Maserati Quattroporte 2008 Review

Hand-Built Luxury

In 1914, three of the six Maserati brothers set up shop in Bologna, Italy. Alfieri, Bindo, and Ernesto pulled together what we would call today a tuner shop.

All three sons had backgrounds in engineering and mechanics as their father was a railway engineer. Alfieri had been a test driver for Isotta-Fraschini. Their business was called, Officina Alfieri Maserati. They doctored other automakers cars while refining their performance.

Roots Firmly in RacingDuring World War I, they produced spark plugs. In the mid-1920s they designed and constructed a brilliant sophisticated 2-liter straight, 8-cylinder specifically designed for Grand Prix racing. By the late 1920s, Maserati built a deliberately extravagant 4-liter, 16-cylinder, twin dual overhead cams, just for racing. Deliberate extravagance was an angle for advertisement and profit. The concept was, win a race sell a car. Like Ferrari, Maserati has always made their mark in racing to aid their marketing of personal performance cars.

Maserati's logo is Neptune’s trident, the traditional symbol of Bologna. Could the three prongs have anything to do with the three brothers? The history of Maserati is quite colorful—winning many Formula One and many Grand Prix races. What might surprise you is that in 1938 and 1940 they won the Indianapolis 500.

Through the decades, many corporations have had their hands in Maserati. At one point the French automaker Citroen owned controlling shares. Citroen/Maserati built the front-wheel drive, V-6 powered SM. Later Chrysler controlled them and had them do a very unique and sad 4-cylinder engine with opera windows on a front-wheel drive K-car platform.

Balanced Mid-engine PowerMaserati has traditionally built mid-engine cars for better balance. Some of their mid-engines are right behind the driver yet in front of the rear axle. Other more modern designs like the Quattroporte are front mid-engine designs with the engine slightly behind the front axle. Mid-engine designs distribute weight more evenly which makes performance more predictable. BMWs new M3 is now a front mid-engine design. The Quattroporte puts 51% of its weight on the rear wheels which is so much better for foul weather and fun.

Since 1963, the Quattroporte has been the flagship of Maserati. This Quattroporte is designed by Pinnafrina Studios (think like Tiffany’s to jewelry) and has been for sale for about two years yet only recently reached perfection with its North American driveline. The light alloy V8 engine is 4.2-liters in volume and puts out 400 hp at 7000 rpm. 7500 RPM is a high red line for a V8 engine. Now, Fiat and Ferrari control Maserati and will use this engine in different variations.

This 4.2L engine is one of the finest and most fantastic engines we've ever driven. We were absolutely thrilled by the control feel and balance. The feedback was deserving of a standing ovation. This car doesn't have an accelerator pedal—it has an exhilarator pedal. One feature that is so special is the easy ability to sense when the engine has barely power on or barely power off. The precision is astounding. This engine makes this car happen.

Six Speeds of Surprising FunThe 6-speed automatic transmission is built by the German company ZF—it’s performance is like no other. It has three different settings, automatic, sport, and manual. The sport mode is too much fun. It held us in gear longer and used the torque curve better to create entertaining automatic fun. The hydraulic torque converter is strong and responsive with well picked gear ratios that really work with the cars engine and weight.

There were times driving in the sport mode where we really were full to the brim of excitement during urban driving and put the transmission back in normal automatic mode to ease off the excitement and thrill of it all. Manual mode can be a kick in the pants. From a standstill in first gear, mash the gas pedal (that's okay it's drive by wire, it can't hurt a thing) without touching the optional paddle shifter's or gear shift lever. Let the engine go to red line, and then witness how it throws you in the smoothest most firm way to second gear. This transmission has a very versatile character that is soft and smooth to firm and fast.

Hand-Made Classic Automotive Craftsmanship

This steel unibody is the beautiful work of a brilliant automotive design family now in the hands of the grandson of the founder. The body is about 199 inches long and a wheelbase of 120 inches. The body style is complex and sophisticated. It's soft with curves, yet aggressive.

