A man’s attitude is apparent on his brows, and a car’s in its steering. Consider that of the Maserati Quattroporte, which relishes a manly tussle before easing into corners on the power grid of a 530hp engine; or the bulwark like design lines at the rear; or even the doors that pull shut under its own weight. The Maserati Quattroporte feels, drives and is heavy and leaves impressions that bear heavily on any car enthusiast’s mind. Why, even its remote key feels heavy in your hand!
UPSIDE: Very powerful, Good highway economy, Involved and satisfying drive, Improved cabin space
FLIPSIDE: Heavy handling quality, Thinly differentiated drive modes, Prohibitive price
THE PRICE: Starts at AED 525,000. Test car AED 585,000
Now 5263 mm long, the new Quattroporte is not a mere maverick sport sedan anymore. It is a true contender to the ‘large and powerful’ domain that already has flagprints of the BMW 7-series, the Audi S8 or even the Lexus LS F-Sport.
The gaping grill in front is as aggressive as ever but sneers less, more to my taste. Along the cat claws on the hood lines, the hood nosedives onto the grill, flanked by two horseshoe shaped LED lights.
The three diagonal air vents just in front of the A pillars are a signature Maserati touch, while the character line ascends in a curve that cuts through the fuel tank lid all the way to the rear lamps, above which a very elegant lip spoiler sits. The almost coupe like shape of the rear half with its billowing haunches above the wheels adds to the sportiness of the design.
During its road lab days, the Quattroporte should have found it hard to cover up its identity, merely by masking its tridents or simply camouflaging it during its prelaunch tests. It is written all over, just like the signature of Pininfarina, even without actually having to flaunt it.
Cabin and controls
The cabin is sumptuously adorned with snaky smooth off-white leather which feels as deliciously creamy as it looks while both the dash and the door sides are generously fitted with wood panelling. The tunnel console goes all the way up to the rear seats but, as expected, the centre seat is not much to sit on. Those seats are positioned sportily low, just sparing enough view for the rear passenger through the rising window line.
The reasonably large sunroof, even though it doesn’t extend into the rear cabin, lights up the cabin in luscious white. The seats just stop short of touching the ceiling with a rear windscreen design that look disastrous for the driver. But that isn’t the case; actually the rear view is pretty good.
The rear view camera pops up in the large screen with blue tones – perhaps the only evidence of the Italian’s American connection – the tie with Chrysler. This is one European car with the fuel tank on its left. Likewise, the start button is on the left hand side of the steering keeping with an old racing tradition – you start the Maserati with your left hand!
The Quattroporte brings psychedelic visions of those beautiful girls with graceful steps in a circus, with pythons around their neck. The car is indeed marked by graceful manoeuvres and the python is the steering itself – big, smooth, rich and heavy in its manoeuvres.
This Maserati is marked, even more than comfort, by the stunning looks, the unbridled power and the unlikely fun quotient that belies such a heavy car. But then, the Maserati Quattroporte has a class-leading weight to power ratio of 3.6 kg per horsepower. All 1,900kgs makes itself felt as you lug along in many manoeuvres but it also helps the car retain its poise in curves, bends, straights and six lanes.
It takes gracefulness to a different level altogether. Just switch the traction control off and you could actually perform the swan lake as a ballerina going round and round on an ice rink – only requiring a measured release of the steering to maintain its shiftng poise.
Among all the powerful sedans I’ve driven, the Maserati has a quality claimed only by handmade cars. The occasional surges make it feel really natural in its power delivery – demanding to be driven with intuition and involvement. Inspite of that, the 8 speed transmission was reasonably smooth all through the drive.
Even though I managed to touch 7.5kms per litre on highways, the overall fuel economy can steeply fall close to five for most part of the drive. But seriously, all that I cared for was the simply amazing fact that an engine with a displacement lower than 3,800cc could produce an enormous 530hp and 710 Newton metres of torque –which amounts to a claimed 4.7 second arrival at a 100km per hour.
There is a whole series of driving modes to choose from. I-C-E is all about increased control and efficiency, while the sport mode changes the whole characteristics of the Quattroporte including its powerful vocals. What remains a distant powerful hum till the time the sports mode is engaged transforms into the unmistakably menacing growl of a V8.
With over 10 cm longer in wheelbase and almost 7 cm wider, the Quattroporte is now not only about sporty drives but luxurious rear rides as well. Wives finally get a chance to call their men a ‘sport’ rather than a selfish chauvinist!
Whichever mode you drive in, the Maserati Quattroporte is not a silent car. True to its sporty nature, the cabin lets in the sound of the motor but not so much as the wind blowing outside and the tire noise. Distinguished by its sound again is a Bowers and Wilkins speaker system which is of top class audiophile quality.
The Essential Maserati Quattroporte 2014
The new Maserati Quattroporte is among the lighter cars in the segment yet the drive quality is overwhelmingly heavy. It employs a smaller engine than most rivals yet remains one of the most powerful. Further, there is a certain largeness about the new car which is evident in your grip itself. Not just in the steering but also in weilding the Maserati trademark paddle shifts, which look and feel large like a samurai’s sword. You’ll know what I mean even as you pull the door lever to step out. They too are outlandishly sized.
There are many cars known for their power, handling, luxury and design. Yet, with its incomparable panache, this is one car in the entire ‘motoring-dom’ that belongs to the ramp just as it does to the track or road.
Drive Courtesy: Maserati Middle East
Pictures: Sudeep Koshy/Supplied