The Maserati Quattroporte has character, balance and a wonderful engine, but its ride and gearbox mean it’s ultimately flawed.
What is it?
This is the Maserati Quattroporte Sport GTS. Last year the Masaerati Quattroporte was given a mild facelift, and at the same time the 4.7-litre V8 engine from the GranTurismo S became available as an option.
Now the range has been extended further with the introduction of this top-end 4.7-litre model, the Maserati Quattroporte Sport GTS.
‘Top end’ in most luxury car terms might equal more speed, but it would also mean more comfort. But this is Maserati. So out go the Skyhook adaptive dampers (replaced by more sporting passive ones), down comes the suspension (by 15mm at the front and 11mm at the rear) and up goes the power and rev limiter.
Okay, so the power's up by only 8bhp (to 433) and the limit by 100rpm (to 7200rpm). But there's more to it than that. The power is up because the exhaust has an active valve which, if you press a button on the dash, sends gases out without damping a great deal of their sound.
Advances in automatic gearbox software, meanwhile, have allowed the rev limit to increase. Apparently autos and high-revving engines aren't naturally suited to each other, so it's only recently that the software has allowed it.
What’s it like?
That revised six-speed ZF ’box is great for a start. In auto mode it's bright enough to blip down a gear when you approach a corner on the anchors, while in manual mode it does only what you ask of it. It won't change up at the limiter, it won't kick down on full throttle, and it won't change down just for the sake of it, although it will engage lower gears as you roll up to a junction. It's very sweet, the measure of almost any robotised manual.
Given that the extra power is all above 6000rpm and represents less than two per cent of total output, it’s hardly a surprise to find that the Maserati Quattroporte Sport GTS doesn't feel any quicker than usual.
What it does do is make a belting noise. Make no mistake: the Sport GTS doesn't just sound 'good'. It sounds 'let's leave it in first gear through the next three towns, eh?' splendid. Which goes down fine around Modena. But probably not so well in Bedfordshire.
The loss of adaptive dampers, the adoption of 20in alloys and the fact that the springs are stiffer than usual (by 30 per cent at the front and 10 per cent at the rear) mean the Quattroporte Sport GTS rides with some firmness.
It's less cosseting than any other luxury saloon I can think of, but it's not harsh – just really well controlled. The lovely suede-finish steering wheel controls a steering system that's overly light (presumably to filter the tugs and kickback that you can still barely feel as the wheels skip and tramline), but perfectly accurate and responsive. The Sport GTS handles, too. Less cosseting it might be, but it's also super to drive.
Should I buy one?
So, would you? If you were going to choose a Quattroporte anyway, then heck yes. The Sport GTS is the most Maserati-ish one of the lot. The loss of a smidgen of comfort is amply made up for by the tighter chassis and the noise.