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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Convincing buyers that passion and pragmatism can coincide is the key for Maserati to increase sales eight-fold to 50,000 vehicles by 2020. The new Quattroporte V6 and V8 are the first steps in that process.
The Quattroporte will be the headline act in a play that Maserati expects to earn mainstream appeal on the basis of the smaller - and cheaper - Ghibli sports car and the Levante SUV.
The logic follows the Porsche approach of maintaining top-end cache while developing volume models that spin the sports car heritage in a new direction. First impressions of the Quattroporte show the Italian carmaker is on the right road.
The Quattroporte V8 arrives in Australia in September with the V6 following two months later. Prices haven't been finalised for either model but Maserati Australia head Glen Sealey says they will reflect the lift in standard features.
Carsguide expects the V8 to cost somewhere around $320,000; the six should be around $40,000 cheaper. Sealey won't be drawn on pricing but says the V8 will come loaded with all the features buyers of a premium grand tourer expect. He is still deciding whether to include the premium leather and alcantara roof lining on the starter car. Rivals range from the Mercedes-Benz S Class and BMW 7 Series to Jaguars and Aston Martins.
The V6 uses a direct injection twin-turbo engine that is good for 301kW and 550Nm. To put that in perspective, BMW's brilliant turbo three-litre engine generates 225kW and 400Nm. The Maserati engine is mated to an eight-speed auto to achieve a 0-100km/h time of just 5.1 seconds.
The Quattroporte six is so good the V8 will only tempt buyers who demand the ultimate in power or prestige. A sport button sharpens throttle response and extends transmission shift points and the suspension can be tightened using a computer-controlled valves in the dampers that uses anti-dive, anti-squat, and anti-roll algorithms.
It's fashionable for cars to grow in size and at 5.26 metres, the Quattroporte is an expansive car. The exterior styling disguises a lot of that size - the proportions are right - and it is only in carparks and on hairpin turns that drivers appreciate just how big this car is.
That size translates into saloon-style space front and rear; needed to keep the Chinese market happy and make room for the Ghibli sedan to slot underneath in as an E-Class and 5 Series rival. Build quality is expectedly high with tight panel gap tolerances and a luxury-finished interior that doesn't shudder even when navigating rough roads at speed.
The Maserati hasn't been crash-tested an isn't likely to be, given the expected price of the car. Monstrous Brembo brakes bleed speed faster than a haemophiliac and the inherent steel structure is reassuringly solid. If things do go wrong, six airbags protect all occupants.
Engaging driving generally doesn't come in a car this commodious but that's part of Maserati's point of difference. It aims to be a more involving drive than its Euro rivals and to that effect the software nannies can be switched off to purify the drive experience.
Either way, the V6 Quattroporte is a seriously quick car and a quantum leap over the outgoing model in the way it drives and cossets its occupants. It officially hits 100km/h in 5.1 seconds, just 0.4 off the V8's sprint time.
The Quattroporte's natural environment is the autostradas and autobahns where it cruises at 130km/h with virtually no wind or road noise. So good is the insulation that owners will need to wind the windows down to appreciate the snarl and pop from the bi-modal exhaust on downshifts.
B-grade roads are a revelation as the car hunkers down and handles tight corners and patched pavement without complaint. The 8.4-inch touchscreen controls most of the car's functions and is easy to operate. The reversing camera is a must-have - touch parking a car this big isn't a good look. The only real quibble is the paddle-shifters are fixed to the steering column and don't move with the wheel. That makes mid-corner shifts a problem when the transmission is in manual mode.
The first instalment of Maserati's move into the mainstream is a good as anyone could desire. If you have the coin, the Quattroporte is now a legitimate contender in the upper luxury market rather than a niche player. Passion now has a practical side.
Maserati Quattroporte V6
Price: $280,000 (est)
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited km
Service interval: 2 years/20,000km
Safety: Not rated; six airbags
Engine: 3.0L twin-turbo V6, 301kW/550Nm
Tranmsision: Eight-speed auto, RWD
Thirst: 10.5L/100km, 244g/km CO2
Dimensions: 5.26m (L), 1.95m (W), 1.48m (H)
Spare: Tyre repair kit
|(base)||4.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$81,200 – 102,630||2013 Maserati Quattroporte 2013 (base) Pricing and Specs|
|Sport GT-S MC Sportline||4.7L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$104,000 – 131,450||2013 Maserati Quattroporte 2013 Sport GT-S MC Sportline Pricing and Specs|