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Maserati Quattroporte GTS GranSport review – improved saloon sadly lacks character

Maserati's limousine is more competent than it's ever been, but still has faults and lacks the character of its predecessor

Evo rating
Price
from £115,980
  • 194mph top speed, smooth-spinning V8, generous rear legroom
  • Unsettled ride, vague steering, tight rear headroom

The saloon car with the world’s most exotic name for something as prosaic as ‘four-door’ has just had a mid-life facelift, with a subtle re-sculpting of the front and rear, a re-worked interior, minor calibration tweaks to gearbox and engine and a new range structure, including GranSport and GranLusso lines for each powertrain option.

Engine, performance and 0-60mph time

The Ferrari-built twin-turbo V8 produces the same 523bhp (at 6800rpm) as before. Despite 479lb ft of torque from 2250rpm it’s entirely happy with being wrung out right to the limiter. It’s an oily-smooth engine in operation, but its note won’t make your grin from the moment you twist the key in the ignition. Devoid of any limiter, its 194mph top end makes it the quickest V8 saloon on the market. 0-62mph takes 4.7sec.

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ZF’s familiar eight-speed ‘HP70’ ‘box is still the sole transmission choice, with 100ms shifts. It’s a great partner for the V8, and can be shifted manually either by sturdy, tactile metal paddles behind the steering wheel or via the central shift lever. It’ll let the engine head-butt the limiter in manual mode, but will also rather confusingly kick-down beyond an ill-defined point in the throttle pedal’s arc.

Technical highlights

Sat behind the grille is now an active shutter that varies the airflow into the engine bay according to the engine’s requirements. This speeds up the cold start procedure (by shutting), enables every model to have the same sized radiator (saving money), but improves the airflow under the car by closing again at high speed. It makes for a 10% reduction in aerodynamic drag, reducing the Cd to 0.28.

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Inside, the re-worked centre console features a new higher-resolution infotainment screen that now matches contemporary standards, and the leather chairs and general fit and finish of the somewhat conservatively styled cabin are as sumptuous as you’d hope for the price tag. For those being driven, rear leg-room is very generous, but occupants appreciably over six foot in stature will feel the headlining rather close in the front seats, and brushing their head sat in the rear.

What’s it like to drive?

Dynamically, the big Maserati is much the same as before. It all starts promisingly at low speed, aided by impressive refinement that new ‘cavity’ sound insulation has improved still further. The steering has real weight to it, and the Quattroporte is now an outsider in retaining hydraulic power assistance. That sounds like a good omen, but the benefits aren’t there in practise: there’s a surprisingly pronounced ‘sneeze factor’ around the straight-ahead, and then unnatural ramping up of weight thereafter. While there’s little to be gleaned from the rack during cornering, it also suffers from pronounced kickback over poor surfaces, compounded by a ride that can be confused by the same challenge, the variable ‘Skyhook’ dampers stumbling over larger intrusions that impact far too much into the cabin.

This remains is a very different car to the old ‘03-’13 Quattroporte, and a much better limousine than that car ever was. But it’s also much less of a sporting drive, with a far from ebullient character and a reduced presence, and while these latest improvements are certainly worthwhile, the same flaws remain in a luxury limo class with some outstandingly talented new rivals.

Price and rivals

Those rivals include everything from the Aston Martin Rapide S at the upper end to the ageing but still immensely capable Porsche Panamera below. It’s a disparate market but one thing that links them all is a breadth of talent that the Maserati can’t quite match without the old car's charm to call upon.

The Quattroporte GranLusso and GranSport start at £115,980.

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