As an educator, I always loved to see a student whose grades were slipping, suddenly make a complete turnaround to get their act together. I celebrated their success a little more than those who were straight-A students from the start. Maybe because I watched them pull themselves up with hard work.
This past week, I attended the unveiling of another student whom I see is making a turnaround. The 2014 Maserati Quattroporte is aiming at BMW, Audi and Mercedes grand saloons with both barrels. I think what we have here is a student who has spent painstaking hours in study.
It was 1963 when Maserati introduced the luxury sports sedan to the world. Fill a huge luxurious saloon with a supercar engine and there you have it. 20 years before BMW did it – might I add. The effort would be revived in 1979, but reliability, availability and acceptability prevented it from being the S-Class challenger it could be – that is until 2004, when a sensuous sedan emerged from the drawing boards at Pinninfarina. It was a big, comfortable sedan that could be finally respected on the Autostrada and on Wall Street. More than an expensive toy, it could be a daily driver.
Now we have the newest iteration of the Quattroporte; a longer, wider sleeker version of an already beautiful car. During the event, I went down my mental checklist to see if this car would stack up against the proposed competition. A few prospective buyers and I tested the comfort by allowing a 6’4” tall driver to adjust the seat to its limit while a 6’3” tall Englishman sat in the rear. The seat came toward him and neither he nor I gave nary a flinch. Spaciousness? Check. One of the dealership’s regular customers showed me that the rear seats could be folded down, the storage compartments and how large the glove box really was. Usability? Check! The interior in our pictured model was done in carbon fiber and was well-finished, even if it was less sculptured than previous models. Many of us agreed that the last generation was a little chintzy and flashy. The 2014 model is contemporary and clean. We will wait for a full road test before we check the “Ergonomics” box.
When the wraps came off, the doors were opened almost immediately, but when they closed the muffled sound of those surrounding the car assured us that this would be a quiet high speed traveler. The contoured seats were comfortable and supportive – both front and rear – especially the lower back area. Quiet and Comfort? Check and Check! The Quattroporte’s new design is substantial without being imposing. Past Quatroportes were very masculine and, if there was such a thing, perfect company vehicles for mafia employees. This one is softer but loses none of its appeal. Ladies, you would look good in this car. Design? Check!
All of that aside, the important part of any Italian saloon is the block of metal under the hood. Peter Litzenberger, the Maserati representative who will be traveling with the pre-production car during its U.S. Tour, got in and gave up a blip of throttle. The sound was intriguing: loud enough to be a throaty V-6, but strong enough to be a V-8 (which it was). Considering we were inside, I could surmise that this car wouldn’t exceed the noise limit in your gated community, but those shift paddles sure would make some nice sounds on the interstate.
One limit that it will exceed is speed. A twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve 3.0-liter V-6 engine will pump out, 404 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. Check the box that should be labeled “Hellion”, and those two turbos and intercoolers rest atop a DOHC 32-valve 3.8-liter V-8 engine producing, 523 ponies and 524 lb-ft of thrust. One gearbox is available and necessary; an 8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode. Zero to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds for the V-8 and 4.5 seconds for the V-6. Those 8 gears get you to the Quarter Mile in 12.7 and 13.1 sec for the V8 and V6, respectively. With a top speed available of 190 mph, this is a serious contender. Fuel economy will be in line with an Audi S8 and if that concerns you, please be reminded that a Maserati Quattroporte is not bought by hyper-milers.
To show how serious they are, Maserati is pumping out these new $120,000 – $135,000 models from a brand-spankin’ new facility. They are ramping up for production numbers of 50,000 units a year beginning in late summer. That should eat into Jaguar XJ and 7-Series profits with a car that seems to have looked at the report card and made up its mind to do better. We will have to wait until production models become available, but we are pulling for the 2014 Maserati Quattroporte to move to the head of the class.
Please enjoy the pictures and video of the event, which features Mr. John Weinberger, president of Continental Autosports, his son, Joel, and Jeff Di Sandro, General Sales Manager, who did a wonderful job of introducing the vehicle. We apologize for the sound in the video. We hope you enjoy the unveiling, nonetheless.