The Maserati brand has seen its share of media appearances over the years, always being associated with wealth, style – and often a bit of misbehaviour.
Rock-and-roll star Joe Walsh of Eagles fame said his Maserati would do 185 mph, and the brand’s cars have made on-screen cameos in Godfather III, Miami Vice, Entourage, and, of course, in the driveway of the Italian Stallion himself, Rocky Balboa.
The Maserati Quattroporte in particular has been typecast as something of a suave, bad-ass machine – almost like the Al Pacino of cars; but does that quality make it any good to live with? As one should expect from a six-figure sedan, the short answer is yes.
As far as big sedans go, a case could be made that the current iteration of the Quattroporte is the best-looking of the bunch. While photographing it for this review, I quickly realized that the Maserati has much more gravitas in person than what my camera is able to capture.
Notably, it’s a much larger car than it appears thanks to the sensual, sweeping lines flowing from its low nose to its subtly upswept tail. The deep blue paint of my tester was stunning, and absolutely transformed in bright sunlight to the most flamboyant metallic finish this side of a 1970s candy paint job (as it should considering it’s a $3,500 add-on).
The 20-inch wheels fill out the fenders without looking cartoonish, and there’s just enough bling from the three-hole fender vents and badging to look premium without being garish. But it’s the front of the car that seems to catch the eyes of most fellow motorists and passersby. The squinting headlights and wide, toothy grille replete with the trident logo combine to make sure everyone knows this is no ordinary car.
Inside, supple leather covers darn near every surface except the parts that are wood or glass, its rich saddle brown hue countering the blue exterior beautifully. It’s an artful piece inside and out, the car’s style its best asset.
A number of other bigwig sedans on the market have perfume dispensers that spritz a bit of fragrance into the climate system. There’s no need for that here, as the Quattroporte’s leather fills the cabin with a rich bouquet that needs no artificial enhancement. Sadly, the lovely-looking seats aren’t quite as nice to the touch, with firm cushions and limited adjustability despite the supple upholstery they’re covered in. These days, 18- or 20-way adjustability is the norm in the premium market – as are massaging functions, which the Quattroporte lacks. The $4,800 upgraded rear seats in my tester have a slight recline function, as well as heating and ventilation, and there is ample legroom, but that’s no different than any other baller barges.
The ride, too, is good, but even in its softest adjustable setting it’s stiffer than the controlled float offered by the Mercedes-Benz S-Class or Lexus LS.
The Quattroporte is a very well-equipped car, but it’s also a costly one, and there are some areas where its feature count reveals its age. The sunroof, for instance, is small compared to the panoramic roofs that have become the norm in this segment and beyond. The heated seats and steering wheel are welcome in the winter months, but other cars in this class have heated armrests, too. The rear-seat climate control functions and electric sunshades for the side and rear windows are nice, and the soft-close doors and optional premium sound system are excellent, but these are all the expected elements in a car of this calibre.
User Friendliness: 6.5/10
Maserati’s infotainment system is controlled via an eight-inch centralized touchscreen. It’s all but identical to the Uconnect interface found in most other Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) products – Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, Jeep, and Fiat – and while it’s easy to work with, there are some features that require several screen taps to activate; for example, accessing the heated seats or switching satellite radio presets when the standard Apple CarPlay is in use.
Switchgear like the climate controls or steering wheel buttons will be familiar to Chrysler 300 owners if they’re ever fortunate enough to find themselves behind the wheel of the Quattroporte. Mind you, it all works well enough, and the primary gauges being big, round affairs, work well, too. It’s just that most other premium sedans have more elaborate integration of technology into their cabins that’s absent here.
Amusingly, despite the lack of seat adjustability, the pedals can be adjusted, and with the steering wheel at anything more vertical than a bus’s, the tops of the gauges are obscured, adding to a few of the, ahem, charms this car offers.
One additional note of concern: at one point during testing, when entering live traffic from a parking lot, the car somehow switched itself into park. I can’t say for sure I didn’t brush against the park button on the shifter, but I sure don’t remember doing so, and if traffic had been coming at me, it could’ve been a very worrisome situation.
Driving Feel: 8/10
If the Quattroporte’s style is its primary asset, its driving feel is its secret weapon. The big Maserati is actually longer than the standard wheelbase versions of the Mercedes S-Class, Lexus LS, and BMW 7 Series, but you’d never know it from behind the wheel. While all the cars in this class defy the laws of physics in terms of their ability to hustle at eyebrow-raising speeds, the Quattroporte does so while also feeling notably smaller and lighter than it is.
