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First drive review: Maserati Quattroporte (2013)

The Italians blend luxury with high performance in one desirably potent package

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Only the Italians could get away with calling their luxury car, the Four-door. But if you are going to call it after the means of ingress and egress, you might as well make sure it rises above the name. The new Maserati Quattroporte certainly does. With its mix of modern lines, LED running lights and chrome accents there’s enough of a nod to Maserati’s heritage to give the new car serious appeal. Longer, wider and slightly lower than the current model, it retains the original saloon’s beautifully understated Grand Tourer curves. Add an aggressively styled front grille and wonderfully flared wheel arches spanning 21in alloy wheels and on looks alone, this car is bound to attract custom.

It has a tough act to follow – and a big job to do. The outgoing Quattroporte was one of Maserati’s most successful models, accounting for a quarter of the brand’s 6000 annual sales. Now, with its eye on new markets in China and the Middle East, and aided by future new models including an SUV and a BMW 5-series-rivalling saloon, Maserati hopes to raise that figure to 50,000. It’s a goal that relies on a strong performance from the new Quattroporte.

So what has the new car to offer? First, Ferrari has reworked the current car’s range-topping 4.7-litre V8. Now we have a glorious, twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre V8 packing 530bhp (130bhp more than the current, standard model and 90bhp more than the most powerful, the Sport GT S) and, when the engine utilises the new overboost function, a mighty 523 lb ft torque. In sport mode the V8 engine barks and spits as the new eight-speed ZF gearbox scrolls through precise and lightning-fast cog changes. Shifts can be done manually via two large, aluminium paddles behind the steering wheel, with every flick of the finger engaging another cog and releasing yet more power.

Maserati says it will be offering a smaller, cheaper and more efficient 3-litre V6 petrol unit that should arrive next summer. The smaller engine can be mated to a 4×4 drivetrain, although such a version is unlikely to come to the UK.

Despite being over 17ft long the Quattroporte drives like a car half its size, an impression that only increases the harder it’s pushed. It’s partly down to a liberal use of aluminium that means the new car is 90kg lighter than the old GT S (1900kg compared with 1990kg), and partly a new multi-link suspension set-up at the rear that has been designed with aggressive driving in mind. Throw in an all-new aluminium steering box with a reduced ratio and you have one very agile car.

If Maserati is targeting the enthusiastic driver, it has most definitely succeeded but perhaps the car’s more impressive feat is that when all its sports functions are switched off, the suspension electronically softened and the exhaust manifolds closed, the new Quattroporte settles into its other role as a quiet, spacious and refined luxury cruiser.

Inside the car there is an abundance of soft-grain leathers, alcantara trim and soft-touch plastics. Rear legroom has increased by 100mm, leaving plenty of room for tray tables and front headrest-mounted screens, among other expensive options. Fit and finish is excellent, with hardly any surface spared a splash of chrome or a dash of shiny, piano black trim. Space in the front isn’t quite as generous. The driver’s side can feel slightly claustrophobic at first ‒ the massive rear-view mirror and steeply raked windscreen don’t help ‒ but it’s an impression that soon passes.

The new car’s infotainment system is a dream to use, favouring a crystal-clear touch-screen over fiddly buttons and an interface that is bright, colourful and easy to navigate. Throw in the 15-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system and intuitive climate control and you have an extremely agreeable space in which to while away the miles. This interior opulence is an added bonus for European markets but an absolute must if the Italian brand hopes to succeed in China and Russia, where bling is a prerequisite.

However, maximum praise should be reserved for the driving experience. It’s hard to think of another car that offers so much luxury and exclusivity yet which, at the press of a few buttons, can be transformed into a breath-taking, performance machine. Prices are yet to be confirmed but Maserati has hinted at around £110,000 for the V8 and £80,000 for the V6. If the smaller and cheaper engine is anything as good as this one, the Germans should be very worried.

Verdict ★★★★☆

A beautiful, luxurious cruiser that turns into a real driver’s car at the flick of a switch.

Factfile

Maserati Quattroporte 3.8-litre V8

Engine:
3798cc, V8
Power:
530bhp @ 6800rpm
Torque:
523 lb ft @ 2250-3500rpm
Transmission:
8-speed automatic
Acceleration:
0-62mph: 4.7sec
Top Speed:
190mph
Fuel:
27.9mpg (combined)
CO2:
278g/km
Road Tax Band:
M
Dimensions:
L 5263mm W 1919mm H 1481mm

The rivals

Mercedes S63 AMG

For Equally as fast, potent and enough AMG badging to make it exclusive Against A much firmer ride and not as luxurious inside

Aston Martin Rapide

For Just as desirable, almost as fast and draped in luxury Against A lot more expensive, less luggage space and a very thirsty V12 under the bonnet