Maserati's luxury saloon receives a mild exterior and slightly more serious interior makeover. Neither alter its likeable personality or appeal greatly

What is it?

The 2017 Maserati Quattroporte has been given the very definition of a mild facelift. Mechanically, there’s nothing much new to see here. Visually, and inside, there is - a bit.

First, then, to the outside of this…this what? This sporty luxury saloon that’ll cost you from £70,000 to £115,000, depending on the engine. Consider the Quattroporte’s rivals, then, to be anything from a BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class to a Porsche Panamera, Jaguar XJ, and maybe even an Aston Martin Rapide, if you spec the top, V8-powered, Quattroporte GTS model. That’s what our test car, the car you see pictured here, is. 

Outside, it has a new front end that's reminiscent of the new Levante SUV’s, and it gets the same feature behind the grille – an electrically controlled ‘air shutter’, a neat idea which keeps the engine at a more constant temperature. It’s open at lower speeds and/or higher temperatures to make sure the engine’s sufficiently cooled, and closes if it’s colder or you’re going faster. It speeds up the warm-up process and has allowed Maserati to save a few quid by using the same radiator set up on any model in the Quattoporte range – which in the UK has a 271bhp 3.0 diesel as the entry-level motor, includes a 404bhp 3.0 V6 petrol and is topped with this 3.8-litre, twin-turbocharged V8.

The V8 makes the same 523bhp as it did in the pre-facelift model, and drives through the same eight-speed automatic transmission, but the air shutter, combined with a new diffuser and bumper at the back, has cleaned the aerodynamics by 10%, so the top speed is up (by 3mph) to 193mph (small gains at that speed).

Inside, the changes are more significant. To a mild point, anyway. There’s a new touchscreen in the middle of the dash, with a dual-height rotary dial on the centre console. There are a load of new driver assistance systems: adaptive cruise, lane departure warning, emergency braking, and so on. New glass is said to have made the Quattroporte a bit quieter inside.

Finally, there are two distinct trim levels; GranSport, and GranLusso, which brings slightly different bumper and plastic treatments outside and different material finishes inside. The former of the two trim levels is more sporty, with red calipers and black plastics, you know the idea; and the latter is more luxurious, up to and including a new kind of silk trim.

What's it like?

The Quattroporte is like it used to be, which, three years after its launch, is on the ‘quite likeable’ side of things. 

There was a time when a Maserati Quattroporte asked you to make a few compromises. It rode far more harshly than the competition and the gearbox jolted and kicked you around a bit too. The reward was keen steering, rather fine body control and an engine note to die for. It was a luxury car – usually a car enjoyed more from the rear seats than the one from where you twiddle the wheel – that demanded you were driving if you wanted to see it at its best.

These days a Quattroporte doesn’t ask its rear seat occupants to sacrifice so much for the driver, but in return, the person in the front isn’t having so much fun, either. Yet, in turn, it’s not as refined, smooth, or isolated as an S-Class or 7 Series. Therefore, it ends up falling somewhere between the two camps, with insufficient reserves of either luxury or sport. 

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Yes, the V8 engine is pleasingly powerful, with a broad power range, too, but it sounds no better than refined and grumbly; certainly you wouldn’t know, had you not been told, that it was built by Ferrari.

While the ride is better than the previous-generation Quattroporte, still it shimmies over poor surfaces, feeding unwelcome vibes through a steering rack that otherwise offers reasonable weighting and accuracy; though with nothing special to mark it out as hydraulically rather than electrically assisted.

Concerning the new interior features, the touchscreen has had a resolution increase to 800x600 (from 640x480 pixels) and operates pretty well. It feels initially less intuitive than Audi’s MMMI or BMW’s iDrive, which is inevitable on first acquaintance and I suspect you’d get used to it, but there’d never be any convincing me the visual quality was as good. 

Of the old interior features, the seats are good, driving position excellent, room in the back about adequate and the boot well-sized. Oh, and the new silk trim, which you can find on the doors, seat faces and parts of the roof of GranLusso models, is quite successful – a soft, classy alternative to leather or Alcantara.

Should I buy one?

If you were looking at these things entirely objectively, a case for the Quattoporte isn’t the easiest thing to make. The 2017 model year improvements enhance its appeal, but whichever element of it you want to pick, somewhere out there there’s a rival that does things better.

Engine? An AMG or Aston motor is more engaging. Ride? A 7 Series or S-Class has it nailed. Driving enjoyment? The Porsche is where you should sit. 

Ultimately, then, you’ve got to like the look of the Quattroporte, wilfully not want any of the rivals – both of which I can understand – and appreciate Maserati’s groove. I can understand that entirely, too.

Maserati Quattoporte GranSport GTS 

Location Italy; On sale Now; Price: £115,980 Engine V8, 3799cc, twin-turbo petrol; Power 523bhp at 6800rpm; Torque 479lb ft at 2000-4000rpm; Gearbox Eight-speed automatic; Kerb weight 1900kg; Top speed 193mph; 0-62mph 4.7sec; Economy 26.4mpg; CO2/tax band 250g/km / 37%

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Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

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