Maserati Quattroporte

Tech upgrades move Italian stallion closer to German rivals

JOHN CAREY

FIRST OVERSEAS DRIVE

DOESN’T time fly when you’re revitalising a brand? It doesn’t seem so very long ago that Maserati was launching its sixth-generation Quattroporte. But that was back in 2013, and the big sedan is due for an update.

In the intervening years the Italian brand has pumped out two all-new models in fairly quick succession – the Ghibli sedan and the Levante SUV.

Maserati sales have soared as a result. So what has Maserati done to revamp the model that initiated its renaissance?

What they haven’t done is make major changes to the car’s mechanicals. There are two modifications worth mentioning, neither major enough to significantly affect the way the Quattroporte drives: An electrically actuated air shutter in front of the car’s radiator and tidier undertray cut aero drag by 10 percent, enough to yield slightly higher top speeds; and a small power increase (14kW) for the non-S version of Maserati’s 3.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V6.

The focus for this update was instead on adding driver-aid technologies, bringing the big Italian into the slipstream of its German rivals. It now has, for example, adaptive cruise control, which works well. And the system’s radar, working with a video camera, enables new autonomous braking and collision-warning systems. The updated Quattroporte isn’t in the same league as the almostautonomous S-Class, but it’s way closer than it was.

Maserati’s biggest move with the update is the introduction of two new model grades, GranLusso and GranSport, that combine a number of exterior and interior features, providing two distinctly different ways to upgrade the V6 models.

At least, that’s the way it will work in other parts of the world.

For the Australian and New Zealand markets, the petrol V6 models – in base 257kW and 302kW S versions – will be imported only in GranLusso or GranSport grades. So, too, will the range-topping GTS, with its stonking 390kW twin-turbo 3.8-litre V8. Only the Diesel model, with its 202kW singleturbo 3.0-litre V6, will miss out.

GranSport combines standard 21-inch wheels with an exterior look that puts the emphasis on visual aggression. A package of carbon adornments that are optional in Europe will be standard here. Inside the Quattroporte, GranSport means specific new sports seats and steering wheel, and lashings of piano-black wood.

GranLusso rolls instead on 20-inch wheels, and is offered with Maserati’s exclusive Ermenegildo Zegna silk interior.

Wheels sampled the updated Quattroporte in both GranLusso and GranSport specs. While the GranSport’s big rims noticeably improve proportion and stance, they do nothing for ride comfort, which is too stiff in Dynamic driving mode on the bumpy roads in Sicily where the launch was staged. Normal mode, in contrast, made the big Maserati feel distinctly ‘boaty’ over the crests and troughs of the choppy blacktop outside Palermo.

The Quattroporte remains a more alive and engaging drive than the big Germans, which tend to feel remote and hyper-technical from behind the wheel, but the update hasn’t dealt with some of its flaws; the gear selector lever is a stinker (it’s not easy to tell which gear you’ve got or whether Park is engaged) and the awkward arrangement of shift paddles and stalks sprouting from its steering column could easily be improved.

Maybe next update…

PLUS & MINUS

Stiff ride in Sport mode; ergonomic faults; lacks Germanic quality Dramatic drivetrain; handling; distinctive Italianate interior fit-out Model Engine Max power Max torque Transmission Weight 0-100km/h Economy Price On sale el eren t hyee Maserati Quattroporte S GranSport 2979cc V6 (60°), dohc, 24v, twin-turbo 302kW @ 5500rpm 550Nm @ 1750-5000rpm 8-speed automatic 1860kg 5.1sec (claimed) 9.6L/100km (EU) $250,000 (estimated) December

SHARK ATTACK 01

A new grille with vertical chromed bars adds extra ‘sharkness’ to the nose. Behind the glitter is a new electric air shutter to block airflow through the radiator when engine cooling needs are modest. With a redesigned undertray, this tech contributes to a 10 percent drag reduction.

02 LOOKING FORWARD

Camera top and centre of the windscreen points to the presence of autonomous emergency braking, one of a package of advanced driveraid technologies now part of standard Quattroporte fit-out.

BETTER TOUCH POINTS 03

The Quattroporte gains a new 8.3-inch touchscreen display and a redesigned centre console housing a stacked pair of rotary controllers, a kind of a twostorey iDrive arrangement that was introduced in the Levante.

Clever cruise

One of the new Quattroporte’s neatest and, once a slower car tricks is the way its new Adaptive Cruise Control system responds to the mode selected by the driver. Choose Sport ahead moves out of your way, the big Maserati accelerates more briskly than in Normal mode back to the set speed.

Smart. And overdue.

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