Tuesday

2007 Maserati Quattroporte Sport review


How would you classify a Maserati Quattroporte? I posed this question to a Maserati sales rep one day, and the answer was more difficult than either of us anticipated. The discussion that ensued spanned many topics ranging from her impressions to my experience behind the wheel. At first sight the Quattroporte looks like a full size Italian sedan built expressly to compete with the Germans and Brits. But does it?

Take for example the Mercedes S-Class. The Merc is big, comfy, full of gadgets, and in all the areas that I’ve lived, it has become an everybody-got-one status symbol. And the S is becoming outrageously overpriced. As of this writing, the MSRP for the S550 is $89,350. The bigger V8 of the S63 starts at $131,350 (!). The S600 - $147,450. And if you want the S that you won’t see on every city block, buy the S65… at $198,950 (!!). An almost $110,000 price jump on the SAME car – and this is with no options. The S is for status-minded people that would rather be chauffeured to work in a massage chair than engage in the art of driving. Hence it does not at all compare to the Quattroporte.

What about the 7-series? Much more reasonably priced at $80,000 – $85,000 base. While the design has improved from the 745 it still has a face only a mother could love. It sports the original and unabridged iDrive and doesn’t have the decency of including the M-button that made the M5 system tolerable (see review here). While I have not driven the current 7 I feel confident in saying that this adulterated technology has made the driving experience a shadow of what the car used to be. The Maserati is pretty and is not a living computer; thus not comparable to the BMW.

What do I mean by pretty? The QP marked a turn in recent Maserati design from Giugiaro and Italdesign to Pininfarina Design Studios. Not that the Giugiaro Maser Coupe was not pretty, but the body shape of the QP (and later the GranTurismo) pays better homage to the donor of much of what makes Maserati today: Ferrari. El Grouppo Ferrari Maserati was the partnership that spawned the QP, and this is readily seen inside and outside the car. The exterior has not changed drastically through the production of the QP, but subtle tweaks have only enhanced the appearance.

My ride was a 2007 model with a slightly more potent 4.3-liter Sport package (buyers can now choose a QP Sport GT “S” with the 4.7 liter V8). That’s a lot of oomph potential. Yet the engine is surprisingly light weight given the aluminum and silicon materials. The lighter engine allows for near perfect weight distribution – testifying to the true nature of the car. As do the red-painted valve covers. And did I mention this purebred Italian engine can scream to 7300 rpm? And I do mean scream. A neighbor of mine in Brooklyn owned one and I would often see him getting his cup of coffee in the morning. To get where he needed to go next usually involved cutting the block. An Italian V8 reverberating off the cramped buildings of the Heights will turn any head, but it seemed that this particular driver was always on the throttle, trying to make noise. I didn’t realize until I drove one myself that he was not abusing the car – this is in fact how it sounds even at low speeds and revs. I say turn it up!

The rest of the car is well suited to handle this power as well. Though the transmission is in reality an automatic, it is very quick to respond and adapt to your right-foot indulgence. There is a manual “mode” that transfers control of the gearbox to your hands via paddles on the wheel. I still believe you are driving an automatic (the GranTurismo S review actually had the real Ferrari-designed F1 transmission), but the car still responds quickly and confidently to the flick of your wrist. The ASR traction control is phenomenal, keeping the car solid through the tightest turns, and Maserati has only improved it with the Skyhook suspension system (unfortunately not on the car I drove). Brakes are by Brembo, “as they should be” to quote Maserati. For some extra money, paint your calipers.

The purposeful design and quality is also carried through inside the car. Maserati went an interesting direction with the doors. For many years, the luxury brands (especially in America) had a faddish desire to include systems on the doors and trunk to cushion closing. You do half the work, and the car would gently close the appendage the rest of the way. Maserati thought differently. They believed it would be more practical to ease entry into the car, not exit out of it. So merely run your finger over the latch (which you will find on the backside of the handle) and the door will open effortlessly. A nice touch when your carrying shopping bags or luggage. Oh yeah, make sure to check out the fitted luggage available. I would never check it at an airport, but the weekend driving getaway will enjoy a new level of style.

Inside sweet-smelling Poltrana Frau leather covers all seats and much of the dashboard and console. You’ll find the driver seat to already feel mostly adjusted for good driving, though all seats front and rear can be adjusted electronically. Trim packages appeal to the businessman and sportsman alike. The Executive series offers fine natural woods while the Sport packages use aluminum, ebonized wood, or carbon fibre. A larger computer system is available to the rear passengers, but this effectively limits the seating capacity to 4. The gauges are simple and easy to read, almost a sophisticated understatement. And with all of the customization options available, you can be sure never to buy the same car as your neighbor. Though the Germans may throw more gadgets inside their cars, Maserati makes it plain that they are not interested in tech-heads and college preppies. Sit in the Quattroporte and you will feel like someone special, a cut above the mainstream. You will feel like you have transcended the monotonous playground antics of “my Merc has this” or “my Bimmer can do this.” You answer simply, “I drive a Maserati.”




