This is the latest in our new series of short-take reviews on cars and trucks, in which we concentrate on a powertrain or trim level not previously covered. –Ed.
Maseratis look, smell, and sound like nothing else on the road. The very word, Maserati, calls to mind a summer vacation in Italy’s Umbria region. The brand hopes to capitalize on this mystique and broaden its appeal with new models, like the Maserati Quattroporte S Q4. This version of Maserati’s flagship sedan sports two critical new features: a V-6 and all-wheel drive. It offers the advantages you’d expect of this setup—it’s more efficient than the V-8-powered Quattroporte and has great traction whether you’re storming along the Italian coast or crawling through a Michigan snowstorm. But is it still special? That’s the question we fixated on when a $119,150 Quattroporte S Q4 came through our office.
The Quattroporte’s 3.0-liter V-6, engineered by Ferrari, fires up with an angry snarl. The dramatic exhaust note quickly dispels any notion that a six-cylinder Quattroporte can’t be sporty. So do the specifications. The twin-turbo six puts out 404 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. Maserati says the V-6 powered, all-wheel-drive Quattroporte will hit 60 mph in 4.9 seconds.
That said, the engine doesn’t quite replicate the free-breathing character of a Maserati V-8. “The engine is reserved—lazy even—unless you select sport mode and gun it,” says associate web editor Jake Holmes. The eight-speed automatic shifts smoothly—no one here misses the old DuoSelect sequential manual transmission—but copy editor Rusty Blackwell notes that the shift paddles don’t feel as finely crafted as those in the old car.
Indeed, many small parts drew big complaints. The Ebano wood interior trim, a $1690 option, is so polished that it looks like plastic. (Maserati also offers more fashionable open-pore wood trim.) More damning are the Chrysler bits. Some of these parts are quite good. The uConnect touchscreen interface is not only a lot better than Maserati’s previous efforts but also beats what many luxury competitors offer. The door handles and the chunky key fob, on the other hand, are chintzy for a car that starts for more than $100,000. “The nicest Chrysler 300 I’ve ever driven,” quips Holmes.
OK, we’re not seriously suggesting this Italian sedan will be confused with a Chrysler product. And we readily concede that brands like Lamborghini and Bentley have successfully borrowed parts from mainstream Volkswagens. Yet, we couldn’t quite shake the feeling that something—something special—is missing from the newest Quattroporte. “It feels like a luxury car, but it doesn’t have that sense of occasion one hopes for in a Maserati,” says managing editor Amy Skogstrom. As Maserati further expands its lineup with the 2014 Ghibli and the upcoming Levante SUV, it will need to pay careful attention to the little details that make its vehicles so special.
2014 Maserati Quattroporte S Q4
|Price As Tested:||$119,150|
|Engine:||3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6|
|Cargo Capacity:||18.7 cubic feet|
|Fuel Economy:||15/24 mpg (city/highway)|