Mercedes-Benz S-Class 2015 Review
Paul Gover road tests and reviews the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe at its international launch.
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Maserati's V6 grand tourer lacks a V8 bark but still has plenty of bite
The first time I fired up a Maserati Quattroporte was in 2008 in Salzburg, the Austrian town where the Sound of Music was filmed. The hills were alive with the sound of V8s, and it was music to my ears. Back then, eight cylinders were the bare minimum for any Italian sports car.
Seven years later, picking up a Quattroporte S from the slightly less picturesque surrounds of Zetland, NSW, times have changed in more ways than one.
Environmental concerns dictate that the world's great supercar makers are dabbling in hybrid and plug-in electric propulsion, and the short story is the Quattroporte S now has a twin-turbo V6 in the space where a 4.7-litre V8 once resided.
The new model is larger than its predecessor, with more room in the cabin, but it's also more than $80,000 cheaper and weighs 120kg less (thanks to the greater use of aluminium).
Cabin updates include an multimedia touchscreen and more modern-looking trim on the dash and doors.
It retains its Italian character
Slipping in to the cabin for the first time in seven years, I am struck by the familiarity of the surrounds.
Despite all the changes underneath, it retains its Italian character, with the analog clock still taking pride of place on the dashboard and the scent of stitched leather upholstery wafting through the cabin.
There are some nice modern touches, too. The centre touchscreen menu is easy to navigate, there's a wi-fi hotspot and the 15-speaker Bowers and Wilkins stereo is a ripper.
The Quattroporte is a big beast with a wide turning circle, so negotiating inner-city car parks is a little stressful, given the pricetag.
The lack of manoeuvrability is made worse by a gear selector that is way too fancy and requires surgical precision to find reverse or drive in a hurry. Three-point turns can be a fiddly exercise.
Parking sensors and a reversing camera go some way to putting you at ease when parking, but the camera readout loses clarity after dark.
Around town, the suspension is compliant and a little floaty, while the transmission can be set to ICE mode (Increased Control and Efficiency) for smoother shifts, less twitchy throttle response and a quieter exhaust note. It works well.
It eats up the kilometres with a dash of flair and a good deal of haste
The Maserati feels most at home on the open road. A grand tourer in more ways than one, it eats up the kilometres with a dash of flair and a good deal of haste.
The steering, which feels a little light at lower speeds, loads up nicely through faster corners and, once you've dialled up the sportier suspension setting, the Quattroporte feels impressively agile for such a big vehicle.
The suspension and brakes are noticeably improved, with good stopping power and reasonable comfort even in the sportier settings. The seats have plenty of adjustment but finding a comfortable position for a short freeway drive proves a challenge.
There's a blat when you change gears and some crackling and spitting as you decelerate for corners
There is a hint of lag from a standing start but once the Quattroporte is up and going, it is both rapid and raucous, with the twin-turbo howling away as it heads for the higher reaches of the rev range.
Switch to sports mode and there's a blat when you change gears and some crackling and spitting as you decelerate for corners.
The intuitive, quick-shifting eight-speeder also blips the throttle as it changes down gears — it's not as sweet a sound as the previous V8 but it has its own charm.
Despite the V6's smaller displacement, it has more torque than its predecessor.
Outputs from the V8 were 317kW and 490Nm — the new 3.0-litre V6 puts out 301kW and, from a low 1750rpm, peak torque of 550Nm.
That gives the new six a performance edge over the old eight; it's three-tenths quicker in the 0-100km/h sprint, stopping the clock at 5.1 secs.
It is an impressive grand tourer
The V6 has an official fuel use label of 10.4L/100km, as against the V8's 15.7L.
Fuel consumption and performance alike are helped by the new eight-speed auto, which replaces a six-speeder.
There's no doubt the new Quattroporte is a more technologically advanced car but has all this progress made it more enjoyable to drive? Or has it lost some of its mojo?
It may not have the bark of a V8 but it still has plenty of bite and overall it is an impressive grand tourer.
It's more sensibly priced, more efficient and easier to live with around town than its predecessor, while losing none of its character (save the V8 burble) on the open road.
|(base)||3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$136,510 – 156,860||2015 Maserati Quattroporte 2015 (base) Pricing and Specs|
|GTS||3.8L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$172,480 – 198,220||2015 Maserati Quattroporte 2015 GTS Pricing and Specs|
|S||3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$129,360 – 148,720||2015 Maserati Quattroporte 2015 S Pricing and Specs|
|Turbo Diesel||3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$107,140 – 123,200||2015 Maserati Quattroporte 2015 Turbo Diesel Pricing and Specs|