Romance, rusticity, fiery passion, artistic flair, traditional heritage and distinctive fashionableness are synonymous with Italians, who are blessed with a mellifluous language. Granted, one Italian telling another that they drive a Quattroporte is, in reality, an anticlimactic revelation that their car has four doors. As an Englishman, though, I took delight in informing people of the supplied Quattroporte GTS’ Grigio Maratea paint and Rosso brake callipers, and the interior draped in Sabbia leather with a Nero dashboard.
If you choose the colour and wheels wisely, the styling of Maserati’s six generation Quattroporte is certainly magnetising and ignites the soul even when stationery, although the previous incarnation’s aesthetics still hold a place in my heart. The GranTurismo’s long bonnet and concave Trident grille have been carried over along with tell-tale air vent trios on the wings, and when viewed from the side profile, the rear has, in my eyes, a tingle-inducing hint of 3200GT about it. Stare at the latest Quattroporte for too long, though, and you may agree that certain aspects look a little too fussy, like the headlights, whilst the rear has a somewhat disappointingly formulaic design to it, which could quite happily sport a German or even Korean badge. Rarity counts in this Italian stallion’s favour, though, the eye-catching and unarguably stylish design disguising its proportions and class-leading 3,171mm wheelbase. This is a super saloon which demands attention everywhere it goes.
The Quattroporte’s interior is inviting to behold and the Poltrona Frau fine grain extended leather seats did indeed prove superbly comfortable, but for a saloon with its heart set on sport, the wide front seats would benefit from increased side support. The car’s key was the heaviest I’ve encountered, which was reassuring, if a little burdensome on one’s pocket, and the trident embossed into the headrests looked much classier than Bentley’s attempt. The high gloss carbon fibre trim sections bestowed the interior with modernity and worked well visually, although they felt slightly plasticy, which could also be said of some other interior components, from the gear selector and sat nav system to the cupholders. Parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is the culprit and to be fair, some Bentley controls are clearly from the VW parts bin and other prestige marques such as Jaguar aren’t immune from occasional quality lapses, either.
The egg-shaped analogue clock, soft Alcantara headlining, leather-draped dashboard and excellent electric rear blinds elevated the aura of specialness. The transmission tunnel limits the middle seat to use by a child or small adult but space for the outer occupants is abundant and the 530-litre boot certainly appears capable of swallowing copious amounts of luggage for cross-continental trips and the like. It’s a colossal car in all respects and even the steering wheel and paddleshifts seem to have been given steroids. Overall, the sixth generation Quattroporte GTS’ cabin still feels indulgently luxurious and is a massive improvement over the previous model. Maserati celebrated its centenary last year, customers in its largest market, the US, lapping up the Quattroporte and Ghibli. China, the firm’s second largest market, also witnessed unprecedented sales, female businesswomen accounting for around 40% of customers.
One thing some rear-seat VIP customers may relish is that when set to Sport mode, the Quattroporte GTS’ ‘Active Sound’ exhaust can not only be heard more freely but also be felt through one’s posterior. I can see fights developing between occupants and their chauffeurs. When the GTS is initially fired up, it bursts into life with a pleasing bark, but I did expect more fire and drama to ensue when the accelerator is stamped on. Typically, a wonderful range of exhaust sounds can be lured out using paddleshifts, but the roar under hard acceleration was simply accompanied by sometimes quite random booms, like someone blowing a tuba in the boot, with not many crackles and pops. Again, in fairness, so many cars of this ilk that I’ve driven lately haven’t been sonorous enough even in their respective sport modes either, from the RS6 and XJR to the Flying Spur V8, so although the Quattroporte GTS didn’t audibly sparkle quite as much as I’d hoped, it remains on a par.
The heart of the new Quattroporte GTS is a belter. It’s a Maserati-designed, Ferrari-built V8, assembled in Maranello and produces a meaty 710Nm torque on overboost. Despite the new 3.8-litre engine being down on the previous 4.7-litre in displacement terms, its low inertia, twin turbo, direct injection setup means it’s more powerful and delivers torque earlier, making it feel every bit as potent as one would hope for. Powered by 530 horses, 650Nm is on tap between 2,000-4,000rpm. It’s the fastest Quattroporte yet, with a 0-62mph time of 4.7 seconds and a staggering top speed of 191mph. The car I’d just bid farewell to was actually faster, but the Maserati still got the hairs on my neck to stand up and it certainly felt special knowing the engine harks from a place with so much passion and history.
Maserati’s sixth generation Quattroporte is panelled mostly in aluminium and hence considerably lighter than its predecessor, and the 50:50 weight distribution, cleverly engineered aerodynamics, rear-wheel drive setup and adaptive Skyhook dampers certainly give it the ingredients for success. The eight-speed ZF transmission generally behaved smoothly although the physical action of the actual gear selector proved frustrating at times, such as when manoeuvring. In Normal mode and predominantly in urban areas and on A-roads and motorways, the ride was impressively supple, well suited to chauffeuring duties. In Sport mode out in the countryside, though, the servo-powered hydraulic steering wasn’t communicative enough to instil confidence and required frequent jostling to keep things in check during spirited cornering and occasionally even on straights, sudden camber changes sometimes upsetting the suspension. The car’s neutral balance, decent grip and keen turn of pace somewhat expiated the overall feel, however, and the big Italian excelled in delivering a sense of occasion, formidable road presence and a charming, fiery engine that indefatigably puts a grin on one’s face.
The supplied test car cost just shy of £116,000 including options, which makes it pricier than a Jaguar XJR but more attainable than a Porsche Panamera Turbo S and certainly an Aston Martin Rapide S or Bentley Continental Flying Spur V8. Combined fuel consumption of 23.9mpg makes the new Quattroporte GTS significantly less thirsty than its predecessor and certainly seems achievable through mixed driving, but with 274g CO2 emissions and inevitably pricey insurance and servicing costs, customers will know what to expect. Those looking to lease a Quattroporte GTS through business or personal contract hire will find monthly payments starting from £1,322 for a 6+47 deal.
Losing some of the previous model’s raw edge and bespoke aura along the way, the new Maserati Quattroporte has taken a handsome stride forward and is now, handling sharpness aside, largely on par with its similarly-priced rivals. Having grown in size, it’s a splendid choice for cross-continental driving and would even be suitable for well-heeled 2.4 families, let alone chauffeured businesspeople. The Germans and British may ultimately win on sharpness and punctilious quality, but the Quattroporte, especially in GTS guise, will continue doing what it’s always done, leaving onlookers’ eyes bulging and jaws unhinged with its flamboyant Italian charisma.