The Maserati Quattroporte model revamp has been comprehensive so far. Maserati have chosen to give the Quattroporte two new engines, a turbocharged V8 and a turbocharged V6. The later of those two is the subject of our review today. We were given the first ever permanent four-wheel drive Maserati Quattroporte SQ4 for a day of testing on public roads a while back, below is our story!
The Maserati Quattroporte SQ4 tows the line between the entry level Maserati Quattroporte and the first of the V8 models. It is billed as a performance option for those that want the benefits the smaller V6 engine brings. Of course, with four-wheel drive, the Maserati Quattroporte SQ4 is also able to perform in adverse weather conditions, or even on a trip to the ski slope.
The 3.0 litre V6 Maserati have used here is twin-turbocharged. It gets 410 hp and 550Nm of torque which certainly provides enough power for what it is. The new Ferrari-constructed engine allows the Quattroporte to travel from zero to 100 km/h in less than five seconds and on to a top speed of 285km/h. Both figures are respectable, in fact, the top speed is just 2 km/h short of the Quattroporte Sport GT S V8.
Performance is obviously enhanced by the addition of the Magna Steyr four-wheel drive system. It is a sophisticated four-wheel drive system too, the front wheels remain passive until they are needed to help with traction. Maserati explain that this helps retain the responsive feel of a rear wheel drive system with the security of a four-wheel drive system for when conditions dictate.
The Maserati Quattroporte SQ4 is identical to its rear wheel drive counterpart, save for the subtle SQ4 badging on the back. A casual by-passer would not be able to tell the difference between the rear wheel drive and all wheel drive versions.
The V6 powerplant is, for all intents and purposes, the V8 unit with two of the cylinders removed. Maserati have worked hard on other aspects of the engine though, so whilst the combustion chambers, pistons, cylinders, and heads are similar in basic design, the V6 gets a 60 degree cylinder arrangement wheres as the V8 gets a 90 degree cylinder arrangement.
The differences between the two engines translate to a smoother experience in the V6. Its redline is placed 1,000 rpm below that of the V8 so it feels less frantic as a result. That isn’t to say it doesn’t perform though. Put your foot down and there is enough grunt to propel you to license threatening speeds.
On a hustle down some country roads, the Maserati Quattroporte does perform very well too. The addition of the four-wheel drive unit adds around 70 kg of weight to the package. It is balanced though so the Quattroporte retains the rear wheel drive’s 50:50 weight distribution. Obviously, the four-wheel drive unit creates a certain amount of understeer at the raged edge, mostly though, the feeling is very neutral with excellent agility and a firm ride.
One of the key design concerns for the Maserati team was whether they could create the oral sensation that Maserati owners expect of their cars. Whereas previous cans have been naturally aspirated, the turbocharged Maserati Quattroporte SQ4 has a noticeably different rasp. Two years of development have resulted in a deeper rasp than ever before. In sport mode, you can hear the baffles working hard to make a sensational noise.
The gearbox is a massive improvement over earlier Maserati automatic gearboxes. It is an AT8-HP70 eight-speed planetary automatic transmission provided by ZF. The Maserati Quattroporte SQ4 comes with the usual complement of selectable modes. The key options are Increase Control Efficiency which stunts the performance and dynamics to offer maximum eco credentials, Normal mode and Sport; the later two of those three have manual options.
The differences between the modes is distinct. Increased Control Efficiency is supremely smooth. With full auto mode engaged, it is difficult to hustle. Normal mode is a little more engaging with the choice to place the gearbox in manual and use the dash mounted paddle shifters. Gear shifts move noticeably faster in normal mode than in the Efficiency mode, yet the chassis remains relatively neutral.
The Maserati Quattroporte SQ4 comes alive in Sport mode. The most noticeable difference is of course the engine baffles. Fully open in sport mode, they provide the oral sensation you so desperately need in a Maserati. The ride is at its firmest here with super sharp gear changes. In Sport mode, the Maserati Quattroporte SQ4 feels quite the drivers car.
The looks of the latest model Quattroporte are a question of pure personal taste. Inside, you don’t quite get the interior ergonomics that German alternatives offer. Having said that, it is quite refreshing to see something a little different for once!
The wild array of buttons from the previous generation is all but gone. With that single design choice, the Quattroporte stands head and shoulders above the rest of the Maserati range (Ghibli excluded of course). The dash actually looks quite neat with a stepped design. The air vents neatly disappear into the trim, the gear shifter features all the necessary chassis buttons close-by (unlike the GranTurismo for example).
One disappointment is the aftermarket look of the navigation system. The trim surrounds stand at odds with the Quattroporte’s lightly curved shapes. One thing Maserati always get right is correctly sized paddle shifters. Naturally, they were a joy to use in the Maserati Quattroporte SQ4.
So, our conclusion. Well, the Maserati Quattroporte SQ4 is certainly the drivers car it needed to be. The dynamics, the pace and the oral sensation are right up there with the best. It doesn’t quite match its rivals for refinement and overall comfort though. So our ultimate conclusion is that the Maserati Quattroporte SQ4 is a fantastic car for those looking for pure sensation. For a more rounded package, it might be worth looking at the rivals too.