Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: September 29, 2020
Maserati’s sexy flagship sedan soldiers on into 2020 without many significant changes after its 2017 mid-cycle refresh, but maintains an upscale Italian vibe with a pair of sonorous engines, a plethora of leather, metal, silk, and wood, as well as gorgeous sheetmetal. The last time we drove a Quattroporte was back in 2016, and we’re here to evaluate if it’s kept up with the times and still remains a compelling alternative to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series.
The revisions brought forth in 2017 included new styling and a more imposing front grill. The interior was updated with an 8.4-inch infotainment unit with a rotary dial, a revised gear shifter, and Maserati equipped more sound-deadening materials for a quieter ride. The engines stayed the same but were massaged to produce slightly more power, the transmission was tuned up for smoother shifts, and the hydraulic steering rack was replaced with an electric one to modernize and integrate the Quattroporte with new active safety features like adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist.
The revisions didn’t do much to change the overall driving experience, and that’s not a bad thing. We’ve fondly recall this large Italian executive sedan being a pleasant cruise missile that adeptly balances both comfort and performance. Motivated by a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 in our Quattroporte S Q4, it’s good for 424 hp and 406 lb-ft. Maserati runs that output through a slick 8-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels, hence the Q4 badge, and sprints from 0-100 km/h in 4.8 seconds, quicker than the Audi A8 L, Porsche Panamera 4, and Mercedes-Benz S 450, but slower than a BMW 750Li (4.1s). On the bright side, a spicier V8 engine is available in the rear-wheel drive GTS and upcoming Trofeo trim should you need more thrust.
But the V6 remains the sweet spot in the engine stable, and should be potent enough for most drivers. Straight line speed is strong and while the boost doesn’t truly build up until you hit 3,000 rpm, the Quattroporte never feels like a heavy or substantial sedan. Yes, you have to work to get the most out of the V6, and perhaps shift yourself to eek out the most torque, but it’s much more rewarding to drive than its lazy, look-at-my-big-torque V8 compatriots. The 8-speed is competently matched, delivering polished shifts and gentle transitions in between, never interrupting the drive, even when manually downshifting from the wrong RPMs.
And this powertrain is proof in the pudding that not all turbocharged engines have to sound scruffy and muted. Maseratis have always sung a wonderful tune, and they have prided their much of their badge and prestige on that alone. The V6 here creates an exotic ruckus, and though it never quite reaches the flat-plane crank stratosphere, it’s distinctive and unique enough to spot one blind. The exhaust hits that ear-wrenching and explosive boom on each upshift or when letting off the throttle just past the 3,000 rpm mark when the vales open for that richer, more melodic noise, like someone’s having a go at a baritone. It’s absolutely addicting, and while not as loud as the V8, it is slightly higher in pitch and distinguishes itself better than the straight-six engines from AMG and BMW. Have a listen to our Exhaust Notes video above to hear the Italian vocals for yourself.
The Quattroporte’s ride quality is exceptional. The suspension is supple and the 20-inch Pirelli P Zero all-season rubber turned out to be a great match, and was more absorbent than the 2016 Quattroporte we drove which was a bit of a rough wooden wagon. Here, it comes close to the floaty ride of its rivals that come with more sophisticated air suspensions. The S Q4 comes loaded with two damper settings, one dedicated for comfort and one for performance. There’s not a sizable or noticeable difference between them, but the latter is ever so slightly stiffer and reduces body roll by a minimal amount. But don’t mistake this as a nimble sports sedan, no matter what the marketing material says. This full-size Maserati is quick in a straight line but a touch unwieldy when the road begins to snake. Think of it as the middle ground between a lofty S-Class and an edgier 7 Series.
Maserati has previously introduced two different trim levels, each catering towards a different kind of buyer: GranLusso and GranSport. Think of GranLusso as the luxury package, blinging out the exterior with chrome,a body-coloured rear spoiler, and 20-inch wheels. Inside, you have a choice of leather, Ermenegildo Zegna silk inserts woven into the seats, door panels, headliner, and sun visors, or open-pore wood. GranSport on the other hand brings out the sportier nature of the Quattroporte, with a more aggressive front grill, restyled air intakes, black rear spoiler, 21-inch wheels, red brake calipers, and optional carbon fibre on all exterior elements. Inside are sportier and tighter sports seats and a sport steering wheel with thicker grips and an optional carbon fibre wrap.
