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.
If the ride disappoints those looking for comfort, then at least the cabin won’t. There’s huge space front and rear and a finish that exudes a restrained opulence.