04.08.2005 Irreverent US automotive news portal - Jalopnik - get to grips with the Maserati Quattroporte, and tell it exactly how they see it

As six-figure executive cars go, Maserati’s latest-generation Quattroporte is a viscount among the workaday rich. It’s a sedan of lovers; of beautifully tailored suits and perfectly prepared filets; of round Barolos and operatic tenors; of sights, sounds and interactions and flourishes. Put another way, it’s a lush, thoroughly Italian conveyance in a field of sternly efficient, luxury people movers. Plus, it corners like a Ferrari.

It’s a special kind of sedanista who’ll welcome the Quattroporte’s most un-sedan-like of traits - that is, its peerless road manners and chilling, race-day growl under hard acceleration. Maserati’s literally named four-door demands the attention of one who will massage its six-speed Maserati DuoSelect (MDS) electrohydraulic transmission manually, using its F1-style paddles. It rewards those who keep the sport-mode button plunged incessantly, and who ply the torquey, high-revving V8 for all it’s worth — single-digit miles-per-gallon be dammed to limousine hell.

That’s because the Quattroporte is happiest – and most satisfying – when asked to supply the kind of hands-on control and road feedback most buyers of luxury sedans would rather leave to the automotive help. Sure, those for whom luxury is a state of leisure can switch the DuoSelect into auto-shift mode, soften the electronically controlled suspension (aka Skyhook), and slink along, nearly on par with the cushiest in class. But here, performance is less polished than that of some of its counterparts.

As such, the Quattroporte not a car for generalissimo types whose idea of control is doling out marching orders. Like other cars bearing the Maserati trident, the Quattroporte is made for those who thrive in the execution phase, for whom the value of a beautifully rendered sedan of fine woods and premium cowhide is measured by mile after twisty mile.

Exterior Design: (*****) If anything, the Quattroporte has completely re-introduced the field of luxury sedans to sex. Designer Pininfarina apparently micro-scanned the canon of Maserati forms it created back in the 1950s, and issued a voluptuous figure that’s both nostalgic and progressive. All those slithery shapes converging in all the right places strike a tuning fork on our species-perpetuation parts.

Ergonomics: (****) As long as we were able to reach the gearshift paddles while putting significant pressure on the go-pedal, Maserati could have used the interior out of an early-70s Fiat 124 and we’d likely not have noticed. But there’s more to driving than driving. Controls for the dual, electronically adjustable bucket seats, tilt/telescoping steering wheel and ride/transmission buttons are placed intuitively enough. Gauges are clear and well considered, and a central digital info screen (with gear-selection indicator) is easy to read on the fly. Seats are supportive enough and offer lots of posterior grip while taking hard corners. Leggy RAI spokesmodels will find plenty of stretch space, front and back.

Acceleration: (*****) Barring an AMG-tuned Mercedes S-Class, there’s nothing in its category that can touch the Quattroporte. Its 4.2-liter V8 eats revs for breakfast, and while max torque comes on at 4,500 rpm, there’s plenty to go around right from the get-go. Plus, the company’s reported zero-to-60 time of five seconds feels conservative, even if it’s not.

Braking: (***) Big car, big brakes. The four vented discs plus ABS brings the 4300 lbs of fun to a halt on demand. They feel a shade imposing - like the reverse-thrusters on a 767 - in town.

Ride: (***) Not as kingly-feeling as a Bentley, and without the magic-carpet slickness of a Mercedes, the Quattroporte is designed such that the driver gets lots of road information - whether he wants it or not. That means forgoing plushness for feedback. Every mode feels somewhat like sport mode. Still, sensory deprivation can be achieved - cruising along in sixth, we were actually startled by the ticking of our Swatch.

Handling: (****) With a front/rear weight distribution of 47%/53%, and a good dose of proven suspension mechanicals (e.g., unequal-length control-arms), the Quattroporte handles the curvy bits better than sports coupes half its size.

