maserati. quattroporte. the words roll off the tongue in that unique way that italian words do, where you almost sing them instead of speaking them. there's something about the italian language and cars that inspires a feeling of exoticness, and the quattroporte does its best to play into that, from its expressive exterior styling to the brash, red leather interior that i found waiting for me inside.
but dig a little bit past the quattroporte's surface and you'll find that it's not really exotic at all, but rather a conventional luxury touring sedan with old-school sensibilities.
what's new for 2018
this generation of the quattroporte has been around since 2013. thankfully, it does see a few important changes for 2018 that help to modernize the sedan, especially in the area of safety. compare the 2018 quattroporte with the 2017 model here. those changes drive up the price slightly to $107,400 with destination (an increase of $2,200).
the updates include a new torque-vectoring system and electric power steering, which allow the sedan to add lane keep assist, active blind spot warning and traffic sign recognition to its suite of available safety technology. those come as a part of the driver assistance package, which also includes adaptive cruise control and a 360-degree camera system.
also changed for 2018 is the twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter v-6 used engine , which gets a bump in power up to 424 horsepower and 428 pounds-feet of torque. that raises the top speed of the quattroporte s up to 179 mph, according to maserati.
i tested a quattroporte s granlusso, the more luxury-focused of two upgrade packages available for the quattroporte s. the gransport offers a sportier take on the sedan. the two have cosmetic differences on the exterior and some equipment divergence inside: the gransport comes with sport seats and a sport steering wheel while the granlusso has heated and ventilated front seats as well as a leather-and-wood steering wheel. my test vehicle also came with the driver's assistance package, upgraded sound system and heated rear seats among a few other options to bring the final price up to $123,330.
go big or go home
in addition to the quattroporte s (rear-wheel drive) and quattroporte s q4 (all-wheel drive), there is also a gts version of the quattroporte. that gets a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter v-8 that makes 523 hp and 523 pounds-feet of torque, and has rear-wheel drive only. both the s and gts come with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
maserati proudly states that these used engine are both built by ferrari at its plant in maranello, italy. the used engine were co-developed by both companies but are used only in maserati vehicles. the used engine share the same bore dimensions, valve technology and similar turbocharging technology, but the additional cylinders make the gts a much quicker car with a higher top speed.
one thing i missed in the quattroporte s was that signature maserati growl; it's muted inside, and it doesn't quite overwhelm outside like i was hoping it would.
if you want to go smaller, the good news is that the v-6 used engine is up to the task of moving of the big quattroporte s sedan around. acceleration builds steadily at mid-throttle, and the used engine is a willing partner when you put your foot into it. one thing that i did miss was that signature maserati growl; it's muted inside, and it doesn't quite overwhelm outside like i was hoping it would. for the big noise, you'll have to look at the v-8 in the gts.
the quattroporte's dynamics tend to err more toward touring than sport. its performance is acceptable in the corners, but the car's more comfortable when the roads are straighter. crank the car up into its most aggressive driving modes and the throttle gets twitchy, but the rest of the car still feels a bit soft. this didn't really bother me much because of the car's cruising nature, including its interior.
old school, new school
the very comfortable interior's styling reminded me of old-school luxury vehicles (complete with an analog clock), especially with my test vehicle's red leather. i'm not sure that i was so much a fan of the cloth inserts found in the seats, but that option can be declined if you'd prefer all leather. it checks all the boxes for what you'd expect out of an interior in this price range: fine materials all around, heated and ventilated front seats, and plenty of legroom for backseat passengers.
speaking of the backseat, it's very comfortable — as long as you aren't in the middle, which sits higher than the outboard seats and also happens to be right underneath a large dome light in the ceiling. that pinch means there isn't much headroom to speak of.
that's the old school; the new school consists of the technology offerings. thankfully, maserati chose to simply use a version of parent fiat chrysler automobiles' uconnect touchscreen multimedia system that's a personal favorite of mine. here, it's just reskinned and called maserati touch control plus, but it's still the same super-easy-to-use, intuitive uconnect system. it comes with android auto and apple carplay connectivity baked in, as well. between the seats is a secondary control for the system with a dial, but i didn't really use that at all — the screen is easier to poke at. bear in mind that the quattroporte comes with just two usb ports: one up front and the other in the rear armrest when it's folded down.
the final new-school element worth a shout-out are the added safety features. the quattroporte's integration of its safety technology is well done, and the systems are all easy to turn on and off via a single menu on the touchscreen or the adaptive cruise control buttons on the steering wheel. you'd be surprised how easy it can be to mess up a well-intended safety feature by making the warnings too abrasive or the features hard to access, but the quattroporte avoids those pitfalls.
the quattroporte isn't weak, but competitors are strong
there's nothing wrong with the quattroporte, a competent vehicle with italian flair that extends beyond its name. the brand still carries cachet and the front grille especially has aged well (i can't say the same for those fender portholes, however). but it's playing in a tough division with its six-figure price tag, and my $120,000-plus test vehicle runs up against formidable performance sedans like the bmw m5, audi rs 7 and porsche panamera 4s. compare the quattroporte with those vehicles here.
those three vehicles each run circles around the quattroporte, performance-wise, and come with luxury in equal measure — especially the m5 that i tested earlier this year, which was so good that it's seared in my memory as the gold standard for these types of vehicles. i don't have doubts that a redesigned quattroporte would be a better, more competitive car in this class, but the 2018 version just feels a step behind.
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