2015 Maserati Quattroporte S Q4 Review
by Randy Stern
Once in a lifetime, a person gets to experience what “amazing” feels like.
“Amazing” feels like a level of nirvana was achieved. It also feels like someone has lifted the clouds that hovered over said person and provided infinite and perfectly blue skies. It also warmed the Earth with a perfect 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
Then, it appears. As if someone had selected a grand coach for that ultimate drive. It has an air of elegance, cloaked in a design that is nothing short of beautiful. Step inside and the level of “amazing” raises another level. The finest hides cured and stitched like a work of fine art. Carpeting that feels so rich, that your feet will feel at ease, even with shoes on.
The keys are handed to you. It is a heavy key – substantial as the car itself. It enables the ignition to fire – with just a touch of the button. At that moment, the sun opened up with bountiful rays of gold. The exhaust is a symphony that is part-Verdi, part-Jimmy Page. It is as Luciano Pavarotti, Robert Plant and Aretha Franklin took the stage together at Teatro alla Scalla for a command performance…
If I only wished this was true. The reality was met at a small peninsula park on the shores of Lake Minnetonka. Prince was not there to purify anyone, since it was frozen over. The plows did not make to the roadway by the shore. The air is sub-freezing, while there were no clouds in the sky.
It was a perfect day to drive the 2015 Maserati Quattroporte S Q4.
The flagship sedan of the Trident is marked with the task of doing battle in a very coveted segment – the flagship. To be a flagship, it has to accommodate rear seat passengers in terms of space and luxury. It has to have a large trunk to swallow luggage and very important documents. It also needs to be fast to run away from the media.
However, no one said it had to delight the driver, as well. Flagships aren’t meant to be driven, right? A few, yes, but not as a rule of thumb.
Then again, this is a Maserati. It is meant to be driven. After driving it, I only have one question to ask: Is it a flagship worthy of ownership?
The latest Quattroporte was designed to regain focus in combining the best of both worlds – a sports tourer with great rear seat space and luxury that rivals other flagships. For this generation, the Quattroporte retains a lot of the brand’s design signatures – large low grille with the trident badge, slim headlamps that are integrated with the fenders, three side ports with chrome frames on each side of the car, a silhouette that is part sedan, part GranTurismo and a rear deck that is both subtle with traditional Maserati elements. The roof has a three-glass side profile that extenuates its limousine credentials, as well gives an air of flagship space inside.
Dressed in Nero, this Quattroporte flashes the sportier side on the S Q4 model. Twenty-inch alloy wheels finish off the look with some of the red brake caliper housings making this big sedan look like it is ready for action on any road – and track. It is dressed to kill!
Inside is perhaps one of the most tailored and comfortable interiors of its kind. The front seats are big comfy chairs with rich Italian leather that are perfectly bolstered. You are locked into the seat without complaint. The padding is absolutely balanced and simply cushy. Rear seat room is perfect for two adults with great head and legroom for over six-footers. The middle transmission hump may prevent a third adult to sit, unless all three are smaller than average. The rear footwells may be the challenge since the tunnel is not only high, but wide. Just like the front seats, the rear seats are equally comfortable.
Instrumentation and dash layout is similar to the Ghibli, which in itself is fantastic. I love the smallish dials for the speedometer and tachometer, but the center TFT screen is excellent. Customization is available from the steering wheel for excellent trip information and graphics. There was an issue with having the paddle shifters close to the steering wheel rim for big hands to take the wheel at 9-and-3, but there is a way around it. I wished the turn signal/wiper stalk was a bit further back from the left paddle – just minute complaints.
In the middle is Maserati Touch Control, one of the best infotainment screens in the business. It is simply an 8.4-inch touch screen with great big graphics, including navigation. Voice commands and redundant switches on the steering wheel simply make the MTC work well. Once you master the shifter for the automatic and worked your way around the cabin, then you are in full control of one of the most pleasurable places to command a vehicle from. It is simply one of the best sedan interiors in the world.
Once you settle in to take command of the Quattroporte, a push of the button to the left of steering column will fire up the Ferrari-developed 3.0liter twin-turbocharged V6. With 404 horsepower on tap, it is one of the smoothest engines of its kind, not to mention it is very responsive without any turbo lag. Making things smoother is a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission – again, one of the best transmissions of its kind. You do not feel any shifts, but they are very quick. There is a Sports and Manual mode for better shift control from the paddles on the steering column.
