Master of Design - Maserati Quattroporte
Being in love with Maserati ever since I can remember and one of my first toys I could assemble was a Maserati. Needless to say I was very happy to be invited to the launch of the new Maserati Quattroporte and to be sitting next to Lorenzo Granai, a racing driver from Italy, who aided us in getting to know and understand this stellar Italian machine before taking it onto the open road.
In 1963, the Quattroporte blended the qualities of speed, style and luxury in a body by Pietro Frua and Maserati has been considered a master of sports sedan design ever since. Sixth generation, the Quattroporte’s potent engines and large cabin are, as always, are at the core of its design and further dominated by its long, impressive nose.
The design is still as distinctive and exclusive as ever and brought to life in a harmonious combination of muscular lines, elegance and sportiness. The three-dimensional grille immediately conveys its essence, thanks to its vertical, convex ribs. Inspired by the Gran Turismo, the Quattroporte’s black exterior colouring contrasts with the surrouding chrome and Trident symbol at the centre. The interior design achieves elegant simplicity, with clean lines and user-friendly instrumentation.
The Quattroporte’s interior pivots around a driver interface and most functions are controlled by buttons alongside the gearshift lever. Other on-board settings can be set by the driver via the Maserati Touch Control (MTC) at the centre of the dashboard. The instrument cluster sports a large speedometer and tachometer flanking a 7-inch Thin-Film Transistor (TFT) display for many of the car’s operational features.
Standard equipment includes heated leather front seats with 12-way electrical adjustment, dual-zone, climate controlled air conditioning and active cruise control. The upper and lower dashboard and the interior upholstery are wrapped in fine Poltrana Frau leather.
While the standard equipment is sumptuous, Maserati also provides an exceptional degree of personalisation with a vast range of materials for the client to choose from, including wood, carbon fibre, leather, Alcantara among numerous other optional choices.
The new Quattroporte’s standard audio system delivers outstanding power and sound quality, based around 10 speakers and a 600W amplifier.
One feature is evident from the start: the maximisation of the available space to benefit the occupants. Special attention has been paid to rear passengers and the leg room available is the widest in the standard-wheelbase class.
The interior not only features unique styling and materials, but also uses diffused lighting to further enhance the interior look and the quality of the occupant experience when driving at night.
The system uses an optical fibre running along the dashboard and doors and even in the door handle cavities and door pockets, to give the interior a modern, upmarket look.
The front and rear ceiling lights consist of a diffused lighting lamp and two separate reading lights. Along with these, two LEDs, concealed in the ceiling, give constant, soft light to the area beneath them. The foot area is illuminated. The brightness of the light can be adjusted with a dimmer.
I knew what to expect performance-wise from these magnificent vehicles and was not disappointed. The only really noticeable difference is the subdued sound from the back pipes. Although much, much quieter, they still produce a lovely racing sound – just more refined.
All versions of the new Quattroporte are fitted with the ZF AT8 – HP70 eight-speed automatic transmission that delivers faster gear-shifting, reduced fuel consumption and reduced NVH, compared to the six-speed automatic in the outgoing Quattroporte.
As befitting Maserati tradition, the Quattroporte has five dedicated shift modes: Auto Normal, Auto Sport, Manual Normal, Manual Sport and ICE (Increased Control and Efficiency). I have had the opportunity to drive in all five modes. Although they seem to be the same, there are definite differences setting them apart.
Auto Normal is the Quattroporte’s default setting and performs gear changes with fluid shifts at low engine speeds to emphasise the car’s comfort and minimise fuel consumption.
The Auto Sport mode sees the transmission switch character changing gears with greater alacrity at higher engine speeds and delivers a distinct gear engagement to enhance the sporty feel of the power train.
In Manual Normal mode, the driver can change gear with either the gearshift paddles attached to the steering column, or by using the transmission lever.
In Manual Sport mode however, the gearshifts are at their fastest and crispest, giving the driver full control of the power train. The system will not intervene, even if the driver strikes the engine’s rev limiter. It will only intervene if the engine’s revs drop too low to be effective in a given gear.
The ICE mode is designed for remarkable fuel economy, relaxed driving and also for use in low-grip conditions. The transmission softly changes gear, whether changing up or down.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
Both the V8 and the V6 are remarkable cars and individual tastes will be the deciding factor. I believe the V8 with its Ferrari California engine will be the favourite and also be the most economical engine of the two derivatives. Of course, that is when cruising and not driving like most Maserati drivers.
Like all things Italian, this is another beautifully sculpted piece of art to be used for everyday pleasures.
OUT OF OFFICE | CAR REVIEW
by Carl Wepener
ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox
4.7 seconds (0–100kmh)
R2 244 000
ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox
5.1 seconds (0–100kmh)
R1 977 000
* Prices as at date of publishing