2014 Maserati Quattroporte S and S Q4: Master of Evolution

Maserati hasn’t had a V6 engine in a long time and never in the company’s history offered all-wheel drive. Say hello to both in the new Quattroporte S and S Q4. The all-new, Twin Turbo 3.0-liter V6 engine is assembled by Ferrari and delivers another distinct price and performance point for the longer, faster and wider 4-door sedan. Dubbed Q4, the AWD system offers the responsiveness of a traditional Maserati rear-wheel drive vehicle combined with added safety and security assurance.

To explore the technologies, luxury accouterments and Italian design philosophy of the latest Quattroporte, we flew to Italy for a day of testing at Fiat’s Balocco Proving Grounds which feels more like Stanford’s campus than a vehicle test track. FYI, Fiat owns both Chrysler and Maserati so you’ll find shared technologies between their vehicles such as the 8.4” touchscreen multi-media center in the Quattroporte that we know as Uconnect in Chrysler vehicles. The Langhe track that we challenged the Italian maestro on is 12.89 miles long with 135 tight and wide turns and miles of K-rail. A few laps behind the wheel was convincing enough on the agility of this 4,500 pound long-body Maserati. I was hitting corners and accelerating like a GranTurismo MC Stradale. Then former World Rally Champion Alex Fiorio took the wheel and handled the sled like Jack Frost on ice and even managed to get all four wheels off the ground, landing in symphony with the direction of the track. Remarkable to say the least, and nope, no scraping of the undercarriage whatsoever.

Maserati is very proud of this vehicle and has 6,100 orders collected. Last year they sold 6,200 cars total and wishes to aggressively up the ante to 50,000 vehicles annually in the next few years. Very ambitious, the Quattroporte and upcoming Ghibli will certainly help the company meet their targets. Offered in both the GTS (V8 engine) and the S (V6 engine) the Quattroporte features AWD for the first time, but only on the V6. And please do not expect a hybrid rendition of this model because the technology is not a part of the company’s vision. Maserati prefers the numbers achieved in diesel engines. With deliveries currently taking place in the US, base MSRP for the 523-horsepower V8 RWD Quattroporte GTS is $140,500 and $102,500 for the 404-horsepower GDI V6 AWD Quattroporte S Q4, the model we drove in Balocco. With a new powertrain, transmission and gearbox, Maserati is confident they have a more competitive full-size, luxury touring sedan. Together with the ZF 8-speed automatic and innovative engine design the sport sedan sees a 28% improvement in fuel efficiency.

When deep beauty is encountered what behavior would you exert to obtain it? Fortunately, Maserati has never had qualms attracting car lovers to their brand. Yet, in competitive global markets expectations from today’s tech-savvy and opulence-seeking connoisseurs have to be met. Rightfully so, they engineered the upper body of the Quattroporte with 60% aluminum, inclusive of the doors, hood, trunk and fenders. The mission was focused on obtaining the proper aerodynamics with the altered physique. It’s now 10” longer with 4” of additional rear legroom and garners 30% increased luggage volume. However, there is no automatic trunk close mechanism. Quattroporte V6 and V8 models are distinguished by their exhaust outlets, with four circular pipes indicating the V6 and two wider tips referencing the V8. In Sport mode a by-pass valve opens and lets out ferocious audio, but even without engaging Sport the same will happen when accelerating over 3,000 RPM. A 6-piston front and 4-piston rear Brembo brake system (standard in Black) is utilized on all three wheel packages including the standards 19s and optional 20s and 21s. The 21” wheels are forged alloy and weigh the same as the 20s.

Riding in the back is just as spacious as an Audi A8L or Jaguar XJL while dual seats can be ordered to replace the bench seat. The dashboard uses a magnesium frame and houses the aforementioned infotainment system which comes with a standard rearview camera, standard harman/kardon 10-speaker, 600-watt audio system and guidance technology by Garmin, which didn’t always work in my favor while scouting Italian country roads. Opt for the up-level 15-speaker, 1280-watt Bowers and Wilkins Surround Sound and crisp, concert-like rhythms are delivered spectacularly throughout the cabin. The shift paddles, gear lever frame and LCD trim are all aluminum. Two leather types are available with the optional, higher grain leather covering more area. A rear window shade and side electric blinds, standard sunroof, and the choice of six surfaces altogether including a carbon fiber package rounds out interior comforts.

I always find it clever when auto manufacturers are able to manifest lavish, full-size sedans in every sense, yet instill the performance and character of sport cars. Q4 for example offers the Quattroporte S greater high-speed confidence and safety for inclement weather. First, the car has a perfect 50/50 weight distribution with both engines; uses a double wishbone front suspension and multilink rear; and Skyhook has been significantly improved. Skyhook is Maserati’s sophisticated damping system, which manages all vehicle dynamic parameters. To the left of the gear selector are five driver buttons for your specific style of driving. For example, in Sport mode the transmission will not upshift until the vehicle hits the rev limit.

The Magnum AWD leaves the front wheels passive until needed to help with traction and then are instantly and intelligently engaged. Q4 is paired with stability control and ABS intervention, but there is no left to right torque vectoring and the system is not predictive. I specifically enjoyed the instrument cluster which displays the monitoring of the actual torque distribution in real time. Drivers cannot turn off the mechanical system but can turn off the electrics as Alex did to showcase how effective Q4 is on its own. Without the electronics, Q4 shifts torque to the front if oversteer takes place and consequently to the rear when understeer is detected.

The new Quattroporte is ready for the big leagues and certainly will not disappoint. Once you’ve manhandled it like a WRC champ in the afternoon and later impress the ladies delightfully in the evening you too will become an Italian master of evolution.

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