Our test vehicle was decked out in the GranLusso spec, and the cabin was appropriately lathered in leather dressings. Maserati pulls off luxury well, the fit and finish isn’t bad, though not quite up to par with BMW or Porsche standards. The leather is sumptuous and top-shelf, and they’re more than generous with it, laying it down on the dashboard, door panels, and armrests, leaving barely a hint of plastic in sight. The steering wheel is the highlight - large, substantially weighted, and imposing with a wood trim embedded into the outer rim. The metal paddle shifters feel the part as well and emit a satisfying noise when engaged. The negatives come down to the wiggly buttons behind the steering wheel that don’t feel sturdy or solidly glued down in place. This is inherent to the product and the manufacturing, as most of the parts come sourced from the Fiat Chrysler parts bin. I’m not one to keep kicking the dead horse, and I’ve gotten used to the cheap plastic buttons littered about the center console, but it’s never a good feeling when you’ve spent six-figures and share the same building blocks as a Dodge Charger.
Both front and rear headroom are poor for a full-size luxury sedan. In the driver’s seat, my six-foot figure has to recline the seat quite far just so my hair doesn’t get restyled on every prod of the throttle. The reason for this is the sunroof. Whereas in most cars, when the sunroof is retracted, it extends upwards and above the actual roof, but here in the Quattroporte, it embeds itself in the section between the roof and the headliner. That cuts right into cabin space, but should only affect taller folks. Best to sit in one first and adjust to your preferred driving seat before pulling the trigger anyways.
Rear accommodations fare better. With the Rear Seat Package equipped, Maserati adds individually sculpted and reclinable seats with a dedicated center console running through the middle, making this a four-seater. Instead of a detachable tablet like in the S-Class, A8, and 7 Series, Maserati does with just a few buttons to control the side and rear windows shades, and a small digital screen for audio and heating functions. Feels kind of like a Genesis G90 back here, and it’s clear that the Quattroporte lags behind in features and technology.
A few other nitpicks: the heated seats and heated steering wheel don’t get very hot, unlike Dodge examples that sizzle. The center console storage under the armrest is incredibly shallow, barely deep enough to store its own key fob, let alone meaningful items. But critics tend to focus on the negatives and don’t always mention the good things. Sweep your ergonomic woes aside and you will find enjoyable features like the insanely heavy doors that feel like you’re opening a Swiss bank vault, and the soft-close door mechanism to ensure you never have to G-Wagen-slam it shut. Furthermore, frameless double-pane windows ensure a whisper quiet cabin, the gargantuan door handles remind you you’re pulling the handle of something substantial, and the metallic paddle shifters feel like you're handling a M1 Garand rifle on each pull.
And in a world so focused on migrating to digital real estate, the Maserati keeps its traditional analog gauges and clock, a sign of the good old times, no pun intended of course. There is remote engine start too for those brisky winter days. And did we mention that we love the infotainment unit? Sure it may be the same UConnect unit found in Jeeps but it’s all the better for it. Think of the alternative. Could you imagine if Maserati designed one in-house? And when the system is so flipping easy to use, responsive to input, and with a customizable home menu, we can’t dock any points for this siphoning of resources. If you can’t get over it, use the standard Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
Maserati has always been a prestigious brand thanks to a storied racing history and ties with Ferrari in sharing engines, designs, and architecture. Think Ferrari Enzo and the homologated MC12. We also have the upcoming mid-engined MC20 to be excited about. Whether or not that’s worth a price premium is up to you but the Quattroporte doesn’t come cheap. Starting at $126,800, the Quattroporte S Q4 starts higher than the equivalent Mercedes-Benz S 450 4MATIC ($109,000), Porsche Panamera 4 ($104,600), and Audi A8 L ($99,000). Spec’ing it with the aforementioned GranLusso trim rings it up even higher to $133,600, with options swelling our test vehicle just a tick over $150,000. Pricey it may be but there’s no denying the Quattroporte’s distinctive character, and will satisfy those looking for something unique and an alternative to the status quo.
The ergonomic foibles will make it questionable to those accustomed to Teutonic precision but the elegant materials, sonorous exhaust, and unique road presence should be enough for a select few. Maserati knows how to make a vehicle feel special. The name, the badge, the trident. When money isn’t on the mind, the Quattroporte lives up to the expectations in more ways than you would expect.
Model: 2020 Maserati Quattroporte S Q4 GranLusso
Paint Type: Blu Nobile
Base Price: $133,600
Price as Tested: $150,260
Length/Width/Height (mm): 5,262 / 1,948 / 1,481
Curb weight (kg): 1,920
Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6
Horsepower: 424 hp
Torque: 406 lb-ft
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 15.6
Tires: Pirelli P Zero All-season tires