as we’d hoped.
With a kerb weight of 1900kg, it’s not the most nimble car around and certainly lacks the S-Class’ sophisticated suspension setup and the 7 Series’ dynamic ability, but get it stuck in traffic, where it will no doubt spend the great majority of its life, and the Quattroporte is an extremely pleasant place to be.
The front and rear seats offer great neck and back support and the ergonomics of the car are well thought out.
Even the doors, for example, can open and stay open at any angle, so there’s no need to hit a pivot point. Considering the size of the car, this makes getting in and out a lot easier than it would be otherwise.
Overall, the Maserati Quattroporte is the sort of car you’d happily drive yourself without the stigma of it being a chauffer car. It’s Italian luxury in terms of exclusivity, class, brand value and craftsmanship. Nonetheless, it lacks the technological and dynamic sophistication of its German rivals.