Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT 2007 Review
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In their infinite wisdom, Italians have had a fetish for fussy transmissions.
Not just automatic or manual or straight up and down sequential deals; but these fiddly operations that don't do any of the aforementioned smoothly, quickly or with any degree of finesse.
Alfa Romeo has been a classic example with its Q-system tranny.
Convoluted they are and Maserati's automated manual DuoSelect system is a quirky affair not suited to everyone's tastes or needs.
So it is to a warm welcome that Maserati has added a conventional sequential box to the biggest and most refined car in its streamlined range.
Maserati's move to add the highly decorated ZF 6-speed automatic transmission to its cracking, great big Quattroporte saloon, which has used the DuoSelect system since the 2003 launch, was always going to be a masterstroke.
The only challenge was that it needed reasonable engineering changes to the 4.2-litre V8 and the floorpan to install the ZF.
This auto box is on the back of the engine at the front of the car as opposed to the manual's location longitudinally mounted on the rear differential.
The engine has also switched from dry to wet sump lubrication.
Well balanced yet sporty, the rear suspension also came in for a rejig.
There is a slight shift in the weight distribution with a 49/51 front/rear split as opposed to the DuoSelect's 47/53.
Torque has risen 9Nm to 460Nm, of which 75 per cent is available at 2500rpm while the power output of 295kW is reached at a howling 7000rpm.
The Sport GT version, priced from $288,000, is dressed in 20-inch wheels with fatter and lower profile Pirelli P Zero tyres fitted at the rear than the front.
This version has a split personality that is far from being frowned upon is welcome with open arms.
In sports mode the engine sounds angrier, the dampers firm up, the revs rise and gears are held for longer. And you can pick gears on average a massive 35 per cent quicker than in normal mode. This is possible through a bit of tinkering with the electro-hydraulic transmission system's CPU.
It is also louder and prouder, the aural experience more than anything piques your senses and lifts the heart-rate.
Use the giant paddles integrated on the sports steering wheel and in this guise the Quattroporte is a blast.
Pressing the sport button, one of several in a vertical line on one side of the centre console screen, gives you instant attitude with the sound spewing out of the quad pipes going from a delightfully gruff rumble to a wilder, more manic tune in keeping with its Ferrari roots.
On the road the ride is reasonably compliant although there is some compromise over harsher surfaces with the 20-inch wheels (standard with the Sport GT) hanging off each corner.
This is but a blip to the overall package.
For such a big car, the new Quattroporte with the ZF tranny steers and handles remarkably well.
There is a nice balance to the weight of the tiller and it is fairly sharp, while the body remains composed with the active suspension, which Maserati famously calls Skyhook helping to keep a solid contact patch with the road.
There are other driving settings to play with like normal, winter and ice but with the latter not conducive to Queensland and normal designed to be employed if you've lost the desire to be entertained, Sport was given a fair workout on this test.
If you prefer everything to be less edgy, racy and not as primed, then normal mode does a nice job of giving you the performance and comfort to transport you and passengers to a fine Sicilian restaurant in cosseted luxury.
There are enough safety systems to cope with the performance of this piece of Italian exotica with MSP stability and traction control and six airbags and massive brakes.
And there is a fifth three-point seatbelt for the middle passenger in the rear seat.
A gentle dab on the brakes gives you enormous confidence. These anchors are powerful and the pedal feel is finely modulated.
The Quattroporte, like Bentley's similarly aspirational Flying Spur, offers a point of difference, to the traditional German large sedan crowd.
What you don't get is a whole lot of boot space, which is compromised and what's more there is no spare to swallow up any room either, although there is a little bit of storage room underneath the floor.
Officially the combined city/highway drinking rate of this Quattroporte is 14.7litres/100km. On travels between the Gold Coast and Brisbane in peak hour, our consumption was a little kinder, sitting at 12litres/100km.
Some of the controls are a bit cumbersome but then again if you owned one for longer than a week you could probably operate switches and dials blindfolded.
Maserati has evolved the Quattroporte, courtesy largely of the ZF box, into a fabulous package.
The prediction is that the automatic will quickly account for 80 per cent of sales and after sampling this offering over 400km it is not hard to see why.
It feels special, drives exceptionally well, has killer looks and sounds as commanding as an opera in Verona's famous Arena. The QP is not part of the mundane luxury crowd. That's what makes it such a hot package.
Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT
Engine: 5 stars
Loud and proud yet blissfully smooth
Transmission: 4 stars
The 6-speed ZF is a winner, programmed to perfection with the Ferrari-sourced V8
Handling: 4 stars
Meaty steering and its nimbleness defies its aircraft-style carrier bulk
Safety: 4 stars
Ticks all the boxes with a good dose of electronic brake, stability and suspension aids as well as six airbags.
Value: 4 stars
Easier to justify with its gorgeous styling and Ferrari engineering flavour than a German number which could have come off a limo fleet
Body: four-door saloon
Engine: 4244cc 90-degree, quad cam 48-valves, wet sump V8
Transmission: 6-speed ZF automatic/sequential
Power: 295kW @ 7000rpm
Torque: 460Nm @ 4250rpm
Tyres: front - Pirelli P Zeros 245/35 ZR 20; rear - 285/30 ZR 20
Dimensions (MM): 5052 (l), 1895 (w) 1438 (h) 3064 wheelbase
Fuel consumption: 12l/100km (as tested)0-100KM/H: 5.6s
Verdict for: Exquisite styling, fabulous powertrain, sharp handling
Verdict Against: Some of the onboard controls are a bit tedious, cramped boot.
Overall rating: 4 stars
Has a spirit that fuses red-blooded touring car performance with six-star pampered luxury
Range and Specs
|(base)||4.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$41,200 – 52,690||2007 Maserati Quattroporte 2007 (base) Pricing and Specs|
|Executive||4.2L, PULP, 6 SP SEQ||$43,700 – 55,220||2007 Maserati Quattroporte 2007 Executive Pricing and Specs|
|Executive GT||4.2L, PULP, 6 SP SEQ||$42,100 – 53,790||2007 Maserati Quattroporte 2007 Executive GT Pricing and Specs|
|Sport||4.2L, PULP, 6 SP SEQ||$48,300 – 61,050||2007 Maserati Quattroporte 2007 Sport Pricing and Specs|