If there’s good and bad in everyone, as John Lennon insisted, it’s easy to spot the delineation in the Maserati Quattroporte.
This review was originally published in MOTOR’s June 2007 issue
The good with the Quattroporte Automatic is that the car is now complete. The bad is that it took Maserati so very long to fit it with the gearbox it should have had back in 2003.
Of course, Maserati argued that Quattroporte buyers preferred the intimate control and connection offered by the DuoSelect (MDS) paddle shift gearbox (a transmission not dissimilar to BMW’s SMGII or Ferrari’s F1 shift). In truth, you’d hope few Quattroporte buyers were actually so short-sighted as to prefer the unit forced upon Maserati through its then-Ferrari stewardship. But what else could they say?
The ZF six-speeder it now carries is one of a raft of upgrades, but it’s the most critical one. Some journos have claimed it’s the same unit as you’ll find in a tired Falcon taxi, but that’s like saying beer’s
the same as water ’cos they both come on tap.
For starters, there’s no way the Falcon version is aggressive enough, nor could it cope with the Quattroporte’s appetite for revs. And nor, when you’ve had your fun and are settling back into life on the waft, is the more basic version of the gearbox smooth enough on the upshifts.
Fire it up, and where the MDS fiddle-farts around with the computer, tweaking the twin-plate clutches just as you’re manoeuvring in and out of carparks, the auto just takes your thoughts on board and does as it’s bloody well told. No more jerking, no more shuddering, no more metallic bangs as cogs clang home and no more noise as the clutch surfaces wear down.
In short, the key to the auto isn’t that it stands out, but rather that you don’t notice it much at all. It becomes an invisible link between your foot and the treads, where the MDS often felt like a hurdle to jump over.
While it’s demonstrably better trickling through traffic, it’s only ever a plucked paddle away from a shorter gear and an aggressive charge. Which is how the Quattroporte always should have been. And yet… sixth gear is taller than it was, so the fuel economy is better again (it’s had a 26 percent improvement in two years) and its shift times run at close to the MDS’s claims.
It’s also picked up more torque in the shift from a dry- to a wet-sump lubrication arrangement, and that torque arrives earlier, too.
And that’s the real beauty. Maserati claims a 10 percent ride improvement thanks to new dampers and new bushes, but point it at a series of corners and the Skyhook active suspension immediately reacts to stiffen the chassis. It handles.
It’s the most chuckable thing you could imagine at near two tonnes, and it stops, too. The brakes have been upgraded, with four-piston calipers now squishing the back rotors, and Maserati claims it will decelerate at up to 1.24g. In layman’s terms, that’s right up there in Porsche 911 country.
While the MDS is still optional, the auto also gets an upgraded interior, which includes a new console, a normal Prindle (with a classily trimmed wood-and-leather stick) and a pair of conventional cupholders. It even brings with it an electric handbrake, while an overhaul of its HVAC hard- and software has given it a 50 percent boost in the cabin’s airflow, too.
There was only ever one thing that needed urgently fixing in the Quattroporte, and Maserati has fixed it, and much more besides.
2007 Maserati Quattroporte
Engine: 4244cc V8, DOHC
Power: 294kW @ 7000rpm
Torque: 451Nm @ 4500rpm
0-100km/h: 5.2sec (claimed)
Top Speed: 275km/h
Likes: The car the Quattroporte should always have been
Dislikes: Styling still not to all tastes, Mercedes E63 still quicker and cheaper
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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