The 2016 Maserati Quattroporte GTS takes the venerable Italian brand’s four-door saloon to the level that has been expected of it all along.
With a powerful 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol engine under the bonnet and a far more sporting chassis setup, the Maserati Quattroporte GTS has significantly more grunt, and bucketloads more wow factor than the luxury-focused models that came before it.
But like all things that are highly desirable, it comes with a hefty price tag.
The 2016 Maserati Quattroporte GTS is listed at $331,000 plus on-road costs. That makes it a staggering $91,000 more than the S, $116,000 more than the standard V6 Quattroporte and $121,000 more than the diesel version. The brand has just unveiled an updated 2017 model, which may see some adjustments to local pricing, and we've heard that while the list price may be a bit breath-taking, there are deals to be had if you bargain hard.
For the extra spend over the, shall we say, 'lesser' Quattroporte variants you get a 390kW, 650Nm forced-induction eight-cylinder engine teamed to a standard eight-speed automatic gearbox with paddleshifters that channels the wallop to the rear wheels… and not much else.
That is to say there are not many extras that the GTS gains over the standard models, though the entire 2016 range has been updated, with all Quattroporte models adopting blind-spot alert and rear cross-traffic alert, along with an electronically-operated boot lid with gesture control (with the key on your person you can wave your foot under the rear bumper and it will open if your hands are full).
All Quattroporte models also get a 12-speaker, amplified Harmon Kardon sound system, and if you do a lot of night driving the standard directional (turning) bi-xenon headlights with auto high-beam and LED daytime-running lights will impress.
Let’s talk about the interior in a bit more detail, because it’s something of a hit and miss affair. We'll start with the hits.
There is leather almost everywhere – on the doors, on the dash, the seats, the centre console and even on the grab handles and on the seatbelt surrounds. It’s soft, it’s supple, and it feels of a very high quality, and the fit and finish throughout the cabin is excellent, too.
The Maserati trident is emblazoned just about everywhere – embossed on the leather-coated headrests, it appears in the driver instruments and it even shows up on the analogue clock atop the centre dash.
There’s an acre (okay, maybe not literally an acre) of space in the rear seat, with very good head, leg and shoulder room for two occupants. You could fit three, but it wouldn’t be quite as deluxe, though there are shades for the rear windows, including a rear windscreen shade that retracts when the driver selects reverse.
And the boot measures a handy 530 litres, which is certainly big enough for your high-end Italian luggage to fit.
Now for the misses – and there are quite a few of those, too, for a car at this price point.
If you’re spending over $330K you’d expect plenty of luxuries, but the Maserati is missing a bunch of the stuff you’d find fitted to the likes of a Mercedes-Benz S-Class for the same cash.
Comfort items such as rear entertainment screens – you can option a pair of 10.8-inch units, but you really shouldn’t have to. Then there’s the lack of rear air-conditioning controls, which seems a big oversight for a car that is seemingly designed for those in the back as much as those up front.
Further to those omissions, the Quattroporte doesn’t have the most up-to-date safety kit even in this top-spec model. Sure, the new safety items are welcome additions, but having no autonomous emergency braking or even adaptive cruise control in a car at this price point could be seen as rude to consumers.
There are other elements to the cabin that just don’t stack up. If you’ve driven or been a passenger in a Chrysler 300C or Jeep Grand Cherokee you’ll notice that plenty of the parts are familiar, which comes down to the company tie-up between all those brands.
And look, if you didn’t know, you might not be able to pick it. But even Maserati makes mention of the fact its interior hardware isn’t what you should expect of a car at this price point: “The functional features are downplayed to focus the attention on the top-class natural materials…” You could read that as: “Don’t look too closely, because the usable bits are a bit cruddy for a super-luxury sedan”.
The single control stalk from the steering column, the push-button starter, the steering wheel itself, the 7.0-inch driver information screen between the dials and the 8.4-inch MTC infotainment system are all remnants of Fiat Chrysler products that have come before it.
At least the 8.4-inch screen has simple Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a couple of USB inputs, an SD input and auxiliary input, and there’s even a Wi-Fi hot-spot. Oh, no, you have to option that too…
In short, this doesn’t feel like a $330K car inside, despite its best intentions. And that’s exacerbated when you try to get the thing moving.
The car’s gear selector needs ultra-precise movements in order to select the right gear. Pull it back just a bit too far and it’ll choose neutral rather than reverse (or worse, drive!), and then try to correct that and you’re just as likely to end up back in park.
