When it comes to feel-good cars, there's not much that can touch Maserati's beautifully elegant Quattroporte. Jonathan Crouch looks at the revised version.
The Quattroporte was always a special Maserati model; in effect a sportscar dressed up as a big saloon where its rivals were big saloons dressed up as sportscars. The improved version of the current sixth-generation model - the car we look at here - is the best thing Maserati has yet brought us in the top luxury saloon segment, but it needs to be good to keep up with the competition. Outside, there's a mild facelift, while the interior looks smarter and more p to date.
Maserati as a brand is going places. The company's latest Levante SUV is racking up some decent sales numbers and the car we look at here, the improved Quattroporte luxury sports saloon, has been a sales success for the brand in its first three years on sale. The Quattroporte first appeared on Maserati's books way back in 1963 and was always a bit of a quirky niche player here in the UK until the introduction of the achingly gorgeous fifth-generation model in 2004. Here was a car that had the power to seduce buyers from their BMW M models and Mercedes AMG specials into something altogether more sensuous. That progress was continued by the MK6 model and looks set to progress further here with this facelifted version.
As ever, this is a saloon that drives like a sports coupe. If you want silent cosseting, you should have visited a Lexus dealer. There's a firm ride, an urgent engine note and a machine that's fantastic fun to hustle through a set of bends. Most UK buyers order their cars with the most affordable 3.0-litre V6 diesel, a 275PS unit that develops 600Nm of torque and can take you to 62mph in 6.4s en route to 157mph. If you simply must have your Quattroporte with petrol power - a point of view we can understand - the entry-level engine is a 350PS 3.0 V6. Next up is a 410PS 3.0-litre V6 which makes 62mph in 5.1s en route to 178mph. Want more under your right boot? Try the 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 that's good for 530PS. This is closely related to a Ferrari design, although the Ferrari engine is said to feature a cross-plane crank for more power but slightly less torque. The 3.0-litre engine is also developed to work with all-wheel drive but sadly not for right-hand drive markets. Apparently the steering column would foul the driveshaft plane. Power for all Quattroporte models is directed through a ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox.
The major changes to his improved model are found at the front where there's a light and grille arrangement reminiscent of the brand's Levante luxury SUV. The lower nose section is linked to the grille with aerodynamic inspired splits. The back has been restyled too, with two side pockets that focus the attention on the exhausts. An aggressive black piano spoiler completes the rear view. Inside, there are further changes too, primarily with the addition of smarter touchscreen infotainment system in the centre of the dash. Buyers also get redesigned front and rear seats with more sculptured profiles, plus a smarter sport steering wheel, which can be ordered in carbon fibre or full leather. There's high gloss Piano Black wood trim on the dashboard, aluminium gearshift paddles and stainless steel sport pedals to complete the effect. Otherwise, it's pretty much as you were. Measuring over 5.2m from tip to tail, this Quattroporte certainly isn't a small car. Indeed, it could appeal to the chauffeur market as well as to buyers who just want pedal the thing themselves. You can specify a two-seat rear bench with a central divider, or a three-seater that splits and folds to extend the 530-litre boot.
Prices haven't changed much, which means a span that starts at around £75,000 for the entry-level diesel version - or from around £78,000 for the base 3.0 petrol V6. There are two trim levels - 'GranLusso' and 'GranSport' - and there's been a clear emphasis on improving quality both actual and perceived, with stricter quality procedures in the build process and some high-quality woods and leathers used throughout. Key extra features added include an electronic parking brake, a surround view camera, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning and Automated Emergency Braking. Many of the major controls are operated by a large central touch screen mounted on the centre console. There's a twin-cowled instrument cluster and traditionalists will be reassured that you still get an analogue clock inset into the dashboard. The Quattroporte will have to do very well to shift some formidable rivals and these cover a wide span, including vehicles such as the Mercedes CLS and BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe right up to cars such as the Aston Martin Rapide and Bentley Continental Flying Spur. It'll be helped in achieving its targets by a dealer network that's growing fast as well.
Maserati has done what it could to improve the efficiency of this car. To that end, an electrically adjustable Air Shutter has been fitted in the front grille between the air vents and the engine's radiator. The Air Shutter provides optimal control of the engine's fluid temperature and, together with the optimization of the new front and rear bumpers, air conveyor and flat bottom, improves the aerodynamic drag of the car by 10%. It's still pretty thirsty though, or at least it is if you go for a petrol model. The base 3.0 V6 returns 29.4mpg on the combined cycle and 223g/km of CO2. Go for the 3.8 V8 and those figures fall to 26.4mpg and 250g/km. Which is why most UK buyers opt for the entry-level 3.0 V6 diesel; here the figures are much more acceptable - 45.6mpg and 163g/km. The evolutionary styling of this Quattroporte will help protect residual values of the old car which weren't as bad as many think.
Maserati looks to be adhering to a very sensible development plan for this improved sixth-generation Quattroporte. Not a lot needed doing to the basic styling of the original car, so the exterior design is nicely evolutionary. The interior has been extensively modernised and is far more media-savvy - an area which rather dated its predecessor. Overall, if you add up all the points, you'd probably by something else in this segment. But if you let your heart rule your head - and we can understand why you would - then this Maserati continues to offer a temptingly different option.