Even when tackling tight and narrow roads at speeds quicker than I should’ve, the Maserati was not only composed but properly fun to drive. The steering is quick and precise, and with the suspension in its firmest setting the car exhibits surprisingly little roll or dive under braking.
Likewise, the Quattroporte’s braking is equally accomplished with excellent initial bite, a solid-feeling pedal, and fierce stopping power. It makes sense that all those movie villains would choose the Quattroporte given how accomplished it would be as a getaway car.
If rating the Quattroporte’s power only a seven out of 10 here raises some eyebrows, well, it should. After all, the twin-turbocharged V6 not only puts out 424 hp, but it’s hand-built by Ferrari. Plus, the six-cylinders employed by the base model S-Class, LS, and Audi A8 all put out significantly less power. The Quattroporte is properly quick, too, hurling the big sedan forward with authority and a raspy-yet-sonorous exhaust note.
But the base engine in a BMW 7 Series is the company’s turbocharged V8 that dispenses a lot more power and torque, making the Bavarian a much more thrilling ride. And some of those other V6 competitors make more torque that comes on earlier in the rev range, making them feel as quick or quicker in daily driving.
Maserati also offers a V8 in the upper trims of the Quattroporte, but then an owner has to forgo the all-wheel drive found in this SQ4 car, rendering it only fractionally quicker, and everyone else has a V8 to offer, too.
Worse still, despite using the venerable ZF eight-speed automatic transmission that many other carmakers have used for years, Maserati has tuned it here to be neither as quick, aggressive, nor smooth as it should be. In normal drive mode, the transmission reaches for the tallest, most fuel-saving gear possible at the detriment of throttle response and acceleration. Several times when looking for a suitable squirt of passing power, I found nothing but lethargy and turbo lag for a few heartbeats before the powertrain woke up. Sport mode holds gears longer, but again, to a fault, refusing to upshift to seventh or eighth gear on the highway.
Fuel Economy: 5.5/10
With fuel consumption averages of 15.0 L/100 km in the city, 9.4 on the highway, and 11.5 combined, Maserati’s V6 is far from frugal, but it is in the same neighbourhood as other V6 competitors, and a few of the V8s. Premium fuel is recommended.
For a four-person grand tour or a weekend getaway, the Quattroporte would be a brilliant choice. It offers lots of practical passenger space for four adults, and the all-wheel drive suggests it could do so no matter what the weather. The trunk, at 530 L, is notably larger than those of the competitors; however, the back seats do not fold down, and compared to the flexibility of a comparably priced flagship SUV, the big sedan falls short.
Maserati fits the Quattroporte with all the active and passive safety elements expected in a premium car. Forward collision warning with emergency braking, plus pedestrian recognition, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, adaptive LED headlights, and blind-spot warnings are all standard equipment. Maserati also fits a surround-view camera system and active parking monitors, which glitched a few times, and were hypersensitive when they were operating.
After adding more than $16,000 in options, this test car topped out at $150,260 before freight and taxes. That’s a lot of money, but certainly within the realm of the Quattroporte’s primary competition from Germany and Japan. But Maserati has fallen behind on some of the technology and modernity offered by the competitors. To some, the Quattroporte’s exclusivity, handcrafted interior, and eye-catching styling will be worth more than gimmicks and gizmos found elsewhere, increasing its value to those buyers.
The Genesis G90 is a superior automobile to the Quattroporte in most quantifiable aspects, yet costs only 60 per cent of what this car does. But choosing a car in this category involves a certain level of hedonism, and the Quattroporte tempts the senses far better than nearly any other sedan. If a 7 Series, A8, or S-Class is simply too cold or too common for a more fashion-forward buyer, the more engaging Quattroporte may be just the answer. And for all those movie tough guys driving around in them, I get it now. This is the most bad-ass luxury car you can buy.
|Engine Cylinders||Twin-turbo V6|
|Peak Horsepower||424 hp @ 5,750 rpm|
|Peak Torque||428 lb-ft @ 2,250–4,000 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||15.0 / 9.4 / 11.5 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||530 L|
|Model Tested||2020 Maserati Quattroporte SQ4 Gran Lusso|
|Price as Tested||$152,560|
$16,660 – 3-coat paint, $3,550; Pieno Fiore Natural Leather, $2,200; Alcantara headliner, $1,200; 115V power outlet in rear console, $150; Twin individual rear seats and console, $4,800; Four-zone climate control, $1,200; B&W Sound System, $2,400; Shift paddles, $660; 20-inch Perseo silver wheels, $500