Test location: Sicily, Italy
GPS: 37.59999, 14.01535
Maserati Quattroporte GTS
The current Quattroporte has so far been a more luxurious, less driver-focused machine than its predecessor. Has a facelift changed that?
The saloon car with the world’s most exotic name for something as prosaic as ‘four-door’ has just had a mid-life facelift. That means a subtle resculpting of the front and rear, a reworked interior, minor calibration tweaks to gearbox and engine, and new GranSport (sporty) and GranLusso (more luxurious) trim options. The UK line-up comprises a diesel (V6, 271bhp), the S (twin-turbo V6 petrol, 404bhp) and the rangetopping GTS, as driven here.
The £110,405 GTS’s Ferrari-built twin-turbo V8 produces the same 523bhp at 6800rpm as before, and despite 479lb ft from 2250rpm (on overboost, and also unchanged), it’s entirely happy with being wrung out right to the limiter. It’s an oilysmooth engine, but its note won’t make you grin from the moment you twist the key. It is, however, capable of sending the Quattroporte GTS to 62mph in 4.7sec and on to 193mph.
ZF’s familiar eight-speed ‘HP70’ gearbox is still the sole transmission choice, with 100-millisecond shifts. It’s a great partner for the V8, and can be shifted manually either by sturdy, tactile metal paddles mounted on the steering column or via the central shift lever. It’ll let the engine headbutt the limiter in manual mode, but will also rather confusingly kick-down beyond a poorly defined point in the throttle-pedal’s arc.
Sitting behind the grille is now an active shutter that varies the airflow into the engine bay according to the engine’s requirements. This speeds up the cold-start procedure by closing, enables every model to have the same size radiator (saving money), and improves the airflow under the car by closing again at high speed. It also makes for a ten per cent reduction in aerodynamic drag, reducing the Cd to 0.28.
Inside, the reworked centre console features a new, higherresolution infotainment screen, and the leather chairs and general fit and finish are as sumptuous as you’d hope for, given the price tag. For those being driven, rear leg-room is very generous, but occupants appreciably over six foot in stature will find the headlining rather close in the front seats, and brushing their head while sitting in the rear.
Dynamically, the big Maserati is much the same as before. It all starts promisingly at low speed, aided by impressive refinement that new ‘cavity’ sound insulation has improved still further. The steering has real weight to it, and the Quattroporte is now an outsider in retaining hydraulic power assistance.
That sounds like a good omen, but the benefits aren’t there in practice: there’s a surprisingly pronounced ‘sneeze factor’ around the straightahead, and then unnatural ramping up of weight thereafter. There’s little to be gleaned from the rack during cornering and it also suffers from kickback over poor surfaces, compounded by a ride that can be confused by the same challenge, the variable Skyhook dampers stumbling over larger intrusions that impact far too much into the cabin.
What remains is a very different car to the old ’03-’12 Quattroporte, and a much better limousine than that car ever was. But it’s also much less of a sporting drive, with a far from ebullient character and a reduced presence, and while these latest improvements are certainly worthwhile, the same flaws remain in a luxury-limo class with some outstandingly talented members. Those rivals include everything from the Aston Martin Rapide S at the upper end to the recently revealed new Porsche Panamera (see Radar) and the BMW M5. It’s a disparate market but one thing that links them all is a breadth of talent that the Maserati can’t quite match without the old car’s charm to call upon.
+ Still pretty, even more refined, and still with Specification a V8
- Off the pace dynamically
Evo rating 5
, 3798cc, twin-turbo / CO2 250g/km
Power 523bhp @ 6800rpm
Torque 479lb ft @ 2250-3500rpm
0-62mph 4.7sec (claimed)
Top speed 193mph (claimed)
Weight 1900kg (280bhp/ton)
Basic price £110,405