Back in the mid-2000s, the fifth-generation Quattroporte arrived to prove Maserati could still hold its head high amongst the increasingly luxurious German competition. Here's how it performed in the Autocar road test:
These are uncertain times for Maserati. In the Fiat Group’s post-General Motors reorganisation, the Trident has been separated from Ferrari and linked instead with Alfa Romeo in an effort to extend the company’s range and – eventually – return it to profitability. This flagship Quattroporte is the car to tempt much-needed new money to Modena.
Traditionally, the four-door Maserati hasn’t been a beautiful car, lacking the elegance of its GT brethren. It has taken Pininfarina to deliver a truly attractive Quattroporte with this model and it is a shape without an unattractive angle.
With rivals such as the benchmark BMW M5 toting 500bhp, the front/ mid-mounted 394bhp V8 was always likely to suffer by comparison – and the Quattroporte trailed 0.7sec behind the M5’s 4.6sec 0-60mph time. By 100mph, the Italian’s 12.8sec performance was 3.0sec adrift of the German’s.
But the Maserati’s V8 is magical, with a thicker songbook than even the M5’s V10. Low-rev woofle and mid-range induction growl are trumped by a scream that transports you straight to Monte Carlo’s infamous tunnel, mid-grand prix.
Short gearing means a lot of gearchanging. Which is fine when driving hard, the robotised manual gearbox giving fast shifts in Sport mode without the kidney-bruising abruptness of the M5’s SMG. It’s in Drive mode that it trips up. Press on and it’s a real pain, with a long wait as the software decides which gear to provide, and a reluctance to upshift when you’ve finished accelerating. It never lets you relax in the way that an auto-made-manual such as the Aston Martin DB9’s ZF six-speeder does.
The Quattroporte demonstrates an appetite for corners that its size would never lead you to expect. Exceptional body control plays a big part in shrinking the Maserati, but there’s a price to pay – and that’s a very un-limo-like ride. It’s a chassis that never settles, with a continual fidget on the motorway that becomes more intrusive as the speed drops. On town Tarmac, it’s downright uncomfortable.