► MY18 Quattroporte tested
► Sharper styling and more tech
► Can it rival the best in the luxo-class?
Those with worldly awareness won't take long to work out that Maserati Quattroporte just stands for Maserati 'four-door', sounding much less exotic with an English accent than an Italian one.
Pronunciation and translation aside, the Quattroporte makes up for it with a glorious motor racing history, with indelible associations with the Targa Florio and two of Fangio's F1 titles – plus that trident badge is evocative for anyone with an automotive passion...
Tell me more about the updated Quattroporte
Maserati updates its cars with yearly upgrades rather than a comprehensive overhaul after a few years.
Last time, it was given a facelift of such subtle proportions that it was the motoring equivalent of Botox injections, specifically around the nose. But, now, the Quattroporte has been updated for 2018 with a look borrowed from the smaller Ghibli, featuring a grille inspired by the one found on the Alfieri concept car and much sharper lights and bumpers.
This sixth-generation Quattroporte does without the effortless grace of its predecessor but the sharper, more aggressively chamfered grille suits the rest of the Maserati's edgier styling.
Precious else has changed outside save for new bumper profiles and infill colours, depending on your preference for the GranSport or GranLusso packages – the former features large intakes in the bumper's flanks and the gloss black addenda, while the latter comes with more chrome and restraint.
Err, is that it?
No, of course not – but rein in your expectations to avoid disappointment. Maserati's latest multimedia display screen, complete with a rotary controller that operates in an iDrive-esque manner features, while the suite of electronic driver aids hitherto shunned by Maserati have been upgraded for level two autonomy.
The blindspot monitoring now features active blindspot assist, adaptive cruise now has a stop and go function called Highway Assist, autonomous emergency braking is present, the lane departure warning will now actively keep you in lane, and there's also traffic sign recognition all as standard.
And that grille's not just there to delight aesthetes, as lurking behind the Levante-like vertical vanes are aerodynamic shutters to improve the QP's slipperiness, shaving 0.03 from its drag coefficient in the process – to the benefit of both performance and economy.
The truth is few – if any – will be thrilled by technology that's readily available on a humdrum family hack, let alone a luxury saloon costing north of £90,000. In comparison, the S-Class and latest 7-series feel otherworldly in terms of the sheer volume of on-board mod cons.
Presumably the Quattroporte delights in other ways?
Luxury saloons typically lend themselves to wafting the wealthy along sumptuously on the back seat much better than they do at tracing B-road topography, but the Maserati Quattroporte makes a decent fist of tackling both requirements. Frustratingly, it manages neither at an expert level.
With the Skyhook suspension in Normal (read 'comfort') mode, the Maserati dials out jostly qualities, but it transmits more thuds to the passengers' posteriors than an alternative wearing a three-pointed star. In Sport setting, passengers will soon be aware of the inherent firmer edge – and the mode itself seems to only be a halfway point of how you'd expect a sport mode to feel.
Maserati has switched the hydraulic power steering system with an electronic one, though. The feedback to the driver still impresses, but the main justification for the change is for the new driver assistance system. It's clear to see how priorities are shifting for some...
British market Quattroportes send power exclusively to the rear wheels – left-hand drive regions are offered a four-wheel alternative – making it playful at the back end when sufficiently provoked. It's not as eager to wag its tail as the Jaguar XJ but the Maserati will allow you to rotate the car on the throttle with greater ease than its Germanic rivals.
We've still driven the Quattroporte S Q4, though. You know, for research purposes, and it does offer a reassuring level of grip and traction in trickier conditions. However, it's still quite playful when provoked. For the UK, though, it's unlikely you'll be taking full advantage of the all-wheel drive system very often anyway, even if the car was available on these shores.
Interior space is comfortably sufficient rather than palatial, with only a modest proportion of the Quattroporte's 5246mm enormity given over to passenger-carrying duties. The GranSport's front seats – replete with enhanced bolstering – are soothing and supportive and the Maserati's now more limousine-like in terms of cabin quietness courtesy of under-carpet air pockets and double-glazing.
Quieter? But the noise is part of the Maserati's charm!
Be still thy beating heart: while tyre road and wind noise are subdued, the mechanical symphony as conducted by the Modenese Philharmonic is still very much central to the Quattroporte's performance.
The S has received a power boost from 404bhp up to 424bhp from the 3.0-litre twin-turbo Ferrari-derived V6. It delivers a delightfully mechanical rasp as it goes quickly about its business. While it's not as deep or throaty as the GTS's V8, it's a neck-hair erector nonetheless.
Thanks to 428lb/ft of virtually lag-less torque, 62mph's chalked up from a standing start in 5.0 seconds (4.8 for the S Q4), while the Maserati will top out at a claimed 177mph. No 155mph sop here. Economy and emissions are marginally improved, too, at 29mpg and 223g/km of CO2.
All that go is transferred to the back axle (while S Q4 version can transfer up to 50% to the front) with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
It's suitably slick at ratio swapping at higher speeds, aided by deliciously tactile steering column paddles, but through an urban crawl it hesitates when left to its own devices, sending some shunts through the car.
We're also not especially fond of the lever itself – it's all too easy to put the car in Park when you actually want reverse.
Pore over the statistics and the Maserati Quattroporte is unlikely to vanquish the competition whichever parameter you select, which explains the proliferation of S-Classes the world over.
Fortunately, the Quattroporte's appeal is one to the heart rather than the mind. It remains a very good luxury saloon with sporty intent, just not the best. Factor in exclusivity, and that feel-good-factor of owning a Maserati, and your head will soon get on board.
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