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TheCarConnection.com read reviews from a wide range of Web sites and publications to bring you the highlights in a definitive review. TheCarConnection.com editors also drove the Quattroporte and include their own impressions and details in this Bottom Line to help provide you with the best information.
The Quattroporte made its production debut five years ago, yet the sleek four-door sedan looks just as fresh and sexy today as it did then. In this case, good things come to those who wait, as Maserati phased in a number of improvements to the 2009 Maserati Quattroporte over the year, resulting in a better-rounded sport sedan with much-improved drivability.
The Quattroporte has a silhouette that's recognizable from a distance, with its shark-like front end, aggressively raked windshield, and smoothly sculpted roofline that leads to a very elegant tail; the vehicle's designers have deftly mixed elements from sports cars with long-and-low elegance. Inside, the 2009 Maserati Quattroporte doesn't exhibit the tight, holistic design of a true mass-produced luxury sedan, but details like leather piping and real wood trim bring a warmth to the cabin that's absent from stark, Germanic luxury sedans.
Those looking at the 2009 Maserati Quattroporte alongside big luxury sedans like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class should be aware that the Quattroporte is a completely different animal; it's more a four-door sports car (said in a non-marketing sense) than a sporty luxury sedan. The suspension can get a bit jittery on patchy back roads, and there's more road noise than you might expect. And the Ferrari-designed, dry-sump V-8 under the hood is an omnipresent, rumbling companion. To us, that's a big part of the QP's appeal; its faint rumble in gentle driving yields to more urgent sounds under brisk acceleration and a tuneful wail by the time it reaches its 7,500-rpm maximum.
Standard on the 2009 Quattroporte is a 400-horsepower, 4.2-liter version of that V-8 engine, while the Quattroporte S gets a 430-horsepower, 4.7-liter and the new Quattroporte Sport GT S picks up a 434-hp version of the 4.7-liter. Though Quattroportes in previous model years came with a balky Duo-Select gearbox—one of the roughest automated manual transmissions TheCarConnection.com has tested, and especially out of place on a sedan—the 2009 Quattroporte comes only with the six-speed ZF automatic transmission first offered last year on the Quattroporte Automatica.
To match all the available power, the 2009 Maserati Quattroporte has huge Brembo brakes with a pedal feel that's exotic-car firm and secure from triple-digit speeds. While the Quattroporte isn't the quickest for straight-line acceleration—5.6 seconds to 62 mph for the QP, just 5.1 for the Sport GT S—its very nimble feel belies its 4,400-pound curb weight. Aiding that is a front and rear double-wishbone suspension and the recommended (optional) Skyhook air suspension, which is very quick to firm up when needed, yet otherwise relaxes for decent ride comfort. There's a Sport mode, as well, keeping the dampers at a stiffer setting.
Performance cars that only offer automatic transmissions are always a bit suspect to us, but the Quattroporte's powertrain is extremely rewarding with the six-speed automatic. With the gate moved over to the left, paddle-shifters beside the rather small-diameter steering wheel are in control; they provide a precise-feeling click when they're pulled back and deliver an almost instant shift. Downshifts are especially neat, as they're almost instantaneous and come with a throttle blip. Or you can just putt around in Drive and forget about the shifting, which then is quite unobtrusive.
Even though the 2009 Quattroporte is big on the outside, it has an intimate feel inside, thanks to side pillars that angle inward more steeply toward the roof than is typical, along with a prominent center console that restricts the driver and passenger footwells somewhat and brings a true sports car cockpit feel. Front seats are snug and supportive, and in back there's space for two to ride in relative comfort—though headroom is surprisingly limited by the roofline. In all, comfort isn't a strong point for the QP. The curvy, beautiful shape also brings a few sacrifices. The trunk is small—only large enough for a big suitcase and a couple of weekend bags. Storage bins and sturdy cup holders aren't a complete afterthought, though. You'll find all the usual luxury features inside, but absent are the high-tech features offered in some high-end lux sedans, such as head-up displays and blind-spot systems.
New for 2009 is the Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT S version, which includes a lowered suspension with stiffer tuning, plus a sport exhaust and revised engine/transmission tuning. It's dressed up a bit too, with a black grille that has distinct concave vertical fins, along with black trim for the doors, door handles, and twin-oval exhausts. Headlights have a unique design as well. The interior is finished in a Titantex composite trim, and sport seats are finished in Alcantara and leather.
Exclusivity is one of the reasons to own a 2009 Maserati Quattroporte. With just a few thousand of them in the United States, you're unlikely to encounter another one, and even if you do, the chances of it having the same color and style are next to none—most QPs are built to order, with a wait time of about four months, plus multiple upholstery, paint, and interior trim combinations.
The Maserati Quattroporte has not been crash-tested, but it includes seat-mounted side airbags in front and head-protecting curtain bags covering the front and back. Anti-lock brakes and stability control are standard, as are great bi-xenon HID headlamps.