In the world of motoring, there is a bit of a holy grail. It is the car than can do anything. A Lotus is a track monster but cup holders cost extra, a Maybach is no fun to drive, but good for the man in back, a Jetta is practical, but intensely boring. The ideal car would have to have the good parts of all three of these types of vehicles, but without any of the down sides. This is the holy grail of motoring: the luxury race-car that can be taken to the grocery store. It needs to seat five comfortably, it needs to handle like it seats two uncomfortably, it needs to have enough trunk space for some luggage, or a full load of groceries, it needs to feel good on the inside, it needs to look good on the outside, and it needs to be fast. The Maserati Quattroporte GT S may very well be this car. I’ll tell you why after the jump.
Chopin, Monet, Beethoven, Anthony Tudor, William Shakespeare, Yo-Yo Ma, Paul Taylor, Frank Lloyd Wright, Pininfarina, Marius Petipa. Yup, it belongs there. Pininfarina are masters of their art, which is auto design. The Maserati Quattroporte was already one of the sexiest sedans ever made, but the small updates to the GT S make it just that much better. Two little changes completely changed the mood of the car. It looks more menacing and sinister than the other Quattroporte variants, which reflects the character of this car. Most of the chrome has been blacked out, and the grill is concave like the GranTurismo, rather than convex like the other trident sedans. While the standard Quattroporte is a fast limo, the GT S is clearly intended to be a four door sports car. It’s a Ferrari in a dark Brioni suit; classy, elegant, powerful.
The interior has also been tweaked a little when compared to the regular Quattroporte. Of course, the signature Maserati clock is still right where it always is, looking as elegant as Audrey Hepburn. However, while wood is still available on special order, if you go test drive a GT S at your local Maserati dealer it will have TitanTex trim, which is to say an aluminum coated titanium fiber that is woven and then made smooth and shiny. It’s a little over the top, but it does certainly make the GT S look more high-tech than its siblings. There’s also now alcantara (man made suede) on the steering wheel, gear-shift knob, side panels, and the central section of the seats. It both looks and feels fantastic. However, if one wants a more classic look, or an absolutely ridiculous one, Maserati will have a custom finished and colored car delivered in 90 days. That’s right, if one placed an order today, people in Italy would make a car, finish it in bizarre custom colors, transport it across the globe, and deliver it in 90 days. That’s incredible efficiency and organization, especially for Italians.
It’s all mind-blowingly comfortable as well. The front seats cradled me nicely, and surprisingly, the back seats did too. All six feet and two inches of me would be fine back there for a couple hours. There was enough space for my legs, it wasn’t a Rolls Royce but it wasn’t any worse than any other sedan on the market. It was a little unnerving to see the front seat slowly moving towards me to the sounds of a muffled servo whine. I imagine that is what a leather and alcantara lined trash compactor would look like from the inside. Thankfully, it stopped before even making me uncomfortable. All was well, very well.
Tech wise, the car is neigh on perfect as well. It’s loaded with tech, but not in a flashy way. The screen is there, right where I expected it to be. It didn’t whirr, pop out of the dash board, do a triple back-flip, and say “taa daaaa” when I turned the car on. It just turned on. The navigation system boots up as a default, but there is the usual slew of features available, including song storage on the 30 gigabyte hard disk, a trip computer, and an equalizer feature. In order to speed up the system’s response time, Maserati didn’t just optimize the code, but they made the controls kept an eye out for when my fingers are closing in. Around the two knobs which control the nav/computer system are proximity sensors. When I put my fingers near a knob, the menu currently associated with said knob expanded, so I didn’t have to wait those milliseconds once I had made it to the controls. While it is possible to sneak up on a button by stealthily moving a finger in sideways, there’s really no point.
Seeing all of this tech, I knew it had to be connected to some great speakers, so I put in my official audio testing CD, which is labelled “EPIC.” It’s a compilation of all of the most epic excerpts from action movie sounds tracks I could find. Mr. Zimmer is featured prominently. The sound is quite good. It’s not incredible, but it is very good. The bass notes in particular are surprisingly clear, even with the volume turned up. Even though the sound system is very good, it should be turned off. It should definitely be turned off.
