Review: 2009 Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT S

Review: 2009 Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT S

Let's get the negatives out of the way first. The steering on the Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT S is slightly numb on center, the brakes have an eerie dead spot before they bite, the ride quality is brittle on broken pavement, and the shift paddles feel cheap. And to that, we have to say, "Who cares?" There are too many other things to love about the Quattroporte.

The Sport GT S - Maserati's most driver-focused Quattroporte yet - combines all of the best features that have trickled into the gorgeous Italian four-door since it launched more than five years ago. These items include dual-cast Brembo brakes (aluminum hubs, iron rotors), Bilstein dampers paired with stiffer springs, a brilliant ZF six-speed automatic transmission, and a Ferrari-built 4.7-liter V-8. The result is the most emotionally appealing luxury sedan on sale today.

If you have any doubts about that assertion, all you need to do is accelerate the V-8 past 7000 rpm while driving through a tunnel. With a simple push of the sport button on the dash, the dual-mode mufflers belt out a symphony of exotic, tantalizing music that reminds you why normally aspirated engines still offer tremendous appeal. Sure, this powertrain provides horrendous fuel economy - 11 mpg city and 18 mpg highway, according to the EPA - but the Quattroporte's exhaust note alone might make you forget about that.

And it's not as if the Quattroporte's competition - cars such as the Audi S8 and the Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG - are much, if any, friendlier at the pump. After all, these low-volume cars are all about performance and pedigree, not efficiency, and that's where the Maserati shines. The aforementioned German sedans are basically luxury cars with bigger engines, larger brakes, and stiffened suspensions. They go to battle with a big stick and a take-no-prisoners attitude. The Quattroporte is different. What it gives up in displacement and raw grunt, it easily makes up for in handling. The 433-hp V-8 is mounted behind the front axle, and 51 percent of the car's 4375-pound mass sits over the rear wheels. No other large luxury sedan can dance like the Quattroporte. Front-end grip is beyond reproach, and you can adjust the big, beautiful four-door's cornering line with the throttle, as in a Ferrari. In the Audi and the Mercedes, by comparison, you always feel as if a computer is helping you go fast, and you sometimes wonder what happened to the fun.

As for practical considerations, it's true that Maseratis have never been known for quality or resale value, although the company has made great strides recently in those regards. So we certainly can't fault anyone for choosing one of the German cars instead, but we also can't think of another large luxury sedan that rewards its driver as much as the Quattroporte does - or one that looks so good doing it.

The Specs:

On sale: Now
Price: $138,100
Engine: 4.7L V-8, 433 hp, 361 lb-ft
Drive: Rear-wheel

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