Thursday morning surfaced with a couple of firsts. One, my first ever helicopter ride and two, the first time anyone had tested the Quattroporte S on UAE roads. The adventure had an unforgettable quality right from the start as we set out on a coast-to-coast drive of the new Masearti six-cylinder…
As we moved back and waited for the centrifugally raked up dust to settle, tales of tortuous moments in helicopters shared by sadistic fellow journalists at the breakfast table remained clear in my mind skies, as a distasteful accompaniment to Ritz-Carlton’s sumptuously laid out fare. Boarding a helicopter for the first time in my life, I contemplated in vain the possibility of choosing to have driven down to Fujairah in the Maserati crew’s Gran Turismo instead, but it was too late to stick to familiar grounds.
Taking out my Nikon more as an essential distraction rather than an enthusiastic accomplice to record my first helicopter flight, I soon realized that things were smoother than I anticipated on that breezy morning. The chopper ride was far from ‘choppy’ and the sights were closer than any airborne experience had so far provided!
Driving from Fujairah Airport to the Waldorf Astoria in Ras Al Khaimah, as I took over the wheel midway, it felt like the next episode of a series after my still-clear-as-daylight experience of the Maserati Quattroporte GTS with its phenomenal 3.8L eight cylinder powered drive I enjoyed only a month ago. With 530 hp and 710 Nm torque on over-boost, it was one of the most powerful machines I had driven recently.
Well, with its 3.0 L engine short of two cylinders, this was bound to be much slighter in comparison – but wait a minute, what is this? How dare does the new Quattroporte S communicate in the same elite language as its superior and why isn’t much of the pleasure lost in trimmed-down mechanical translation? It hardly takes a few minutes of steady acceleration and a couple of corners to realize that the new V6 engine can actually leave the driver as complacent and confident as in the GTS version!
The Maserati Quattroporte is essentially the same car, in all its dimensions and dynamics, save the size of the engine and the wheels. The eight cylinder runs on 20-inch wheels while the six-cylinder satisfies with its 19 ground-bound rotors. Right from the famed radiator grille to the dynamic rear spoilers and the sweet side lines, the car is essentially the same frame and chassis – weighing just 40 kg less than the 1900 kg QP V8 (kerb weight).
410 bhp and 550 Nm of torque is more than what you expect from any 3.0 L engine and with a record of 5.1 sec to touch the 100 km mark, chances are, it will require none other than its V8 sibling to leave you behind from the start on a short stretch.
Handcrafted precision… near perfect
There are several options in the mainstream for you to enjoy a powerful and comfortable ride. But there are few that deliver the pleasure of heavy-handed stability and handcrafted precision as the Maserati Quattroporte. The sixth generation Quattroporte relies on the support act of the ZF eight-speed transmission – a slick performer that can effortlessly handle emotions.
This is not to say that everything is perfect with the new QP. It does show its heavy resistance that is but a pleasure to overcome across sharp bends, especially because of the wind-tunnel perfected aerodynamics of the rear that develops a down force that adds to the stability. (CX = .31) The lift off is slower than you expect but the torque that is available even before rotations touch the 2000 mark and continues well over the halfway mark gives the car all the power it needs to catch up and never look back. That is when you recall the origins of this 3.0 L twin turbo engine in Maranello at the Ferrari stables!
The ride is mildly firm and the feedback pretty distinct but the passenger will appreciate a spacious cabin that is rather quiet for a sporty sedan. But then, it would have been a pity if the nuances of acoustic undercurrents would be lost on you. So, the engine sounds are mercifully let inside the comfortable cabin and you are allowed to wonder, how could a V6 sound so uncannily similar to a powerful V8, complete with the bangs and guttural rumble!
The Bowers & Wilkins acoustics inside the cabin is impressive enough, but as I noticed most of the journos didn’t even bother with it, in the wake of the distinctive Maserati sound that follows the car around. The heated seats were available on both my drives – I had switched to the silver Maser soon after I had to give up the Bianco (white) – the massage and the high and mighty paddle shifts were options, we were told.
The long and short of the Maserati Quattroporte S
If you are able to overlook the slowdown at the start – it lasts only a fraction of the drive when compared to a lifetime of pleasure once past the brief warm up – and the absence of the crazy cannons unleashed by the V8, you will appreciate the Maserati Quattroporte as a viable option for the extravagant V8, especially with its one-fifth less fuel demand.
The heavy hand demanded by the very manual-feeling steering on curves could be a turn off for easygoing drivers but Maser patrons will find it engaging as usual. Just as the Maser maniacs will learn to appreciate the five modes of transmission shift from refined to almost brutal! For those who admire the natural feel of a Maserati’s handcrafted drive dynamics, and is always in awe of the trident’s design elements starting with the gaping grille, the new Quattroporte S is a true blood sibling to the overwhelming Maserati Quattroporte GTS.
Test car pricing: AED 410,000 to 427,000
Courtesy: Maserati Middle East & North Africa
Event: Maserati Quattroporte S Coast to Coast Drive