If a car’s ‘character’ can sometimes come bundled as a set of attributes difficult to articulate, then putting a price on that ‘character’ is damn near impossible.
But that shouldn’t stop us trying. Maserati’s newly updated four-door flagship, the Quattroporte Trofeo, is priced at $376,900 (plus ORC).
For that hefty wedge, you get a Ferrari-developed 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 making 433kW/730Nm driving the rear wheels, an interior that smells like the inside of a Louis Vuitton handbag, and of course that famed trident badge on the grille, steeped with 100 years of rich history and motorsport pedigree.
But the QP’s German rivals, which also all have twin-turbo V8s (and AWD to help harness it), aren’t exactly starved for brand equity nor motorsport success, and look like bargains by comparison.
Like Audi’s (slightly smaller) RS7, making more power and torque, and costing just $224,000. Or the BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupe, still usefully cheaper at $355,000.
Even the Mercedes-AMG GT63 S, which slams the QP for pure muscle and driver focus, still undercuts it by around $18K.
Okay, so let’s accept that ‘character’ of the Italian flavour in this segment is worth at least $20-$30K, while also acknowledging that for buyers shopping here, that’s an amount they’ve probably misplaced down the back of the lounge over that last few months.
What’s harder to ignore is how quaintly low-tech (maybe ‘traditional’ is a kinder term) that the QP is compared to its technology-infused, screen-queen Teutonic rivals.
Its instruments are conventional analogue dials, and the new 10.1-inch multimedia screen, while nicely hi-res and responsive, looks as though it could have been lifted from an up-spec Jeep. Wait, that’s because it is, along with most of the other switchgear pulled together from the FCA parts bin.
Best to not focus on that and instead admire the aromatic full-grain leather and glossy carbonfibre trim applied liberally around the cabin. And it must have lavish rear-seat accommodation for your VIP mates and family, right? Er, not so much.
Legroom is adequate for adults, not vast (despite the huge 3171mm wheelbase), there’s only basic HVAC control, no screens, and no real ambiance that you’re a backseat baller heading out on the town.
But the hero of the QP is its engine, which is a shorter-stroke variant of the 3.9-litre V8 used by Ferrari in the Portofino and Roma. Here it runs a cross-plane crank and wet-sump lubrication, hits a soft limiter at 7200rpm, and is linked to an eight-speed ZF auto.
Additional to its default mode, the powertrain can be wicked up via Sport and Corsa settings. The latter two bring a honed edge to the throttle response, and open an exhaust flap to allow a more baritone woofle from the pipes.
It’s a lovely powertrain, no question; as slick and glossy as the carbonfibre shroud that tops the red crackle-finished intake plenums under the bonnet.
But do you really want slick and glossy from an engine in a 5262mm-long Italian super sedan? I want that Corsa button to uncork eight pots of anger; to deliver the equivalent of an alarming accident in a small munitions factory.
Sadly, it never happens, so that lack of raucous character is disappointing. Out of tighter corners there’s a moment’s lag as the torque builds and wages its ever-present battle with the QP’s two-tonne mass, then she lifts her skirt and the big girl shows she knows how to boogie.
But it’s all very polished and undramatic, and frankly could be any twin-turbo V8 from those rivals mentioned earlier. Claimed 0-100km/h is 4.5 seconds, but the car’s 2000kg weight and boost characteristics mean that’s probably optimistic.
Likewise the official combined consumption figure of 12.5L/100km. We slurped through 17L/100km without trying too hard.
It’s enjoyable enough to hustle hard, up to a point, thanks to direct, slack-free steering needing only 2.6 turns lock to lock, and fine body control when the adaptive dampers are set to their firm mode.
But both Sport and Corsa modes add a gloopy weight to that otherwise agreeable steering, and there’s no setting to isolate the rack when you want max response from the powertrain. Nor can you have Corsa without the firmer damper setting, which isn’t ideal for Australia’s bumpy backroads.
At least plenty of grip from the 21-inch P Zero rubber, and the big Brembo steel brakes will sustain a reasonable pounding on road before the over-assisted middle pedal starts to soften.
As much as I wanted to be seduced by a big lusty Italian with a rich pedigree and clearly defined link to Ferrari, there are just too many hurdles of logic to overcome when assessing the QP in the harsh light of reality.
It’s a car in the twilight of its life – this sixth generation made its debut in 2013 – and while this Trofeo variant is the most desirable ever, there’s little doubt its EV successor, due in 2023, will be an altogether swifter, smarter, more desirable range-topper.
Like: Powertrain refinement; RWD chassis engagement; cabin trim; lack of complication
Dislike: Lack of basic equipment like HUD; lack of duality of character; feels dated inside, despite update
Maserati Quattroporte Trofeo specifications
Body: four-door, five seat sedan
Engine: 3799cc V8 (90°), dohc, 32v, twin-turbo
Power: 433kW @ 6750rpm
Torque: 730Nm @ 2250-5250rpm
0-100km/h: 4.5sec (claimed)
Fuel consumption: 12.5L/100km (WLTC)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Suspension: Double-wishbone, Skyhook shock absorbers, anti-roll bar (f); Multi-Link, Skyhook shock absorbers, anti-roll bar (r)
L/W/H: 5262mm / 1948mm / 1481mm
Steering: Electrically assisted rack and pinion
Tyres: Pirelli P Zero
Price (before on-roads and options): $376,900
How are you finding our new site design? Tell us in the comments below or send us your thoughts at email@example.com.
Get your monthly fix of news, reviews and stories on the greatest cars and minds in the automotive world.
2021 Hyundai Tucson Highlander FWD review
The 2.0-litre petrol powertrain is the most affordable way into the luxurious Highlander spec of Hyundai's all-new Tucson
2021 Porsche Cayman GT4 PDK review
Is this a rare case where the auto is better than the manual?
Nissan Leaf e+ review
Nissan’s Leaf is starting to feel its age, but the new e+ has turned back the clock – for a hefty price