Update of Quattroporte brings greatly expanded range of flavours to Maserati’s big sedan, and driver-aid tech that’s at last catching up with the Germans.
WHAT IS IT?
XL luxury limo that’s Maserati’s four-door flagship
WHY WE’RE TESTING IT
To find out if the MY2017 update brings worthwhile improvements
Long-wheelbase versions of the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class
THE WHEELS VERDICT
Updates to the Maserati Quattroporte don’t alter its driving character or eradicate its flaws, but improved driver aids and lusher-than-ever interiors in all models except Diesel make the big Italian more attractive. It still makes competitors from BMW and Mercedes-Benz seem a little sterile and soulless.
PLUS: Dramatic drivetrain; handling; distinctive Italianate interior fit-out
MINUS: Stiff ride in ‘Sport’ mode; ergonomic faults; lacks Germanic quality
THE WHEELS REVIEW
DOESN’T time fly when you’re revitalising a brand? It doesn’t seem so very long ago that Maserati was launching its sixth-generation Quattroporte. But that was back in 2013, and the big sedan is due for an update.
In the intervening years the Italian brand has pumped out two all-new models in fairly quick succession – the Ghibli sedan and the Levante, Maserati’s first SUV. Both are built on the short-wheelbase version of the clean-sheet architecture that premiered with the Quattroporte. Maserati sales have soared as a result. So what has Maserati done to revamp the model that initiated its renaissance?
What they haven’t done is make major changes to the car’s mechanicals. There are two modifications worth mentioning, neither major enough to significantly affect the way the Quattroporte drives: An electrically actuated air shutter in front of the car’s radiator and tidier undertray cut aero drag by 10 percent, enough to yield slightly higher top speeds; and a small power increase (14kW) for the non-S version of Maserati’s 3.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V6.
The focus for this update was instead on adding driver-aid technologies, bringing the big Italian into the slipstream of its obvious German rivals. It now has, for example, adaptive cruise control with idle-stop (which works well). And the system’s radar, working with a video camera, enables new autonomous braking and collision-warning systems. The updated Quattroporte isn’t in the same league as the almost-autonomous S-Class, but it’s way closer than it was.
The Quattroporte also gains a new 8.3-inch touchscreen display and a redesigned centre console housing a stacked pair of rotary controllers, a kind of a two-storey iDrive arrangement that was introduced in the Levante.
Maserati’s biggest move with the update is the introduction of two new model grades, GranLusso and GranSport, that combine a number of exterior and interior features, providing two distinctly different ways to upgrade the V6 models. At least, that’s the way it will work in other parts of the world.
For the Australian and New Zealand markets, the petrol V6 models – in base 257kW and 302kW S versions – will be imported only in GranLusso or GranSport grades. So, too, will the range-topping GTS, with its stonking 390kW twin-turbo 3.8-litre V8. Only the Diesel model, with its 202kW VM Motori-made single-turbo 3.0-litre V6, will miss out. Even though Maserati builds it in both GranLusso and GranSport forms for other markets, neither will be offered here.
GranSport combines standard 21-inch wheels with an exterior look that puts the emphasis on visual aggression. A package of carbon adornments that are optional in Europe will be standard here. Inside the Quattroporte, GranSport means specific new sports seats and steering wheel, and lashings of piano-black wood.
GranLusso rolls instead on 20-inch wheels, and is offered with Maserati’s exclusive Ermenegildo Zegna silk interior, open-pore dashboard wood and a steering wheel with a wooden rim insert.
The updated Quattroporte line-up is scheduled to go on sale in Australia in December. Prices are yet to be fixed, though rises are likely to reflect the richer standard content.
Wheels sampled the updated Quattroporte in both GranLusso and GranSport specs. The latter is the better looker, especially in white, which highlights the exterior alterations to advantage.
While the GranSport’s big rims noticeably improve proportion and stance, they do nothing for ride comfort, which is too stiff in Dynamic driving mode on the bumpy roads in Sicily where the launch was staged. Normal mode, in contrast, made the big Maserati feel distinctly ‘boaty’ over the crests and troughs of the choppy blacktop outside Palermo.
The Quattroporte remains a more alive and engaging drive than the big Germans, which tend to feel remote and hyper-technical from behind the wheel, but the update hasn’t dealt with some of its flaws; the gear selector lever is a horror, and the awkward arrangement of shift paddles and stalks sprouting from its steering column could easily be improved.
Maybe next update…
Model: Maserati Quattroporte S GranSport
Engine: 2979cc V6 (60°), dohc, 24v, twin-turbo
Max power: 302kW @ 5500rpm
Max torque: 550Nm @ 1750-5000rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Kerb weight: 1860kg
0-100km/h: 5.1sec (claimed)
Fuel economy: 9.6L/100km (EU)
Price: $250,000 (estimated)
On sale: December