The day after I drove the R8 I was fortuante enough to drive the 2014 Maserati Quattroporte GTS. That’s the one with the new 3.8 twin-turbo V8 with 530 bhp, in essence the same engine used in the new Ferrari California T. This was my first proper go in a Maserati. I didn’t know what to expect, but my heart was racing.
Things looked good. The key is a big and chunky thing, like it belonged on the International Space Station. While the key was an impressive looking thing, I do miss starting a car by turning a key. However, that said, there is a childish satisfaction in pressing a glowing starter button to awaken a sleeping V8. Now, the the old Quattroporte was one of my top favourite cars. Actually, it was in my dream 5-car garage. One of the main things I loved about it was the sound. It sounded like an F1 car and was louder than an erupting volcano. This new QP, I thought to myself, with its lower capacity engine and two turbos could never sound as good. I was right. Starting it up was no more exciting than starting up a Range Rover.
I wasn’t expecting much after that. I had thought Maserati had toned down the Quattroporte. Perhaps they wanted to compete with more mainstream rivals. Perhaps they wanted it to be more of a luxury flagship and make the Ghibli their sports saloon.
Oh how wrong was I. I found the sport button. Pressed it, naturally, and dropped a few gears via the best paddles fitted to any car. The noise. Wow. The R8 is still the best sounding car I’ve driven but the Quattroporte gave it a good run for its money. With the R8 the noise delivery was linear and predictable. With the Maser, the noise was, if I maybe so crude, similar to an orgasm. For the first couple of seconds it’s just a gentle gargle, then completely out of nowhere there’s this loud and deeply satisfying scream. It came like a tsunami. And had the same impact. It just sounded so brutal.
Strangely, because it was more soundproofed thus isolating a sense of speed, I managed to get the QP high up the speedometers than the R8. But backing off the throttle was no bad thing. The sound the exhausts make on the overrun is something I’ll take with me to my deathbed.
Obviously, being a black flash four-door saloon with a howling V8 it did attract some attention, but not as much as the R8. It did, however, get more questions from people. I suppose being a brand new 2014 model, I should’ve expected that. But perhaps it’s something to do with the Maserati brand. Somehow it’s just that much more exotic and mysterious than other sports car marques.
Maseratis just look, feel and sound more expensive than rivals from Porsche, Aston Martin and Jaguar when in actual fact they cost the same, if not less. Exclusivity also plays an important role in the mystery of Maseratis. Whatever it is, people love Maseratis. And it’s easy to see why.
I don’t think there’s any comparison with the looks of the fifth-generation Quattroporte and this new sixth-gen one. I think they both look great in their own special and different way. The last one was designed by Pininfarina whereas the the new one was wholly designed in-house. Think of it like this; the old QP had more curves. It was more feminine, Nigella Lawson if you will. The new one has lost some of it’s predecessor’s curves in favour of sharper yet elegant lines. It’s more matured and to my eyes classier. Think Helen Miren. Whatever. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I still maintain both QPs are as pretty as each other.
One area where new beats old is the interior. No arguments please, this new one wipes the floor over the old one. Not just in terms of equipment but design, quality and space. It is in every possible way better. There is actually now space for me in the back in the off chance I should be chauffeured in a QP and not driving it.
And it would indeed by an off chance. While the back is a lovely place to sit with the tables, screens and blinds, upfront is where the party is. The steering wheels is a beautiful piece of design, and so are the paddles. Actually, scrap that. The paddle are works of art. The blue dials top the whole thing off. It just feels so speical. Oh and the blue face oval Maserati clock. I’d buy it just for the clock.
Where you can tell just how small a company Maserati is with the touchscreen. This controls everything from the audio to the satnav and climate control. In theory it makes sense. Replace all the buttons on the centre console with a touchscreen. Buttons are peasant things. Aristocrats only use touchscreens. But in practise it’s too fussy, too complicated and not responsive enough to be efficient. At least they tried.
The new QP also features an electric assisted steering system. Not for a second did it feel remote and numb. Quite the contrary in fact. It’s the right weight, meaty but not a chore around town. Obviously I couldn’t test the handling to the raggedy edge in the city but it felt very composed. Air suspension keeping everything in check. The balance between ride and handling is spot on. Might be a tad firm for some but what do you expect from a Maserati? If you want the ultimate in plushness then go for an S-Class.
That sums up the new Quattroporte. It’s still flawed, the new model has traded some of the magic of the old for some maturity and usability. Is it less desirable? Hell no. What it is is quite possibly the most painful heart vs. head argue meant you’ll have to yourself. The Quattroporte sits in the market place like spoilt, materialistic Italian mistress. You know there are more sensible options out there, a German wouldn’t break your heart and wallet as much. An Aston Rapide or Jag XJR are just as quick and special but the new QP feels so different. It feels Italian.