Maserati Quattroporte. Photo: Jalopnik
Maserati Quattroporte. Photo: Jalopnik
Maserati Quattroporte. Photo: Jalopnik

It’s a sedan of lovers; of beautifully tailored suits and perfectly prepared filets; of round Barolos and operatic tenors; of  sights,  sounds  and  interactions  and  flourishes

Maserati Quattroporte. Photo: Jalopnik
Maserati Quattroporte. Photo: Jalopnik
Maserati Quattroporte. Photo: Jalopnik

As six-figure executive cars go, Maserati’s latest-generation Quattroporte sedan is a viscount among  the  workaday  rich

It’s taut and fun, and but for a bit of heaviness in the rear, it’s easy to forget there’s nearly the equivalent of an extra Alfa Romeo hatchback’s worth of leather, glass and sheetmetal behind the driver’s head.

Gearbox: (***) Paddle shifting the Maserati’s electro-hydraulic six-speed Maserati DuoSelect (MDS) transmission is the only way to fly. Sure, the system’s software will approximate a slushbox if so solicited, but upshifts feel awkward and clunky compared to rivals with true automatics. Considering most luxury sedan buyers believe transmissions should be neither seen nor heard, this kind of conspicuity could be somewhat of a liability. In other words, don’t be shy, Minister, grab the paddles and go.

Audio/Video: (***) To be honest, we were so entranced by the sound of the engine, we didn’t spend much time playing around with the purpose-built Bose stereo, which is designed to cancel out outside noise. Company literature says the music system was designed simultaneously with the car. And that it has some speakers made from something called “neodymium iron boron” and features the debut of the “PowerND™” woofer. Yeah, the radio works just fine.

Toys: (***) We didn’t do much playing with the nav system, and our model wasn’t decked out with what’s available. Read ‘em off the a la carte menu: Bosch/Blaupunkt multimedia system including satellite phone, rear-seat TV and DVD player, plus rear-seat recline and massage. A small fridge in the front armrest, separate front and rear climate control, light and rain sensors, etc.

Trunk: (**) A smallish trunk can mean the death-knell of a sedan. While style-conscious Quattroporte buyers may not care, we’re estimating it’s about a golf-bag-and-a-half smaller than the Lincoln Town Car’s cargo cave.

Overall rating: (****)

Why you shouldn’t buy this car: What the hell does a corporate lion like you need with a car that has to be driven? Mercedes-Benz’s new 7G-TRONIC promises to shift circles around the Quattroporte’s DuoSelect robotic manual - making the new S-Class much more palatable for sitting in Los Angeles traffic and yelling, “Make it happen, or I’ll carve your ass into sashimi,” into a cellphone headset.

Plus, for the average CEO, the Quattroporte is far, far too stylish - just imagine him arriving at the club with a silk Gucci scarf tucked into his Bill Blass Premium golf shirt. And, dare we say it, the new Maserati's reliability is still unproven.

Why you should buy this car: You don’t need to work (anymore), your wife looks like Benedetta Massola, you hate golf, you’d have no problem ordering Campari at a South Texas roadhouse, you love to drive, and you hear the music of the spheres in the roar of a high-compression V8.

Suitability Parameters: Speed Merchants: Yes; Fashion Victims: Yes; Treehuggers: No; Mack Daddies: Yes; Tuner Crowd: No; Hairdressers: No; Penny Pinchers: No; Euro Snobs: Yes; Working Stiffs: No; Technogeeks: No; Poseurs: No; Soccer Moms: No; Nascar Dads: No; Golfing Grandparents: No

Vitals: Manufacturer: Maserati; Model tested: Maserati Quattroporte; Model year: 2005; Base price: $95,500; Engine type: 4.3-liter V8, aluminum block/heads, 16-valves; Horsepower (Sae Net): 395 hp @ 7000 rpm; Torque (Sae Net): 333 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm; Redline: 7500 rpm; Wheels: f: 19 x 8.5, r: 19 x 10.5 cast alum; Tires: f: 245/40ZR19 98Y, r: 285/35ZR19 99Y Pirelli P Zero Rosso; Drive type: RWD; 0 - 60: 5.1 secs; Top speed: 165 mph; Fuel economy city/highway: 12 / 15 mpg; NHTSA crash test rating front/side/rollover: na

by Mike Spinelli - Editor, Jalopnik

This road test appear courtesy of US automotive news website, Jalopnik. Their mission statement states that "Jalopnik loves cars. Secret cars, concept cars, flying cars, vintage cars, tricked-out cars, red cars, black cars, blonde cars – sometimes, cars just because of the curve of a hood."

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Report & Photos; Jalopnik / © 2005 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed