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Friday, December 14, 2012

Maserati Quattroporte (2013 onwards)

What – Maserati Quattroporte
Where – Nice, France
Date – December 2012
Price – £110,000 (including 20% VAT)
Available – mid 2013
Key rivals –BMW 7 Series, Audi A8, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Porsche Panamera, Aston Martin Rapide

Maserati’s latest four-door targets the luxury saloon elite but its strengths still lie in the way it looks and goes.

We like – Blistering pace, better handling than a two-tonne saloon has any right to, space, heart-warming design
We don’t like – Suspension noise and firmness, small details that let the design down

Read more Maserati car reviews
MSN Cars' best luxury saloons
Gallery: Maserati Quattroporte 2013

This would be a very important car for Maserati. It’s an all-new Quattroporte, the sixth generation of the Italian marque’s simplistically named four-door saloon car, and it arrives 50 years after the 1963 original. It really is all-new too, we’re talking completely new twin-turbo engines, a new 8-speed auto gearbox and an advanced new aluminium architecture. Yes, the new Quattroporte would be a very important car for Maserati but it’s not. It’s an absolutely crucial one.

There’s even more riding on this Quattroporte than immediately meets the eye and the reason lies in Maserati’s master plan. This is a brand that’s going places, or it will be if the Quattroporte and the series of models due to follow it live up to their billing. Maserati confidently expects to be selling 50,000 cars a year globally by 2015. In 2011 it sold 6,200 units with the old Quattroporte its top seller. Now you begin to get a feel for how much is riding on this luxury saloon.

Just as the metaphorical weight of expectation has been piled on to the Quattroporte, the physical weight has been lifted off. This car is substantially bigger than its predecessor gaining 105mm of extra rear legroom and 80 litres more boot space but it’s lighter, aluminium substituted in components through the car shaves nearly 100kg from the old-timer’s kerb weight. A twin turbo 407hp 3.0-litre V6 engine option will arrive later and all-wheel-drive models are available in other markets but not destined for the UK.      

Maserati Quattroporte 2013 (© Maserati)


The V8 Quattroporte tips the scales at 1,900kg and with its 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 developing 523hp, that makes for a power to weight ratio of 264hp per tonne. It’s a full-size luxury saloon but after the briefest squint at those numbers you know it’s apocalyptically quick.

The official numbers say 0-62mph takes 4.7s and the top speed is 191mph. The originally Quattroporte re-wrote the record books in the early 60s and this car reclaims its title as the world’s fastest series production saloon.

What does that mean on the road? Well, we obviously didn’t scratch the surface of the Quattroporte’s maximum velocity but even at legal speeds it feels extremely fast. The advanced aerodynamics that make the 300kph barrier breachable in safety produce reassuring stability during fast motorway travel.

It’s a full-size luxury saloon but... it’s apocalyptically quick

 At lower speeds, it’s the engine’s torque that defines progress. There’s so much muscle low down that the car feels docile most of the time but you can feel the potential under your foot and when you do approach the rev limiter you know you’re really flying.

With eight speeds to choose from and that mountain of shove, the automatic gearbox invariably has an easy time of it. Manual changes are swift and the metal paddles feel good to the fingers but you sense they won’t get a lot of use from Quattroporte clientele. There’s the odd extra sonic treat, a soft exhaust rasp or throttle blip on down changes, to go with the deep gargle under hard throttle but this engine never sings like the sweet normally-aspirated unit in the old car.   

Maserati Quattroporte 2013 (© Maserati)


The trick in a big car with sporting pretensions is making it feel small and the Maserati engineers have scored a direct hit with the Quattroporte. A perfect 50/50 weight distribution in the rear-wheel-drive models helps. As does precise steering and really talks the talk, transmitting little shimmies over the bumps and more weight as the suspension loads up in corners. Together with the excellent Brembo-developed Dual Cast brakes this gives the Quattroporte a lovely alertness and agility on tight roads.

...the Maserati engineers have scored a direct hit with the Quattroporte

The suspension system utilises Maserati’s Skyhook adjustable dampers and plays its part in achieving the Quattroporte’s athleticism. Body roll is well contained and the nose grips hard through corners but you can detect some flex in the 5.2m long body during fast direction changes. 

From a comfort point of view things are less rosy. Surface lumps aren’t soaked up with quite the same oily smoothness you get in the top luxury barges. Opting for the softer damper setting doesn’t have a huge impact and the ride can clang and jitter noisily on bad surfaces.  

Maserati Quattroporte 2013 (© Maserati)


The long flowing lines of the Quattroporte’s dash look great. The fascia is dominated by a great plank of wood that, by its size and shape, could have been sourced from a surfboard manufacturer. Simple, crisp instruments shine out from behind the wheel and buttons are kept to a minimum with most of the minor controls bundled into the touchscreen infotainment system. The abundance of lacquered wood might not be to everyone’s taste but it adds to the warmth and character of the interior and there’s a raft of personalisation options so the unconvinced can get shot of it.

Despite an impressive design, there are areas where Maserati’s four-door could use some more polish. Slam connoisseurs will be disappointed as the Quattroporte’s lightweight doors don’t close with any great solidity and the plastic on the dash air vents feels cheap too. Storage space is limited, the electric seats move with a jerky motion and the indicators tick-tock so loudly it’s like your brain surgeon mislaid his watch during that last operation. These are small factors but factors the German competition gets right.

Cutting fuel consumption and emissions was key in Maserati’s move to lightweight aluminium

 From a practical standpoint the car impresses. The front seats sit as good as they look, rear legroom is excellent and headroom is plentiful in all four berths. A five-seat rear bench is available as an option and this splits 60/40 to further increase the 530-litre boot capacity. 

Cutting fuel consumption and emissions was a key consideration in Maserati’s move to lightweight aluminium and smaller twin-turbo engines with this Quattroporte. The result is just under 24mpg on the combined cycle and emissions of 274g/km. Considering the car’s size and supercar rivalling performance, that isn’t bad.

All Quattroportes get six airbags and Maserati’s latest MSP stability control programme. You can’t get the mind-boggling array of advanced driver aids that accompany many luxury saloons these days but the brakes are phenomenal, which counts for a lot.

Maserati Quattroporte 2013 (© Maserati)


Maserati Quattroporte - four stars

The luxury saloon market has been a difficult place to do business in recent years with lots of private customers having their heads turned by less stuffy and increasingly opulent SUVs or, to a lesser extent, four-door coupes. The Maserati Quattroporte could be the kind of model to draw some of them back.

It might not replicate its predecessor’s Pininfarina styling elegance or its free-breathing V8 soundtrack but buyers do get a considerably more rounded product that still looks and goes like a Maserati should.

The ride can lack composure and the final layers of polish that the German alternatives delight in smothering on are sometimes missing but the Italians sure can make a car appeals on an emotional level and they’ve done it again here.

The Quattroporte is now closer than ever to the luxury saloon alternatives but its soul still stands out. Many owners won’t do the driving but there’ll be bored chauffeurs across the globe casually dropping Maserati brochures where their bosses might see them. This hugely important car for Maserati is also a very good one.

Maserati Quattroporte 2013

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Gallery: Maserati Quattroporte 2013

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