And boy does it drive. I already mentioned what others will hear as you drive by, and though the QP is well-insulated from road noise, you can enjoy plenty of the engine even with the windows up. You can click off gears with ease and, similar to the GranTurismo, if you think you are approaching redline, you probably have almost 2000 rpm to go. What I enjoyed most about the Quattroporte in a straight line is that you could indulge your adolescence quite well before you start breaking laws. Don’t get me wrong – the QP will break laws faster than most other luxury and sport sedans (the current QP S will reach 60 in a meager 5 seconds), but the journey to felonious speed will be a pleasure from start to finish. And in a land full of S-class Mercs, you will stand out proudly from the rest in looks, sound, and performance.

Put the Quattroporte into a corner and you will again be well rewarded. It does not have AWD, but the suspension and traction control will keep the car in perfect control around the tightest bends. I would say that it corners as well as the stiffest 5-series though it is the size of a 7. In fact, it was in a tight bend that I realized what kind of a gem of a car I had found. It was surprisingly good despite all of my expectations of driving a Maser. Sadly this revelation came close to the end of my drive and I would not experience that joy again until I drove the GranTurismo S. For all of you that want a 2-door sport GT but out of necessity must have a family car, this is the car for you and you make no compromises.

To my utter misfortune, though, I feel I wasted my drive in the Quattroporte. I got in this car right on the heels of the Bentley Continental GT and Aston DB9 review. Having had my senses assaulted by the Aston, I was a little less enthused about the QP than I should have been. As I mentioned, I did not realize how good this car was until the end of the drive, and I found there was so much more it had to offer me. I would welcome, even look for any other opportunity to drive it again. And for you prospective buyers, a very nice example one or two years old is very accessible. 2005 to 2006 QPs can be gotten all day long in the $40 - $50,000 range. 2007 to 2008 may cost you $70 - $90,000. For an MSRP of over $130,000, that’s not bad at all. Consider also that you will drop $80 - $100,000 on the most basic 750i or S550 – and you are guaranteed to see 4 others just on your way home from the dealer.

There’s only a few drawbacks to owning the Maserati. The nav system and electronic toys are admittedly behind the times (but who cares when you’re lost with that engine noise?). Service areas are few and far between – a reason that one of my friends passed on the Maser. You may not make friends with the ecologists either, though your next best option for a German sedan has a twin-turboed V12.

So to answer the question “How would you classify the Maserati Quattroporte?” The sales rep and I discussed all of the above about the car – the quality, the performance, the sensation. If you enjoy these things and hate the one-upmanship that springs from Deutschland marques, the QP is leaps and bounds beyond all other European executive cars. And even buying it new, it’s a fraction of the cost of the some of its competitors. In the end, the rep and I came up with the same answer to the question at the same time: “It’s a Maserati.”

5 comments:

Chris said...

The really cool thing about this particular car that cannot be overemphasized is the sport feeling that Maserati has encoded into the QP's DNA. Previous to experiencing the QP, my favorite large sedan was the 740i Sport from around the turn of the century. Boz is right - the current 7 does nothing to stir the memories of a large sedan that can be driven like a sports car. I've driven a 760 (review pending) and without giving too much away, let's just say the drive didn't last long - by MY choice. BMW simply left the upper end of the market wide open to Maserati.

While I love (and still do love) the BMW 550i, there simply is no better sport sedan on the market today. It's worth the extra bucks. Yes, most of the AMG stock will outrun it in a straight line, but for igniting your inner Michael Schumacher, the QP does it as only an Italian thoroughbred can.

Simply put, the QP will redefine your expectations of a sport sedan.

Marc said...

While I do like the Maserati, I have to admit that it does get pricey, and that may be a problem for those who want all the options, but then again, who even cares when you think that these options are meaningless.

Chris said...

One really great feature of the Maserati QP that doesn't get a lot of attention - for those of us NOT of unlimited means - is the eye watering depreciation that comes standard. If you can wait a year or two and don't mind a few thousand miles on them, you'd be surprised at how quickly the price falls. All of a sudden, it becomes to look downright reasonable compared to a lot of other makes and models.

Marc said...

Yeah, I agree. It is indeed possible that it could cost the same as a used Mercedes E350.

sc-19 said...

Easily one of the best sounding engines ever produced imho

Great Blog bye the way :-)

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