All CarAdvice staff who drove the car found it supremely frustrating, and it would be no surprise if, after a test drive, a potential buyer decided they couldn’t go through with the purchase – particularly if the test included a three-point turn or reverse parallel park.
Speaking of test drives…
With 390kW at 6800rpm and 650Nm from 2000-4000rpm, there’s more than enough propulsion on offer in the Maserati Quattroporte GTS. But there’s also an overboost function that chumps it up to 710Nm from 2250-3500rpm for this engine that is from the same family as the Ferrari 488.
Maserati claims the highest specific output in the class, with 104kW per-litre and 171Nm per-litre of engine capacity. It claims 0-100km/h in just 4.7 seconds, which is the fastest of any four-door Maserati ever.
And look, it is fast. Like, properly fast.
It is an epic engine, honed by Ferrari, with a brilliant level of refinement at speed and massive roll-on acceleration. Plant your foot and the horizon approaches more rapidly than you may expect of a 5.2-metre-long sedan, but the QP GTS’s relatively low kerb weight – 1951 kilograms – certainly helps in that regard.
The gearbox is good, too, with the ZF-sourced eight-speeder offering precise shifts when left to its own devices, while in manual mode it is entirely involving and the gearbox will let the driver do what they want, without overruling on the upshifts.
The exhaust is a bi-modal system that is muffled to 4200rpm to “give a comfortable and discreet engine sound” in Normal mode, while Sport mode leaves the flow open. It isn’t open enough, though, with every CarAdvice tester finding the Quattroporte’s exhaust note falling short of the expected and desired cacophony of a model bearing the GTS badge.
It may not be as epic sounding as some other Maserati models, but it still offers lovely growl and burble on the overrun in Sport mode. You have to be fairly well up it for the rent to get the best sound, however...
Speaking of modes, there are quite a few. Normal is the default, then there’s Sport which changes the calibration of the gearing, throttle response, exhaust noise and electronic stability control, allowing some slip and wiggle. It is remarkably more rapid from a standstill in Sport mode.
There’s another mode called ICE (increased control and efficiency) that is designed for low-grip situations as it takes the more precise responses away from the driver while aiming to upshift sooner to save fuel. This is the mode you’d likely go for in day-to-day commuting.
Then there’s another mode for the suspension, with the adaptive damping firming up and the steering weight increasing to make it feel more connected to the road. It’s basically made for racetrack driving, not that you’d likely ever take your limo to the limit in that environment.
But we found that leaving that dampers on their default, softer setting and the steering in its lighter mode actually made for better intrinsic handling. With the Sport mode chosen for the drivetrain and the manual mode for the gearbox the Quattroporte GTS feels at its liveliest.
With those parameters chosen the ride isn't as firm and allows the body of the car to move around a bit more, making for a more fluid motion through linked corners.
Maserati has a reputation for making its cars driver-centric, so the steering has a lot of communication through the wheel. In fact, some people may find it unnerving just how much the wheel moves around in the hand over even the most minor bumps in the road surface.
However, the upside is that the steering is ultra-precise through corners, and at speed you can really feel what’s happening at the front axle. But while offering good feedback and being quite sharp at speed, the steering can be a little slow mid-corner.
There’s a brilliant amount of grip available from the Pirelli P-Zeros – our car was on the optional 21-inch wheels with grippy 245/35 front and 285/30 rear rubber.Stopping wasn’t a problem, either, with Brembo ventilated and cross-drilled rotors with six-piston front and four-piston rear brakes.
In more sedate driving in the suburbs, the stop-start system likes to hold on as long as possible without restarting, and it can get hot in the cabin as the fan continues but the air-conditioning cuts out. And over city bumps and lumps the suspension, in Normal mode, is reasonably well judged, but still nowhere near as plush as an S-Class, even on 21s.
The Maserati Quattroporte GTS has claimed fuel consumption of 10.7 litres per 100 kilometres, which is kept in check by that stop-start system and ICE mode. We saw nowhere near that, hovering in the low 20s around town and mid-teens on the highway, not that a potential buyer will likely care…
On the whole, the 2016 Maserati Quattroporte GTS is good in some ways, but something of a disappointment in other ways.
It makes the right noises, just not loud enough, and while it looks great in this specification, there are too many shortcomings in terms of the luxury factor that make it hard to justify the gargantuan asking price (again, bargain hard!). If you’re after a fast, luxury limousine there are better options out there from Germany, though we can totally understand if you stick with the Italian. Because, after all, it’s a Maserati.
Click on the Photos tab for more 2016 Maserati Quattroporte GTS images by Christian Barbeitos.