That’s because the 4.7l 440 horsepower Maserati V8 sounds great. But the sport button must be pushed, which makes it sound better than any hyperbole I can think of. I’m trying to think of every possible thing that sounds cool right now to use in a metaphor, but nothing quite does it. When I thought about the gas pedal the monster under the hood roared impatiently. I have never heard anything like that come out of what is essentially a four door family sedan. It’s like a Buick went absolutely berzerk (e.g. Italian) and suddenly discovered that it was actually from the planet Kypton and could harness the power of the sun or some such. VROOM!
That engine isn’t all bark either. It is very difficult to drive this car slowly. The GT S can lurch to 100 kph in 5.1 seconds and tops out at 285 kph, which is nothing short of astounding in a vehicle that is this big and has four doors. It’s the kind of car where everybody gets good use out of their head-rests, or rather they would be well advised to. It caught me off guard the first time it was decided that Maserati goes before Chrysler on an on-ramp. After the initial discovery of that simple law of inertia, the ride is completely smooth though. The GT S really wants to go fast, and it will unless it is under close supervision.
All of this power is hooked up to Maserati’s semi-automatic gearbox, that is run on the new MS-AutoShift software. The new software can run the transmission in both automatic and semi-automatic modes, as well as providing more aggressive shift patterns in automatic when sport mode is engaged. It does exactly what is is supposed to, and it does it well. More than that, it does it brilliantly, spectacularly. Basically, what I am trying to say is that the shift speed is 100 milliseconds. Maserati also didn’t skimp on the paddles. Most marques are guily of small steering wheel mounted paddles. This seems like it isn’t a big deal until one decides to down-shift into a hard left turn and can’t find the down-shift paddle, because it is hidden away cleverly in the driver’s crotch. I don’t want to have to fondle myself if I want to down-shift while turning, so I was happy to see perfect paddles behind the Maserati’s wheel. They were huge, as they should be, and attached to the steering column. Take note Mercedes, this is how you are supposed to do it.
Straight line is all fine and dandy, but if a car can’t turn at speed, I want nothing to do with it, and will ridicule it, as well as its offspring, until dramatically proven otherwise. (here’s lookin’ at you, Corvette) The Quattroporte GT S is, of course, on a more spory suspension set up than its cousins, and it really works. The front of the suspension is 30% stiffer than the standard Quattroporte, while the rear is 10% stiffer. In addition, the car has been lowered 10mm in the front and 25mm in the back. The result is sublime. It feels like it’s about the size of a Volkswagen Golf, but handles like a car of this price range and that size should. Maserati=1 Laws of Physics=0.
Literally the only thing wrong with this car is the button on the glove box. It looks like it was stolen from a Fiat. As if the designers and engineers noticed at the last minute that it had been accidentally omitted, and the Fiat plant down the road had a surplus of small plastic buttons. Anyway, this is the holy grail. It’s practical in the way that only a four door car with five seats and a fairly large trunk can be, but it’s fun in an extremely fast, Italian way at the same time. It’s loaded with technology and luxuries, but doesn’t flaunt them. It is both eye-poppingly gorgeous and impeccably classy. The Maserati Quattroporte GT S gracefully achieves all it sets out to do.
Summary: A masterpiece of design and engineering that provides speed, handling, luxury, and practicality in abundance.
Exterior Design: 9/10 About as sexy as a sedan could be.
Interior Design: 10/10 Luxurious, yet easy to manage. I prefer the wood, but the new option is nice.
Engine: 9/10 Tons of horses that make a simply magnificent sound.
Transmission: 10/10 Blazing fast, smooth, and mated to perfect paddles.
Audio/Visual: 8/10 Very nicely done, but not incredible.
Value: 9/10 Buying a Ferrari 599 and a Mercedes S-Class would cost a lot more.
Overall (Not an average): 10/10 I honestly couldn’t ask for more out of this car.
Thanks to Brad Sandoe and Dreyer-Reinbold Maserati of Indianapolis