It is true what they say about a Maserati.
The echo from the exhaust tells a story that is 100 years old. From the first championship racing cars to some of the most alluring road machines. Along the way, there were some curiosities: the SM coupe co-developed with then-parent Citroen and the line of Biturbo models that defined the Trident’s lowest point in its history.
As part of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles family, Maserati was given new life. Today’s three-car lineup will soon be joined by new products to expand the brand’s image. Yet, the core of Maserati’s place in the pantheon of automobiles is to exude an air of luxury that is beyond the norm, envelop it with undeniable Italian style and performance only measured by the greatest machines in the world.
The one thing Maserati brings to the table is a history of making four-door flagship sedans. If you in a high position of government or business in Italy, you are chauffeur driven in a Quattroporte. This has been the tradition since the first one in 1963. Think of it as what you would see when a head of state arrives in a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7-Series, Audi A8, Jaguar XJ, Hyundai Equus or America’s own Cadillac mega-limousine. The Maserati Quattroporte is a calling card to power and greatness.
There is a small problem here. In America, we view Maseratis as drivers’ cars. They were defined by the 3500GT, the Mistral, the original Ghibli, the Indy, the Merak, all the way through to today’s GranTurismo coupe. Until recently, drivers discovered that the Quattroporte was also made for driver’s with performance and the feel of a GranTurismo.
A big luxury car with sports car manners? I had to find out for myself whether this is true.
Let me make this clear, I am a long time fan of the Quattroporte. This dates back to the third generation, around 1979. I was too stunned by its elegance and presence along with the trident badge up front. Its interior looked sumptuous with buttery smooth leather that was fit for the Italian president. In recent years, Maserati made the Quattroporte into a sports luxury tourer that still had the space for a tycoon or prime minister.
Today’s car was designed to regain focus in combining the best of both worlds — a sports tourer with great rear seat space and luxury that rivals other flagships. For this generation, the Quattroporte retains a lot of the brand’s design signatures: large low grille with the trident badge, slim headlamps that are integrated with the fenders, three side ports with chrome frames on each side of the car, a silhouette that is part sedan, part GranTurismo and a rear deck that is both subtle with traditional Maserati elements. The roof has a three-glass side profile that extenuates its limousine credentials, as well gives an air of flagship space inside.
Our Nero colored tester (black in Italian, by the way) frames the sportier side on the S Q4 model. 20-inch alloy wheels finish off the look with some of the red brake caliper housings making this big sedan look like it is ready for action on any road — and track.
Inside is perhaps one of the most tailored and comfortable interiors of its kind. The front seats are big comfy chairs with rich Italian leather that are perfectly bolstered. You are locked into the seat without complaint. The padding is absolutely balanced and simply cushy. Rear seat room is perfect for two adults with great head and legroom for over six-footers. The middle transmission hump may prevent a third adult to sit, unless all three are smaller than average. The rear footwells may be the challenge since the tunnel is not only high, but wide. Just like the front seats, the rear seats are equally comfortable.
Instrumentation and dash layout is similar to the Ghibli, which in itself is fantastic. I love the smallish dials for the speedometer and tachometer, but the center TFT screen is excellent. Customization is available from the steering wheel for excellent trip information and graphics. There was an issue with having the paddle shifters close to the steering wheel rim for big hands to take the wheel at 9-and-3, but there is a way around it. I wish the turn signal/wiper stalk was a bit further back from the left paddle — just minute complaints.
In the middle is Maserati Touch Control, one of the best infotainment screens in the business. It is simply an 8.4-inch touch screen with great big graphics, including navigation. Voice commands and redundant switches on the steering wheel simply make the MTC work well. Once you mastered the shifter for the automatic and worked your way around the cabin, then you are in full control of one of the most pleasurable places to command a vehicle from. It is simply one of the best sedan interiors in the world.
Once you settled in to take command of the Quattroporte, a push of the button to the left of steering column will fire up the Ferrari-developed 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6. With 404 horsepower on tap, it is one of the smoothest engines of its kind, not to mention it is very responsive without any turbo lag. Making things smoother is a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission — again, one of the best transmissions of its kind. You do not feel any shifts, but they are very quick. There is a sports and manual mode for better shift control from the paddles on the steering column.
Being it is the S Q4, the Quattroporte’s all-wheel drive system is simply great. As it was tested in snowy surfaces, the system sends power to all wheels to ensure nominal slip. I could not imagine having a Quattroporte without this all-wheel drive system. It also helped to have Pirelli Sottozero 3 winter tires to make things easier to manage in the snow.
What struck me about the S Q4 is the notion of complete balance and control. This sedan weighs 4,610 pounds. That may seem heavy to a lot of us, but it is surprising light in feel. That twin-turbocharged V6 does a magnificent job of propelling all of that weight effortlessly. Not to mention, acceleration is very brisk. Maserati states that the S Q4 goes from 0–60 in 4.8 seconds. I can attest that this Quattroporte can really fly.
Then, there’s the rumble. You do not feel it physically, but you can hear it. Turbocharged engines do not rumble, but this one does! This beautiful soundtrack is alive, it brings character to this big wonderful flagship. That noise from the engine, as filtered through the exhaust, is what makes this Quattroporte rock! Believe me, it is pure rock ‘n’ roll with digital remastering. That is not a bad thing!
It is worth reminding everyone that this is Maserati’s flagship sedan. To be a great flagship, it must have the best balance between a smooth comfortable ride and superior handling. When on smooth surfaces, the Quattroporte is perfect with excellent dampening keeping things well-balanced. You will feel some potholes and cracks, but the suspension gets back to work to recover quickly as if you did not feel a thing. Going through the curves in normal mode provides some feeling of lean and roll, but in practice, the Quattroporte kept flat with the road. Put it into sport, and the dampers tighten up. While you gain more control through the curves, the ride quality becomes a bit firm. When it is driven on cracked and potholed surfaces you will feel the feedback, but not enough to jar you from your seat.
Steering is sharp and reactive. On-center is OK, but that could be fixed by putting the drive mode into sport or manual. In those two modes, steering feel tightens up and keeps the wheel dead center when going forward. The thick rimmed wheel is simply the right size to command the road, not too big and not too small. Braking is superb. Stopping power is excellent in any kind of traction situation, even with the ABS system keeping the Quattroporte in line on snowy surfaces. Expect short and sharp stops in normal, panic, and winter situations.
The pro tip for driving the Quattroporte: If you just want to cruise and enjoy the drive, keep it in normal. However, if you feel like attacking the nearest curvy road, put it into sport or manual.
In terms of fuel economy, the S Q4 shows a combined rating of 18 MPG based on current EPA standards. In my short stint in the Quattroporte, I turned 17.4 MPG — close enough even in cold conditions.
The Quattroporte S Q4 is priced from $106,900. This example came with upgrades and options, bringing the sticker price to $119,000. There is another model to consider: the GTS. With 523 horsepower from a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V8, it could be yours from $140,500. The GTS only comes with rear wheel drive.
Which brings me to this thought: So what if it is priced over $100,000? So what if it does not have the rear leg room of a Mercedes-Maybach S 600? So what if it only gets the same fuel economy as a big SUV? And, so what if it is not as quiet and serene as more discriminating luxury car buyers want?
The Maserati Quattroporte fulfills the want of an engaging, commanding, powerful, quick, fast, and luxurious flagship sedan that will satisfy heads of state and enthusiasts alike. It is the kind of sedan that you would be proud to own and not care what anyone thinks, except they’ll think you are the most awesome person in the room…any room.
And, frankly, I love this car. It is absolutely spot on for my ideal flagship sedan.