Being it is the S Q4, the Quattroporte’s all-wheel drive system is simply great. As it was tested in snowy surfaces, the system sends power to all wheels to ensure nominal slip. I could not imagine having a Quattroporte without this all-wheel drive system. It also helped to have Pirelli Sottozero 3 winter tires to make things easier to manage in the snow.
What struck me about the S Q4 is the notion of complete balance and control. This sedan weighs 4,610 pounds. That may seem heavy to a lot of us, but it is surprising light in feel. That twin-turbocharged V6 does a magnificent job of propelling all of that weight effortlessly. Not to mention, acceleration is very brisk. Maserati states that the S Q4 goes from 0-60 in 4.8 seconds. I can attest that this Quattroporte can really fly.
Then, there’s the rumble. You do not feel it physically, but you can hear it. Turbocharged engines do not rumble – but this one does! This beautiful soundtrack is alive! It brings character to this big wonderful flagship. That noise from the engine, as filtered through the exhaust, is what makes this Quattroporte rock! Believe me – it is pure rock n’ roll with digital remastering. That is not a bad thing!
It is worth reminding everyone that this is Maserati’s flagship sedan. To be a great flagship, it must have the best balance between a smooth comfortable ride and superior handling. When on smooth surfaces, the Quattroporte is perfect with excellent dampening keeping things well balanced. You will feel some potholes and cracks, but the suspension gets back to work to recover quickly as if you did not feel a thing. Going through the curves in Normal mode provides some feeling of lean and roll, but in practice, the Quattroporte kept flat with the road. Put it into Sport, and the dampers tighten up. While you gain more control through the curves, the ride quality becomes a bit firm. When it is driven on cracked and potholed surfaces, you will feel the feedback – but not enough to jar you from your seat.
Steering is sharp and reactive. On-center is OK, but that could be fixed by putting the drive mode into Sport or Manual. In those two modes, steering feel tightens up and keeps the wheel dead center when going forward. The thick rimmed wheel is simply the right size to command the road – not too big and not too small. Braking is superb. Stopping power is excellent in any kind of traction situation, even with the ABS system keeping the Quattroporte in line on snowy surfaces. Expect short and sharp stops in normal, panic and winter situations.
The pro tip for driving the Quattroporte: If you just want to cruise and enjoy the drive, keep it in Normal. However, if you feel like attacking the nearest curvy road – put it into Sport or Manual.
In terms of fuel economy, the S Q4 shows a combined rating of 18 MPG based on current EPA standards. In my short stint in the Quattroporte, I turned 17.4MPG – close enough even in cold conditions.
The Quattroporte S Q4 is priced from $106,900. This example came with a with upgrades and options, bringing the sticker price to $119,000. There is another model to consider – the GTS. With 523 horsepower from a twin-turbocharged 3.8liter V8, it could be yours from $140,500. The GTS only comes with rear wheel drive.
Why This Ride?
– To answer the big question from earlier: This is a flagship that meets all of the criteria – including satisfying the driver – therefore it is a vehicle worth owning. There is no need to compare the Quattroporte with the usual suspects in the field. Doing so would miss the point of this car. It is a big cruiser with room for two adults in the rear, powered by a Ferrari-developed twin-turbocharged engine with the intent on creating a unique and extraordinary experience every time the ignition is switched on.
– No, it’s not German…or British, Korean or Japanese. It’s Italian. If you know Italian cars, they come with a soundtrack, sumptuous leather and Old World craftsmanship. In the new Quattroporte, Old World meets New…and don’t think it’s bad for business! It makes the Quattroporte more desirable.
– Above all, the Maserati Quattroporte did one thing that a lot of great sedans try to do – instill instant confidence. Some vehicles require studying the various systems to ensure a perfect drive – infotainment knobs, screens and understanding various nuances of each feature. It may sound silly, but the Quattroporte is very simple to operate. Thusly, giving the driver more confidence when taking it for a very long drive along the back roads. All one needs to do is settle in for the drive. That to me is a sign of a really good car.
– If given the kind of money to purchase a flagship sedan for my own use – and could cover up through the budget of a Rolls-Royce Ghost – it would be the Maserati. For all the reasons given here. Yes, it is that “amazing.”
Photos by Randy Stern