Maserati Quattroporte VI

Debut: 2013
Maker: Maserati
Predecessor: Quattroporte V

 Published on 6 Apr 2013 All rights reserved. 

Global sales of luxury cars have been outpacing the overall market in the past decade. 10 years ago, BMW, Mercedes and Audi combined to sell 3 million cars a year. Now the figure has grown to 4.75 million cars. Envying the success of German, Fiat group wants its Maserati division to take a larger slice of the luxury market. Last year, the Modena company delivered only 6,288 cars. By 2015, it has to sell 50,000 cars, or 8 times the current level. How can this be achieved? The answer lies on new models, of course. Later this year Maserati will add a mid-size sports sedan called Ghibli. It should rival Audi S6 and BMW M5 / M550d in a segment Modena used to omit. Next year will come Levante, the first SUV of the Italian sportscar brand (and undoubtedly a controversy). 2015 will see the next generation GranTurismo/GranCabrio. However, right now the most important is launching the 6th generation Quattroporte luxury saloon. Thanks to the addition of Ghibli, now it can be made larger and aim more squarely at F-segment rivals like Audi A8/S8, Mercedes S600/S63, BMW 750/760 and Jaguar XJ Supersport/XJR. That will give it access to much wider audiences, hence potentially multiple times of demand. China is especially the most promising market for such luxury limousines.

However, that sounds not very amusing to the fans of the old Quattroporte like us. Being larger and more mainstream could mean losing the old car's unique character – that sporty and engaging handling, that intoxicating scream of Italian high-revving V8 as well as the sense of occasion shown in its exterior design and interior craftsmanship. In fact, such a charming character let the old car to overcome its deficit in performance and consistently topped our F-segment performance car chart during the past 9 years! How can we be not worried?

At 5263 mm, the new Quattroporte is even longer than a long-wheelbase S-class, while its 1948 mm width exceeds the Mercedes limousine by 77 mm. Equally jaw-dropping is the 3171 mm wheelbase, which is the longest in class. Besides, the Quattroporte is also pretty tall at 1481 mm, i.e. 33 mm taller than Jaguar XJ. This car is really huge!

As a result, the cabin becomes a lot more spacious. While the old car was no roomier than a BMW 5-Series, the new car is as roomy as an S-class. Its rear passengers enjoy the greatest benefit, with a massive 105 mm more legroom to stretch. Chinese millionaires will enjoy to be chauffeured in this Maserati limo. Well, the Quattroporte is still intended to be a driver's car, but it no longer descends the rear seat passengers to second-class citizens.

Nevertheless, the new cabin is not all about good news. Yes, its simple design looks modern and intuitive to use. The new touchscreen infotainment system is million miles better than the crappy item on the old car, even though it actually comes from Dodge Dart. There is also plenty of wood, leather and alloy wrapping all surfaces, but the materials and build quality is a bit let down. It feels more Infiniti than Maserati, lacking the Italian craftsmanship traditionally linked with the marque. Maybe the production car will be better made than the pre-production sample, but I suspect the change of assembly location could be a factor – instead of Modena, its production takes place at the Grugliasco plant near Turin, which was acquired from Bertone a couple of years ago. It used to produce the old Opel Astra Coupe and BMW C1 scooter, so it might lack the necessary skill to build a luxury car like this. Moreover, some Chrysler-sourced switchgears feel out of place with the expensive car, lacking the tactility of German and British rivals.

The exterior is slightly better. The new car was designed by Fiat itself instead of Pininfarina (poor Pinin!). It keeps trademark features like the unique radiator grille, 3 side air outlets and a slightly cab-rearward profile. There are more sharp edges to create tension on the body surface. The design masks the massive length reasonably well, but it doesn't possess the charm of the old car. I am especially displeased with the addition of rear quarter windows, which damages the uncluttered feel of the old car and reduces the triangular effect of the C-pillars. This make the new car looks more mainstream and less unique. The tail can be more special, too.

On the plus side, the new shape is more slippery. Its drag coefficient of 0.31 might be nothing to be proud of these days, but it is already a lot better than the old car's 0.35. Lift is also reduced by 24 percent.

For a car so large, its 1900 kg kerb weight is quite remarkable. It is about the same as the aluminum-spaceframe XJ Supersport, 75 kg lighter than an Audi S8 and 145 kg lighter than a steel-bodied S63 AMG. Most important, it undercuts the old Quattroporte by 90 kg. The chassis is essentially a steel monocoque, but it employs plenty of light aluminum parts, such as the front subframe, cross strut, front shock towers, suspensions, front fenders, bonnet, boot lid and all 4 doors. Besides, the dashboard cross strut is made of magnesium. Weight distribution is a "perfect" 50:50, but from the viewpoint of skilled drivers it is actually not as perfect as the 47:53 of the old car. Obviously, Maserati has moved the engine forward to liberate more interior space and abandoned the rear-mounted transaxle for a conventional front-mounted one. The latter change has two reasons: to enable the very good ZF 8-speed automatic to be fitted, and to make 4WD option possible. The 4WD system will be available to the V6 engine. We'll leave it until it goes on sale later this year. For the rear-drive model, a mechanical LSD comes standard.

