I recently moved overseas and subsequently had to buy a new car. My wife asked me to buy a practical and safe family car that wouldn’t attract too much attention, so I bought a Maserati... She wasn’t impressed.
In my defence, it does have four doors, four wheels and a boot. There are a few token airbags somewhere, and a fuel gauge to remind you that you are killing the planet. There are ISOFIX points for my kid, rear parking sensors, and other pointless stuff like refrigerated compartments and reclining rear seats.
More importantly, it has a 4.7-litre Ferrari-derived V8 and sounds like an angelic Italian orgy, it looks better than any German (car or otherwise), and can massage me while I attract envious stares from people that regret their pragmatic decisions.
The Maserati QP-S competes with the Mercedes S Class and BMW 7 Series. I admit I didn't seriously consider competing cars because they just didn't seem as special. The 750i was sublime, but soulless in comparison. When I think of German cars I think of Angela Merkel – she seems logical, functional, reliable, intelligent, maybe even pragmatic. However, most people would rather bring a few girls home from one of Berlusconi's bunga bunga parties. You will probably get a nasty infection, but it will be memorable and you will brag about it. The QP-S is like the girl from the bunga bunga party.
Whether or not you believe the modern Maserati deserves its status in the general public, it attracts a lot of attention. That’s been the single biggest difference in my ownership experience versus other European cars I’ve owned. You are now 'the guy with the Maserati', for better or worse.
There are real downsides. The car squeaks and occasionally reminds you it is a nine-year-old Italian car. The Bose infotainment system, although great for 2009, is very 2009, and the Bluetooth doesn't even have audio streaming without aftermarket adapters. Although this is the size of a 7 Series BMW, the boot is smaller than a 3 Series BMW. Yet, the biggest functional failure for me is that the rear seats don't fold down, so you can’t slide a surfboard through or get a bike in. There is no spare wheel (optional) and not even run-flat tyres (optional).
Within the first month of ownership, I had to install a new alternator (USD$2700) and I need to do the front ball joint (I’m afraid to ask). A biannual inspection and oil change is USD$2000, and many mechanics have refused to touch it. Many cars like this are secondary/weekend cars, and with irregular use there can be issues, even with meticulous service records.
However, as soon as you open the door, or turn the key, everything is forgiven. The interior is a real highlight. The leather is the best quality I have seen in any car so far, and everything screams high-end dead cow. It feels special, even if it feels a little bit old-school.
It is an incredibly comfortable place to be, and as long as you don't compare the switchgear to an Audi, you will be impressed. The seats hug you, and there is even a 'self-adjust' function, where air pockets inflate to fit around your body. Wind and road noise are really well controlled, but you can always hear the V8, and that’s the way it should be.
Acceleration is solid with 0–100km/h in 5.2 seconds, but more impressive is how linear and effortless it is. The car came with the best available multi-band radar detector to avoid speed traps (legal where I live), which can be handy. Fuel consumption is predictably high at over 14L/100km. There is no fancy cylinder deactivation or stop-start, just a thirsty V8 slowly killing the planet. Regardless, it pulls hard and you can’t hear the screams of the greenies over the engine note anyway.
The 2009 model was fitted with the six-speed ZF auto, rather than the DuoSelect transmission of earlier models. It was also the first time the 4.7-litre engine was available on the QP, and had updated infotainment, so it was a great year to target.
The auto-adjusting Skyhook suspension does a great job providing comfort and fun when required, but the steering is far too light for my taste. Aside from that, I personally think the balance between comfort and sport is spot on for this car's target market. When driven hard, it sits flat and balanced, and makes you feel like a demigod. Around town, it's very comfortable.
Rear leg room is excellent, access in and out painless, and overall it’s a perfectly functional and (very) luxurious daily drive.
The Maserati QP-S isn't perfect, but it is very special. It’s luxurious, relatively rare, sounds great, handles well, and is a functional daily drive (overlooking the lack of 60:40 folding seats). It’s missing technology, and being an older car it’s going to start having issues, but it’s gorgeous. The potential service/repair costs are built into the purchase price on the used market.
If you want to cart your kids around in something that feels exotic, love the sound of an Italian V8, or want to get divorced, this is your car. I suspect that in 10 years this car will still be as desirable as it is today. You could almost justify this car on practical grounds, but who are you kidding?