By most anyone’s standards the interior is beautiful, particularly with contrasting piping on the seats. You can pick any color piping and or deviating thread color for interior stitching. What about a black interior with yellow piping or navy blue and a cream offset? The treatment of the interior materials is awesome. In comparison German cars seems so stark. This interior is a hand-done piece of art. You can practically feel the warm positive energy put in to the precision stitching of the materials. With your fingertips feel the different textures as you move around the car. Please look at and touch the seat before you sit in it. Look closely at how symmetrical and well sown the stitching is, particularly the design of each seat back.

Carbon fiber is particularly difficult to work with. We spent some time going over the carbon fiber trim on the interior, inch by inch and found it to be the finest. Some automakers actually use fake carbon fiber trim. Imagine fake plastic. Yes, the wood and leather are real in this car, but there's still plenty of use for plastic and this like all cars has plenty of plastic. But the plastic is so well done, no sharp edges and no unsightly seams, only symmetrical fit with rich colors and textures.

Pleasantly Simple Interactive Systems

The graphics for the navigation system are attractive and different. The controls are quick, direct and pleasant, easier than Mercedes, BMW or Audi's system. The electronic sophistication of this whole car is a cut above from where Maserati has been. But electronics do not take over this car. It clearly remains a driver-oriented luxury car that offers great performance.

Experienced Aluminum SuspensionUnderneath the passenger compartment is a traditional Maserati suspension with some very attractive cast aluminum components. The double wishbone suspension front and rear dampens automatically to road conditions and the way you toss, accelerate and brake. It’s dampening changes in sport driving mode. The spring coil around (coil over) shock absorber is a simple design that many cars use, but not at all four corners like Maserati. Maserati does something special here: infinitely variable spring height adjustment. Now it's easy for an owner to have their car lowered in inch or two properly the way it's done on a race car. It lowers your center of gravity.

The ride and handling of this car are different from any German American or Japanese car you have ever driven. Although the body and suspension components as well as the driveline for all very rigid. The bushings and isolators are not. Because of this and more, the ride quality seems jolly happy light and springy wanting to please. Bring this car to a firm stop and you can feel how the bushings and springs respond and recoil like a happy puppy. You can't tell as much on the acceleration, but you can really tell in the tight turns and the long sweeps are predictable and firm, yet not harsh at the limits of adhesion.

Featuring Entirely Comfortable & Heavenly ‘Ranges’

There are three ‘Ranges’ or models of Quattroporte, a Standard and Executive GT and a Sport GT. Prices begin at about $120,000. Be sure to look at the finest Lexus, Mercedes or BMW, to find out that none compare to the luxury or elegance offered by this Italian firm. Yes, the other luxury automakers offer more electronics and switches. We would be surprised if Maserati sold over 14,000 Quattroporte this year. When you buy a Maserati and take excellent care of you have a natural collectible car.

The back seats are really special in this car when you order the comfort pack. There are three levels of heating and ventilation as well as massage and reclining features. It's a little bit of heaven.

If you're considering a Lexus LS-GS, Mercedes-Benz CLS 55, S-Class, a Jaguar XJ or BMW 7-Series then you owe it to your own peace of mind and further automotive education to test drive this fabulous and different car from Italy.

2008 Maserati Quattroporte 4-Door Sedan: Fast Facts

Length

198.9 in.

Width

74.6 in.

Wheelbase

120.6 in.

Weight

4,099 lbs

Passengers

5

Drive

RWD

Engine

4.2L V8

Hp @ rpm

400 @ 7000

Ft-lb @ rpm

339 @ 4250

Transmissions

Automatic 6-spd

City/Hwy

13/18 mpg

Gas Requirement

Standard

Built

Modena, Italy

Safety Score

No data available*

Real Price

$129,000

Website

www.maserati.com

*Not agency or gov't crashed anywhere in the world.