Maserati’s flagship sedan, the Quattroporte, has received some cosmetic updates for 2017, as well as a range-topping GTS version, which will appease those looking for muscle to go with the grandiose styling.
Cosmetic updates can be described as minimal with a slightly tweaked front grille that now takes its cues from the forthcoming Alfieri sports car, while the rear valance has been given a gloss black finish. As I say, incremental and subtle cosmetic changes.
However, it is the new trims that bring about something more tangible in the form of two trim levels: GranLusso and GranSport.
The former offers a number of unique features such as chrome elements on the valances, a colour-coded boot spoiler, 20-inch Mecurio wheels and black painted brake callipers. The cabin, meanwhile, has full leather trimmings, or you can opt for the Ermenegildo Zegna silk inserts on the seats, doors and roof lining as seen in the Ghibli and Levante.
The GranSport trim panders more towards sportier buyers thanks to bigger air intakes, 21-inch Titano wheels, which are home to red painted brake callipers, a gloss black spoiler and a blue theme on the trident logo up front and Saetta (trident in a circle) logos on the C-pillars.
Cabin elements include redesigned and sporty front and rear seats, while a steering wheel in carbon fibre or full leather completes the overall design. The 8.6-inch infotainment system has also been improved and is in line with that in the Levante and includes both Apple Carplay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring.
We spent a brief time at the wheel of the Quattroporte GTS in GranSport trim and, right off the bat, the thing drips with enchanting character. I was a huge fan of the previous Quattroporte GTS and, while the new one has softened its look somewhat, it is still one of the best-looking limos in the segment.
While the previous model had to make do with a normally aspirated 4.7l V8, the new model has a downsized 3.8l V8 with twin-turbo blowers to make 390kW and 650Nm. These are figures, according to the manufacturer, that are enough to propel the luxo barge to 100km/h in 4.7 seconds. Top speed, meanwhile, is pegged at a brisk 310km/h. Power is harnessed through a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission to the LSD-equipped rear wheels.
It was the flagship drivetrain that we experienced at its launch in Gauteng and, I must admit, the new muscle means that the model now has the go to match its show. Granted, it doesn’t quite hold a candle to the BMW M760Li, the Mercedes-AMG S63 and the stonking Porsche Panamera Turbo. However, the Quatttroporte is all about charm and exclusivity, and this it has in spades. It lacks the guttural raw of its predecessor at slow speeds, but what it misses out in that regard it more than makes up for in performance. It might not be the benchmark, but it is no slouch when you put your foot down and the cabin is engulfed in a deep, throaty V8 engine note.
While the big, 21-inch wheels offer prodigious grip levels, I did find that the steering wheel does fidget in your hands on broken tarmac, disconcerting for a vehicle of this calibre. Build quality, too, is not particularly on the level of those aforementioned Germans, but there is nevertheless a sense of occasion piloting this Maserati, more so than you will experience in any other model in this segment.
So, then, the Quattroporte looks the part, sounds glorious and will be the one many will remember seeing at the cocktail party car park. I guess the mystique and charm that the brand has built over the years still rings true with the company’s current crop. The Germans are efficient, well-built and strong on performance, but the Quattroporte, well, that’s the one that your heart will yearn for.
Still on the Italian brand, fans of the Levante SUV will be glad to know that the company has finally decided to make available the petrol variant, which is expected to arrive in SA in September. Previously, only the diesel version has been sold here, but the addition of the sonorous V6 petrol will ensure that the signature exhaust note that the brand is well known for can be experienced in the Levante, too.