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NEW CAR REVIEW

Maserati Quattroporte

LA DOLCE VITA

by Andy Enright

The Quattroporte was always a special Maserati model; in effect a sportscar dressed up as a big saloon where its rivals were big saloons dressed up as sportscars.

This latest sixth-generation version is a big step forward, with a radically different engine line-up coupled with more space and less weight.

The ethos of the old Quattroporte was that this was a saloon that drove like a sports coupe. If you wanted silent cosseting, you should have visited a Lexus dealer.

The Maserati had a firm ride, an urgent engine note and was fantastic fun to hustle through a set of bends.

Chatting with some Maserati personnel, they don’t expect that to change with the latest car, with its official unveil at the 2013 Detroit Show. What has changed - and quite radically - are the engineering details.

Instead of a big normally aspirated V8 petrol engine doing the spadework, Maserati is going to an all turbo line-up, with a diesel engine also slated for inclusion at some point.

Expect to see a 2.8-litre twin-turbo V6 as the entry-level engine. But what an entry level. With a power output of 407bhp, this engine crucially dips under the 3.0-litre capacity limit at which punitive taxes are charged in the lucrative Chinese market. It’s set to be the big seller in the range.

Want more under your right boot? Try the 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 that’s good for 523bhp. This is closely related to a Ferrari design, although the Ferrari engine is said to feature a cross-plane crank for more power but slightly less torque.

The 2.8-litre engine will also be available with all-wheel drive but sadly not for right-hand drive markets. Apparently the steering column would foul the driveshaft plane. Power for all Quattroporte models is directed through a ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Measuring over five metres from tip to tail, the old Quattroporte wasn’t a small car but nevertheless rear seat accommodation was quite tight when you had taller occupants up front.

Maserati has worked to improve the packaging of this latest model. It grows by 163mm in length to a hefty 5263mm but there have been big gains in rear legroom thanks to a much longer wheelbase. In other words, the Quattroporte has now been transformed into a car that could now appeal to the chauffeur market as well as to buyers who just want pedal the thing themselves.

You can specify a two-seat rear bench with a central divider, or a three-seater that splits and folds to extend the bigger and longer boot.

Maserati looks to be adhering to a very sensible development plan for this latest sixth-generation Quattroporte. Not a lot needed doing to the basic styling of the old car, so the exterior design is nicely evolutionary.

The interior has been extensively modernised and is far more spacious, with less of the cheap plastic switchgear which rather dated its predecessor.

Removing weight, developing more efficient engines and fitting a sharper-witted automatic gearbox were always the three priorities from a dynamic perspective and these look to have been achieved. What’s not to like?

FACTS AT A GLANCE

CAR: Maserati Quattroporte

PRICES: £80,000-£125,000 - on the road [est]

INSURANCE GROUP: 50

CO2 EMISSIONS: [3.8 V8] 278g/km

PERFORMANCE: [3.8 V8] 0-60mph 4.7s / Max Speed 191mph

FUEL CONSUMPTION: [3.8 V8] (combined) tba mpg

STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: Full equipment list yet to be announced

WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE?: Length 5263mm