Since Maserati North America will be handling distribution when Alfa Romeo comes back to the US market next year with the 8C Competizione, they naturally brought along a couple of their own vehicles to the introduction of Alfa's new supercar last week. Parked alongside the 8C was one of the gorgeous new Gran Turismo coupes and the new automatic transmission Quattroporte sedan. Following the presentation and food, Maserati PR Manager Jeff Ehoodin asked if I'd like a drive in the Quattroporte. The hot sun not having completely baked my brain yet, I of course responded in the affirmative.
After Jeff fetched the keys, we headed out for a drive around the roads of the Oakland University campus which featured some nice twists, turns and elevation changes. Whatever flaws Italian cars may have had over the years, and there have surely been plenty, one thing they've always had in abundance is style, and this latest four-door Maserati is no exception. As part of the Fiat family, the Quattroporte is as close as we are ever likely to come to an official four-door Ferrari.
Continue reading our driving impressions of the Quattroporte after the jump.
The interior of the Maserati is exquisite and definitely no place for members of PETA. If you are averse to the use of animal hides for the cushioning of human back-sides, you do not belong anywhere near a Maserati, Ferrari or Alfa Romeo. For the rest of us carnivores, it would be hard to find a more sensuous place to spend a daily commute. Some of the finest leather anywhere can be found lining the seats and other visible panels of this beauty. Driving a car like this is a very tactile experience as a result. Everything feels and smells so good that you just want to rub your hands over it.
In a Lexus LS, closing the door and starting the car leaves you completely isolated from the outside world. Turn the key in a Maserati and the engine jumps to life giving the driver a wake-up call. The feeling of the Quattroporte is somewhere between the visceral nature of a Ferrari and the more serene environment of a Lexus.
When the Quattroporte first came to market a couple of years ago, as much as the voluptuous body was adored, the semi-automatic transmission was despised. In a $100,000+ luxury sport sedan, a hard shifting gearbox that may be completely at home in Ferrari F430 is totally out of place. While in auto mode, the transmission would hunt for gears during leisurely driving and feel harsh when pushed. For 2007, the 400-hp 4.2L V8 is now mated to a proper six-speed automatic. As someone who always buys a manual transmission when given the option, I feel that some cars should just naturally have an auto-box, and this is one of them.
The auto shifts smoothly and feels completely at home in this car. For those so inclined, paddle shifters still reside on the backside of the steering wheel, but they seem rather pointless here. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this car is its suspension. Even riding on 245/45ZR18 high performance tires, the continuously variable dampers worked beautifully with the rest of the suspension soaking up the rough pavement of the roads around the Oakland University campus while keeping the body level with the ground.
This car isn't cheap and few of us will ever get to drive one. It's pleasing to all of one's senses simultaneously, and hopefully Maserati will provide us the opportunity to spend more than ten minutes luxuriating in this Italian beauty next time around. (Wink, wink.)