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2005 Maserati Quattroporte - First Look

The Trident Returns To Its Luxury Sports Sedan Roots

Sherri Collins
Apr 20, 2004 SHARE
Epcp_0406_01_z+2005_maserati_quattroporte+top_view Photo 1/1   |   2005 Maserati Quattroporte - First Look

Following the success of its race-engined sports coupe, the 5000GT, Maserati decided a similarly powered sedan was in order. Thus, the Vettura Berlina 4 Porte was unveiled at the 1963 Turin Motor Show. Considered by many to be the first true sports sedan, the elegant Frua-designed Quattroporte was powered by a 260-bhp 4.2-liter V8 that propelled it to a then unprecedented 230 kmh (143 mph). Only 260 of the stylish and sporty Series 1 Quattroporte were built between 1964 and '65 (the Series 2 Quattroporte was next in line), but the benchmark had been set. High performance in a four-door package was not only possible, but expected.

The entirely new Quattroporte is all the Series I was and much more. The Pininfarina-designed body is, to this editor's eye, the most beautiful of all four-door luxury sedans currently on the market. Every curve is sensuous; every plane, elegant; every detail, exquisite. The Quattroporte practically begs you to run your hands over its flanks before you get in. The short front and rear overhang, the long, slightly curved hood, the side contours placed low on the body, the cab-rearward position and the smoothly rounded rear end work in total harmony and give the Series V a sleekly muscular appearance. It looks both powerful and seductive whether standing still or gliding smoothly down the autostrada.

In terms of styling and comfort, the interior is equal to the exterior. The three-spoke multifunction steering wheel is wrapped in black leather with a silver Trident placed dead center. The DuoSelect (called Cambiocorsa in the Coupe and Spyder) shift paddles-mounted on the steering column-are trimmed in aluminum and have a grippy leather surface on the backside. The white-on-blue instrument panel gauges have sporty aluminum surrounds and are easy to read. Of course, it wouldn't be a Maserati without the oval-shaped analog clock, which in the Quattroporte is nestled between the upper center console air vents. The Poltrona Frau leather on the fully adjustable front and rear seats, and on the doors, dash and center console, is of the highest quality. Ditto for the wood inlays on the doors, dash and console. Discerning customers can choose from mahogany, rosewood and walnut. If you prefer a more modern look, a titanium-style finish is also offered.

For those averse to having lots of functions controlled by one knob (think iDrive), the Quattroporte's Multi-Media System (MMS), developed by Bosch-Blaupunkt, might be more appealing-or not. Instead of one control, there are several: two knobs, each surrounded by four directional buttons, and set between them are six function selectors. Mercifully, there is an escape button next to the right-side knob. The dual-control climate system's various functions are fully exposed. It's a bit busy looking, yet its ease of use makes up for a slight loss of elegance.

During the press launch in Italy, I used the nav unit to guide us back to the proscribed route after an off-the-map trip to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It took a few trial-and-error efforts to input the proper coordinates, but once I'd figured the system out, it worked fine. (And, no I couldn't read the manual; it was in Italian, and my command of the language is virtually nonexistent.) The one other downside to the nav is that it's CD based, not DVD, limiting the amount of detail per CD, which will be a problem for those who drive in large and heavily populated areas in the U.S.

The digital sound system, also accessed via the MMS, is a first for Maserati. It's a Hi-End Bose that was specifically adapted to the car's acoustics. It sounds marvelous. The system has a plethora of functions, from AutoPilot, which reads and measures ambient noise and adjusts the sound quality accordingly, to active electronic equalizers. There is also an in-car five-disc CD changer that is, unfortunately, located in a very odd place: under the steering column. (Why five discs? Who knows. Can anyone explain six?)You have to exit the car to access the changer-unless you're a yoga adept, and even then you'll need to have the driver's side door open to give you enough room to bend sideways. While it does look rather cool tucked under the steering column, it is impossible to change CDs when driving.