In line with current trend, the suspension up front is double-wishbone, while the rear is a 5-link setup. They are backed up with Skyhook adaptive dampers like the last generation. Braking should be remarkable, as it employs large Brembo dual-cast ventilated and cross-drilled discs with 380 mm front and 350 mm rear, accompanied with 6 and 4-piston calipers respectively.

What about the engine? It is still a Ferrari V8, but this time downsized to 3.8 liters and added with twin-turbo. If you let me choose, I would always prefer a naturally aspirated engine for sharper throttle response. Anyway, the outgoing 4.7-liter engine has run out of room for enlargement. Even if it could be enlarged to 5 liters, it would not have been possible to deliver the thick low-end torque that a heavyweight limousine needs, which is what exactly the old car cried for. The new Maranello-designed and built unit has its technology updated, including dual-VVT (instead of intake VVT), roller finger followers, direct injection and a pair of low-inertia twin-scroll turbochargers with individual intercoolers. The turbos are integrated with the exhaust manifolds to save weight and reduce lag. On-demand ancillaries and a lazier mode called ICE enables it to reduce fuel consumption and emission by 20 percent from the old engine. Meanwhile, the new motor pumps out 530 horsepower at 6800 rpm and 479 pound-foot of torque between 2000 and 4000 rpm. An overboost to 524 lbft is possible from 2250 to 3500 rpm. This is not only far more powerful and torquey than the old engine, but also a match to its larger capacity German rivals.

However, turbocharged or not, an Italian V8 is still more characterful than German ones. It is noticeably more eager to rev, as implied by its 7200 rpm redline and 6800 rpm power peak, thanks to its smaller capacity and oversquared combustion chambers (86.5 mm bore x 80.8 mm stroke). It also roars angrier at high rev, once the exhaust bypass valve opens.

The new V8 enables the Quattroporte to accelerate from 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds, a considerable improvement from the old car's 4.9 sec. Top speed is lifted from 177 to 191 mph. Maserati claims it to be the fastest 4-door saloon in the world, which is not true, because Bentley Continental Flying Spur Speed is good for 200 mph. Nevertheless, in the real world the new Quattroporte feels quicker than the figures suggested. Its new-found torque and its responsive ZF 8-speed gearbox enables it to overcome its weight with ease. Acceleration is instantaneous, unlike the old naturally aspirated V8 which needs to be revved hard yet delivered much less. You do miss the old engine's rev-happy character, keener throttle response and its even better sound, but the extra performance it offers is more than enough to compensate. Meanwhile, the 8-speed gearbox is a sizable improvement from the old 6-speeder. Its gearshift is impeccably smooth, responsive and accurate, and it never selects a gear wrong.

At low speed, the V8 is a different animal. It is as smooth and quiet as a limousine deserved. This dual-character makes the car a comfortable one when driven leisurely or an exciting one when driven hard.

A 410 hp 3.0-liter twin-turbo direct-injected V6 will be offered as a cheaper alternative. With a 60-degree V-angle instead of 90-degree, it is not exactly a modular derivative of the V8, but it employs much the same technology. Again, I will leave my judgment until it is available later this year.

How does the chassis behave on road? As it grows much wider and longer, the new car no longer slips into narrow country roads with confidence. You are always aware of the traffic at the opposite lane, so it is difficult to exploit its performance on such roads. Give it a wider road, you will find the new car is still remarkably neutral to steer. It resists body roll and understeer strongly, but it is no longer as easy to induce power slide at will, because the longer wheelbase introduces higher stability to the handling. The overall feeling is a more composed, more matured character. The grip it produced is excellent. Same goes for the powerful brakes.

The steering is still hydraulic assisted, no wonder it feels natural. It is quicker and reassuringly heavier than the old helm. What the new car doesn't match its predecessor is turn-in response. Blame to the 50:50 weight distribution and higher polar moment of inertia, it doesn't feel as razor sharp to steer. Following your steering action, the big body hesitates a moment before its suspension settles and turns into corner. This more inert manner shifts the new Quattroporte closer to the camp of Jaguar XJ Supersport. In other words, it no longer feels like a four-door sports car, sadly.

