This is the Maserati Four Door. Doesn’t sounds as exciting as ‘Quattroporte’, does it? The name tells me a lot about the car – it tells me that the Italian are capable of injecting soul into something even as mundane as four doors. This car is anything but mundane, and that’s exactly what I discover on my day out with Maserati’s bombshell.
The Quattroporte’s charm lies in its mix of elegance and raw masculinity, and it hasn’t faded even seven years after it was launched. The long nose and narrow eyes give it a watchful, wary look while in a throwback to the first-generation car, the oval grille pouts petulantly. Set within are concave vertical slats that differentiate this GT S from the standard quattroporte. Taking centre stage is the beautifully detailed Trident of Neptune, above which the taut hood rises magnificently towards the windshield. Just as eye-catching is the beautiful waistline that rolls off the wheel arches, ebbing gently under the front window before swelling up over the rear wheel arches.
The wider, more pronounced haunches give the Maserati an athletic, ready-for-action stance while the three stylised vents behind the front wheel arches add a sporty touch. The rear is understated yet classy with a high-set boot cupped by distinctive triangular tail-lamps. The four exhausts poking out of the bottom remind you that there’s a lot going on under the skin here.
There is generous use of Alcantara on the inside. You see it on the steering wheel, the door pads and even the roof, clearly marking this as a luxury car. Sadly, the GT S Awards Edition’s plain plastic finish for for the centre console surround, air vents and other parts of the cabin, is disappointing. The GT s version, in comparison, gets a smart carbon-fibre finish. The layout of the controls and switches and the plain air vent are a few area that give an indication of the age of the Quattroporte’s design.
Other than that, there’s no reason to complain. There’s ample space and the fully powered seats offer good support. The rear seat proved to be astonishingly good too, with great kneeroom and support. The Award Edition comes with electric controls for recline and under-thigh adjustments to make things more confortable. Headroom can get a bit tight for taller passengers, but you won’t care once you get behind the wheel.
This Maserati wears a badge of honour – mellow red stripes at the base of the Trident mark it as a Sports Edition. So the full name is a mouthful – Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT S Awards Edition. But the real introduction to the stunner occurs when you twist the key and bring the Maranello-made 4.7-litre 90deg V8 to action. I did so and, with a sudden, grin-inducing burst of revs and V8 thunder, the 440bhp creature sprang to life.
I eagerly eased into the busy streets of Modena, expecting more drama from the Quattroporte.But instead of snarling and spitting in the slow traffic, the car felt like a big cat out for a languid stroll. Unlike the screamers from Ferrari, the Maserati motors are engineered to deliver accessible power. The engine was loafing around under 2000rpm, ever ready to quicken its pace when required. Accentuating the languidness of the drive was the lush gearbox. Gearchanges were pleasantly slurred, barely perceptible.
However, bumps and light ruts on the road did relay a few ripples into the cabin. While Maserati offers adjustable suspension on other Quattroporte models, the GT S get non-adjustable suspension that’s tuned to deliver divine dynamics rather than a cushy ride. The resulting ride isn’t uncomfortably stiff or harsh, but it’s not quite what a luxury car’s occupants would expect either.
But then, this is no ordinary luxury car, as the GT S amply proved once we got outside city limits. Donning its best grand-touring manner, the GT S broke into a lazy lope. The engine rumbled pleasantly, shrugging self-effacingly as it covered ground faster. The bumps in the road weren’t brother anymore. And once I hit the ‘Sport’ button, I got an instant case of goose bumps. A small flap in the exhaust flipped open, uncorking a rich baritone that made even the highway cruise a spine-tingling experience.
My next target was Serramazzoni, a small town on top of the nearby hills. The route made for a perfect opportunity to use the extra power available in ‘Sport’ mode. The Quattroporte was raring to pounce once it cast its narrow eyes on the winding, hilly road ahead; I obliged, and stomped it. The V8 bounded from 2000rpm to the redline in one clean sweep, sending the big saloon leaping ahead with stern determination. Tapping the ‘Sport’ mode unlocked more revs, letting the engine scream to 7200rpm. The exhaust roared in satisfaction.
The Quattroporte is fast, thrilling and relentless, but without the neck-snapping, sportscar rawness. But two tonnes of steel, Alcantara and four seats do weigh the car down a bit. However, like a luxury car, this Maserati doesn’t discomfit the occupants with the noise, discomfit the occupants with the noise, vibration and harshness of a sportscar either. The feisty engine has a good friend in the slick ZF six-speed gearbox. Keeping the mood in mind, the gearchanges become delightfully hurried and can be felt through the seat. The result is a company-claimed 0-100kph time of 5.1 seconds and a top whack of 285kph. The gearbox blips the throttle when shifting down and even shifts down when you brake for a corner. In full manual mode the engine goes ‘’WHRA-BARA-BARA-BARA-BARA’’ as you hit the limiter, and doesn’t get any respite until you pull on the long, curved paddle shift for the next cog. The gearbox won’t shift down gears either unless it senses that the engine will stall.
Spend some time charging around corners and you’ll forget that there’s another row of seats and a big boot behind you. You’ll only remember when the backseat passengers start feeling very, very queasy. At the first tight, uphill hairpin, without really knowing what to expect from this five-metre-long luxury barge, I chucked it in. VROOM, VROOOM, the engine downshifted quickly. As it slowed, it only gained more potency. The Quattroporte arrived at the corner full of steely determination. Then, without hesitation, it attacked.
The GT S’ stiffer suspension and lower ride height will only let the big saloon roll so much. The 49:51 front-to-rear weight distribution along with the front mid-engine layout give the Quattroporte remarkable balance even on the limit. The car turns in, picks a line and hangs on to it rear tight even as the rear wheels shunt you forward. Nail the throttle just before the apex and the rear will come sliding out. But before you know it, the Maserati Stability Program will cut in and bring things back in line.
The linear steering is quite direct but you can’t help but wish for more weight and feedback to match its stellar dynamics. With 360mm discs in the front and 330mm discs in the rear, braking hard in the GT S is like dropping anchor, although the pedal feel is mushy. So while the Quattroporte’s agility and thrills are remarkable, Jaguar’s newer super-luxury saloon, the XJ, has the edge in terms of pure driving pleasure.
A day spent charging up and down the Emilia Romagna region in the Quattroporte Sport GT S Awards Edition showed why it has become the best-selling Maserati ever. A few foibles aside, this is a car that’s game for spirited driving. The backseat is truly welcoming too, although it is let down by the slightly stiff low speed ride on the Awards Edition we drove – the adjustable suspension on other models will make backseat comfort better still.
The Quattroporte range in India starts at a pricey Rs 1.2 crore, but the way it combines effortless performance with backseat luxury in an elegant package makes it seem well worth it. So much so that replacing the Quattroporte must be giving many at Maserti’s headquarters sleepless nights.