IT’S NOT every day you walk in to a showroom and end up eyeballing a line of five Maserati Quatrroportes, but that was the case at Lorbek’s recently, and we ended up taking out a late update of the fifth generation. That means it’s a 2012 car, in this case running largely standard spec.
Practical Italian supercar sounds like a phrase heavily loaded with contradictions, but that in essence is what the Quattroporte is aiming for. It’s not exactly a crowded market. Shut your eyes, and the V8 sounds Italian, with a belting raucous note at the appropriate moments, including a warning growl on start-up. Open them and there’s no question someone (okay, a team) has gone to a lot of trouble to make the driver/owner feel pleased with their purchase. You’re sort of hunkered down into a leather-wrapped cocoon.
This was simply a quick spin to get an impression, so we’re not going to pretend it’s a pukka test. Looking at what people said about this car at release, there’s no doubting there’s an element of ‘Maserati does what it damn well feels like’ when it comes to setting parameters on what makes up a four-door car.
And there are some contradictions. It’s big, luxurious and there’s no issue with throwing four adults on board. But there’s clearly a sporting heritage in the presentation and the mechanicals. Features such as having the engine set well back so the weight is primarily behind the axle line say a lot about the intentions of the designers, and the car’s dynamics.
Up front there’s a 4.2 litre 32-valve alloy V8 claiming 400 horses (298kW) tied to a six-speed electronic transmission with full auto or paddle options. Straight line performance is something of the order of 5.6 sec to 100km/h, so it’s quick.
It’s riding on 18-inch alloys with giant brake calipers peering out through the minimal spokes. There’s the expected electronic safety nets on board – ABS and high-end traction controls, multiple airbags – but really that’s not front of mind when you climb in.
This generation effectively ran 2003 to 2012 with numerous upgrades and variants along the way, including some more performance-oriented versions. However you hardly feel cheated when steering this thing. It feels quick, makes some great noises, and gives a sense of control.
The closest thing to it that we’ve driven in recent times is an Aston Martin Rapide, which has that same sense of a mailed fist in a velvet glove approach. And you can see why, despite the rarified market they play in, Quattroportes seem to sell in reasonable quantity.
What got our attention with this example was the mileage, just 20,000km on the odo. In practical terms, you’re close to buying a new car for a fraction of the original sticker price.
BODY 4-door sedan
ENGINE 4.2-litre four-valve V8
POWER & TORQUE 298kW /460Nm
PERFORMANCE 0-100km/h – 5.6sec Top speed – 270km/h
TRANSMISSION 6-speed ZF electronic auto with paddle option
SUSPENSION Front/Rear – Independent with unequal wishbones, coils, gas dampers and anti-roll bars
BRAKES Front and rear ventilated discs with ABS
WHEELS 18-inch alloys