ROAD TEST: The Maserati Quattroporte, High-speed Italian luxury

Maserati Quattroporte
Maserati Quattroporte
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One day, we might see a Ferrari with four seats but in the meantime, there’s always Maserati’s Quattroporte.

A large and very prestigious saloon with a heritage and sense of spirit missing from its German rivals, it offers a very Latin take on luxury.

Creating the equivalent of a four-door Ferrari is no easy undertaking and it’s taken Maserati nearly half a century to perfect its Quattroporte model (this the Italian for ‘four-door’). Turn the key and there’s a lengthy starter whine before the V8 powerplant borrowed from Maserati’s Gran Turismo coupe springs into life, then settles back into a more subdued but still meaningful rumble. If there’s a better-sounding engine in the world, then we can’t think of it. It comes either as a 400bhp 4.2-litre unit if you go for the standard version or in 425bhp 4.7-litre guise if you opt for the S, with a more focused 4.7-litre 433bhp Sport GT S model on offer if you really are set on sacking the chauffeur. No turbodiesel of course – that would be very un-Maserati. Nor would this deliver the glorious soundtrack you’ll enjoy as you sail up towards the rev limiter, this S model propelled to 60 in just 5.4s on the way to a top speed of 174mph. It walks the walk as well as talking the talk this car, too. You simply don’t expect a Mercedes S-Class or BMW 7 Series-sized luxury saloon to be able to attack corners in the way that this one can. Superb body control plays a big part in this, the Maserati’s adaptive dampers sensing body movements and reacting instantly to keep the car steady through the bends with eager turn-in. There’s terrific grip and if you want to disable the MSP traction and stability control system and indulge in tail-out antics, then you can. The penalty for all this is a rather un-limo-like ride, but it’ll be acceptable to most unless they either select the standard versions’ rather unnecessary tauter ‘Sport’ setting or perhaps choose the Sport GT S model with its 25% stiffer all-round set-up.

You can’t really go too far wrong whichever Quattroporte model you select, unless that is, you make the mistake of selecting the ‘DuoSelect’ automated manual gearbox on the entry-level version. This works fine if you select the gears yourself using the lovely paddles behind the steering wheel but left in automated ‘Drive’ mode, it struggles to move this Maserati in the smooth dignified way you’d expect from a luxury saloon. Which is why nearly all buyers go for the fully Automatic model, with its ZF gearbox mounted front rather than rearwards. Blue rather than red cam covers will identify this to your workshop but given that it still offers the same six-speed paddle arrangement, the only real difference you’ll notice is the lack of jerky progress when you leave it to its own devices. Maserati offer a choice of a 4.2-litre 400bhp unit (in the entry-level model), a 4.7-litre 425bhp engine (in this S version) and a 4.7-litre 433bhp powerplant (in the flagship Sport GT S variant), an all-petrol saloon model range. If you’re going to spend £80,000-£90,000 on a luxury saloon, there’s a strong argument for getting something unique – something like this.