Then again, driving the Quattroporte is an activity that should take up all of your attention, as it is a most wonderful thing to do. The front/mid-engined sedan is powered by Maserati's new-generation 4.2L V8, outputting 394 bhp at 7000 rpm and 333 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm-75% of which is available at 2500. By placing the V8 behind the front axle and situating the differential and transmission at the rear, the Quattroporte's weight is distributed 47/53, front to rear.

The lightweight engine (403.3 lb) was specifically reworked for the Quattroporte: improved intake camshaft shape; new intake system manifold that's symmetric, longer and has smaller channels; tuned exhaust collector; rear silencer with butterfly system. The V8's resulting deliciously smooth power and torque is available early and in huge quantities. The 4,254-lb sedan is propelled from 0 to 62 mph in a breathtaking 5.2 sec., making it the quickest among its competitors.

Of course, my driving partner and I had to test said acceleration for ourselves-repeatedly. On and off the autostradi, up and down colline, around and around rotatorie (we missed our route's exits a few times), the Quattroporte's V8 offered up impressive amounts of power in five out of six gears.

Sound quality was one of the goals of the Quattroporte's engineers. They wanted the drivers to "hear a nice noise" from inside the cabin. They succeeded. It sounded awesome, emitting a deep grumbly tone I could listen to forever.

One noise you can no longer hear from inside, nor outside for that matter, is the shifting-from-first-to-reverse clunk that's quite audible on the Cambiocorsa-equipped Coupe and Spyder. The new Maserati DuoSelect (MSD) transmission is pleasingly quiet. It is also shifts much smoother and faster than the previous version. The center console-mounted gearlever has a different design as well. The knob is larger, offering more to grip, and it bears a striking resemblance to a miniature Super Bowl trophy-I'm guessing this was unintentional. You lift up and push forward for reverse and pull back for first. As with all of Maserati/Ferrari paddle-shifters, neutral is achieved by pulling both shift paddles forward while your foot is on the brake.

On startup, the MSD chooses the automatic driving mode; manual can be selected by way of a button on the center console. You can also momentarily override the automatic mode by using the shift paddles. The MSD also provides three driving modes: normal for maximum stability; sport for maximum traction and, for the Michael Schumacher wannabes, sport with the Maserati Stability Program (MSP) turned off. Maserati refers to this as the "freedom" mode. There is also a low-grip mode for slippery surfaces.

While the MSD's automatic mode is much improved, it is still considerably slower and somewhat jerky when compared to "true" automatic transmissions. Automatic sport is a bit faster, but also more abrupt; normal mode is just too slow. But, hey, you've got paddle shifters here that are immensely cool and fun to use. As with the normal auto mode, normal in manual gives you slower and smoother shifts, while the sport manual mode gives you full-throttle shifts. The timing difference tells the story: 250 msec for sport and 800 msec for normal. You can even do a "sprint launch," which involves shifting out of neutral at a rather high rpm. Honestly, we only did this a couple of times. As with other "manumatics," the MSD won't let you hurt it by shifting down at too high an rpm. This is good news for those still getting used to the upshift on the right and downshift on the left paddles.

Those same sport and normal modes also affect the Quattroporte's "Skyhook" adaptive damping system. Normal offers up a softer ride, while sport firms things up considerably. Working in tandem with the suspension architecture, front and rear double wishbones with arms and hubs in forged aluminum, Skyhook uses sensors to monitor wheel and body movement and adjusts accordingly. The previously mentioned MSP interfaces with ABS, EBD and ASR functions to maximize chassis control.

And a very stiff chassis it is-it is totally new and features the latest technology in aluminum and tailored blanks. The Quattroporte's chassis dynamic flexional rigidity in first mode is 47 Hz and its dynamic torsional rigidity is 49 Hz. Translation: This is an incredibly tight-feeling car that handles like a much smaller and lighter one. My driving partner was intent on breaking the chassis free during a set of high-speed cornering maneuvers, and he couldn't do it-not until we came upon wet pavement. And even then, the MSP kicked in to help right the suddenly occurring wrong.