On the other hand, it isn't as smooth and quiet to ride as the Jaguar. Its suspension is firmer even in the softest setting. This results in a rather harsh ride on B-roads, although on highway at speed it is perfectly composed. The noise insulation is also less remarkable than conventional limousines. There is noticeably more road and wind noise entering the cabin, probably through the better looking frameless windows.

However, the biggest disappointment is still the big Maserati has traded its soul for more sales. The new car might be faster, more comfortable and overall more capable, but it also gets more ordinary in the process. To the fans of the old Quattroporte, this is hard to accept.
 Published on 20 May 2013 All rights reserved. 
Quattroporte S V6 Q4

The V6 version of Quattroporte costs 25 percent less than the V8 GTS, but it is 120 horsepower down. Does it deserve the trident badge? That depends on your view. If you buy Maserati purely for its performance edge and aural thrills, then I would say the V8 is a more worthy investment. However, as Maserati wants to lure less hardcore drivers from the camp of German luxury saloons like Audi A8, BMW 750i and Mercedes S500 to widen its customer portfolio and increase sales, the V6 could have a better chance. This is especially true as the V6 can be equipped with the Q4 all-wheel drive system, which should help its attraction in snow-belt countries including North America.

Like the V8, the V6 is engineered and built by Ferrari based on the same technologies, including direct injection, dual-VVT and twin-turbo. However, it is not exactly the V8 with 2 cylinders chopped away, as you can see from its 60-degree V-angle. Displacing 2979 cc, it has the same 86.5 mm bore but a longer stroke at 84.5 mm instead of 80.8 mm. This mean it is not as revvy – it cuts fuel at 6500 rpm instead of 7000 rpm. Despite that, it is still capable of producing a remarkable 410 horsepower, just 30 hp shy of the last 4.7-liter Quattroporte, and trumps the latter with 45 pound-foot more torque. As its peak torque is available from 1500 rpm all the way to 5000 rpm, its performance is a lot more accessible than the old car, too. Furthermore, the rear-drive V6 weighs some 130 kg less than the old car, no wonder it quotes the same performance – 177 mph top speed and 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds. Admittedly, the German rivals are even faster, but I suppose few people would complain the Maserati for being slow.

Opted for the Q4 system, the superior traction will minus the 0-60 mph sprint by a further 0.2 seconds. The Q4 is supplied by Magna, which has been offering a similar system to BMW under the trade name "xDrive" for a long time. In normal driving it is basically rear-drive. When tire slip is detected it engages the multi-plate clutch to distribute torque to the front axle. The front to rear torque split could be adjusted between 0:100 and 50:50 depending on needs. The transfer case is bolted just behind the ZF 8-speed automatic transmission. The system weighs only 60 kg thus it has little influence to weight distribution.

In the real world, the V6 feels strong and eager. It doesn't bark as angrily as its V8 brother, let alone the old naturally aspirated V8, but compared with the civilized interpretation of German luxury saloons it is definitely more exciting to hear, thanks to the crackle on engine overrun, so it still deserves the Trident badge. Maserati's hydraulic power steering is weightier and more feelsome than those of its rivals. Its handling is also more neutral. The AWD system feels mostly rear-drive but it adds extra security when you need it. Only when you push it very hard you can feel more understeer than the RWD version. On the downside, the Quattroporte never rides as smooth and quiet as its rivals. It absorbs big bumps good enough, but it fidgets on smaller road irregularities. After all, sporting is still part of the Maserati's DNA. Its buyers will be happy to see it keeping the traditional character while offering more space, creature comfort, safety and a lower entry price. While our hearts choose the V8 GTS, the V6 S Q4 appeals more to our heads.


Length / width / height
Valve gears
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque

Suspension layout

Suspension features

Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Quattroporte S V6 (Q4)
Front-engined, RWD (4WD)
Steel monocoque, aluminum sub-frame
Aluminum + steel
5262 / 1948 / 1481 mm
3171 mm
V6, 60-degree
2979 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT
410 hp / 5500 rpm
406 lbft / 1500-5000 rpm

8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbones
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
F: 245/40ZR20
R: 285/35ZR20
1860 kg (1930 kg)
177 mph (c) (176 mph (c))
4.9 (c) (4.7 (c))
Quattroporte GTS V8
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque, aluminum sub-frame
Aluminum + steel
5262 / 1948 / 1481 mm
3171 mm
V8, 90-degree
3799 cc
DOHC 32 valves, DVVT
530 hp / 6800 rpm
479 lbft / 2000-4000 rpm
(overboost 524 lbft)
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbones
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
F: 245/40ZR20
R: 285/35ZR20
1900 kg
191 mph (c)
4.5 (c) / 4.2*

Performance tested by: *C&D

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Quattroporte V8

Quattroporte V6 / V6 Q4

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