Material quality levels are far from poor, but compared to some of the best-constructed saloons in the world – the cars the Quattroporte must directly compete with – they’re disappointing. The leather upholstery is rich and pleasant, the seats large and comfortable, and equipment levels are good.
There’s just not the same painstaking attention-to-detail you find in a Mercedes S-class here, nor even a BMW 7-series. The switchgear looks plain and feels ordinary; there are too many plasticky trims on the fascia than any £100k car can get away with; and the factory-fit sat nav looks and feels like an oversized, overworked aftermarket addition.
Such things, perhaps, can be overlooked in a sporting saloon with more dynamic talents. And the Quattroporte has its charms as a driver’s car, no question. Not just big on performance, it’s also got grip and chassis balance to rival a much smaller sporting four-door, and communicative steering.
But its driving experience has some distracting quirks; flies in the ointment that make the car that telling little bit less intuitive to drive, and less relaxing over long distances, than it ought to be.
Maserati’s turbo V8 issues a subtly mellifluous warble under load. It’s pleasing to listen to, torquey enough through the mid-range to make for easy overtaking cross-country, and powerful enough overall to make the Quattroporte deceptively rapid. A Jaguar XJR is noisier and feels marginally quicker, but neither by much.
What the XJR does much better than the Quattroporte is to juggle smoothness, refinement, stability and consistency of response against the need for directional agility and big-hitting performance. The Maserati corrects one of the old Quattroporte’s big flaws in as much as it rides decently enough.
Leave the dampers in normal mode and the car handles most UK surfaces quite well. It’s compliant enough on the motorway and in town, and taut enough on a backroad – though it does occasionally get caught out by a sharp ridge.
The car’s steering is weighty and offers dependable feedback from the front wheels, and it allows you to tap into a chassis with surprisingly high grip levels for something so large. There’s sporting character here to burn, in other words – but it doesn’t come without compromise.
There’s a non-linear jump in directness to the steering response at just under a quarter turn of lock than can make the car hard to place in a corner, and an intrusive stability control system that overrules any attempt you make to steer the car slightly on the throttle – unless you switch it off completely. Bump-steer can corrupt your line through a fast bend, likewise a change in camber can upset the Quattroporte’s stability slightly at high speed.
There are some distracting manners about the powertrain, too – little flaws that suggest Maserati’s engineers didn’t pay enough attention to the minutia. Select ‘Sport’ mode and the accelerator pedal becomes hyper-sensitive right at the top of its travel, before going dead towards the bottom of it.