The ultra-high-performance Pirelli P Zero Rosso tires, sized 245/45ZR18 in front and 285/40 ZR18 in the rear, certainly contributed to the Quattroporte's surefootedness. These massively patched stickies kept the high-powered sedan firmly grounded through all kinds of shenanigans. As did the healthy sized Brembo brakes. The 330mm front and 316mm rear vented discs have four-pot and two-pot calipers, respectively. Stopping speed is 10.2m/sec. (33.46 ft) and 62 to 0 mph is reached in 36.9m (121.06 ft). To use a line often said by senior editor Les Bidrawn, "That's frightening stopping power."

As this is a modern car that meets or exceeds Euro-NCAP and DOT standards, all the expected safety features are present and accounted for on the Quattroporte: two-stage front airbags, side airbags and window rail air curtain, seatbelt pretensioners, Isofix childseat attachments, crash crumple zones-it's in there.

Nifty features not yet mentioned include twin xenon headlights with light sensors, rain sensor-activated windshield wipers, cruise control (I know, that's a given) and a very spacious trunk that can hold up to four golf bags. Speaking of spacious, the Quattroporte's rear seats can easily accommodate two full-sized adults-legs, torsos, shoulders, heads and all. We had the tallest and the largest (not necessarily the same person) sit in the back, and there was ample room for a comfortable long drive.

There are few options to be had on the Quattroporte, as the sedan comes fully loaded. The Comfort Package includes heated, ventilated and massaging front and rear seats. The front seats also feature an adaptive seat padding system that adjusts to the sitter's movements. The Executive Package has the Comfort's rear seats, a rear console for climate control, retractable wooden tables in the front seatbacks and lateral sun blinds. The Sport Package offers 19-in. wheels, drilled brake discs, titanium-colored brake calipers and a tire-pressure control system. You can also order up an electric sunroof, the Rear Seat Entertainment system (rear central screen, DVD player and TV tuner) and a set of matched Quattroporte luggage.

There was a lot of conjecture going on as to whether U.S. buyers, and in particular women, would put up with the less-than-butter-smooth MSD transmission, especially when compared to the comparably priced offerings from BMW, Audi, Mercedes and Jaguar. (Expect a price between $95,000 to $100,000.) Maserati firmly believes they will, and I agree. It's a slightly different breed of luxury sedan, perhaps even a new species. It has something to do with that silver Trident, with a red cylinder head covering the engine, and with being ahead of the crowd. Drive a Quattroporte and you get incredible good looks, amazing power, superb handling and a worthy transmission if you're willing and able to work it. And isn't that what any luxury performance sedan-and especially an Italian one with deep roots-should offer?

How the European Luxury Sedans Compare
  Quattroporte {{{Jaguar XJ8}}} BMW 745iL {{{M}}}-B S500 Audi A8L
Engine 4.2L V8 4.2L V8 4.4L V8 5.0L V8 4.2L V8
Power (U.S.) 394 bhp 294 bhp 325 bhp 302 bhp 330 bhp
Torque 333 lb-ft 303 lb-ft 330 lb-ft 339 lb-ft 317 lb-ft
0 to 60 mph 5.2 sec. 6.3 sec. 5.9 sec 6.1 sec. 6.3 sec.
Cd 0.35 0.32 0.29 0.27 0.27
Dimensions
Length 198.9 in. {{{200}}}.4 in. 203.5 in. 203.1 in. 204.0 in.
Width 74.6 in. 73.2 in. 74.9 in. 73.0 in. 74.6 in.
Height 56.6 in. {{{57}}}.0 in. 58.7 in. 57.2 in. 57.3 in.
Wheelbase 120.6 in. 119.4 in. 123.3 in. 121.5 in. 121.1 in.
Curb Weight 4,254 lb 3,803 lb 4,464 lb 4,170 lb 4,399 lb
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By Sherri Collins
39 Articles

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