Aside from some minor cosmetic tweaks to the mid-level model, the Maserati Quattroporte returns for the 2011 model year as stunning as it's ever been over its six years in production.
The Quattroporte ("four-door" in Italian, of course) made its debut in the 2005 model year and still looks every bit as rakish and ravishing as it did on Day One. The smoothly sculpted roofline tapers into an elegant tail, marking a high point in the perpetual compromise between a sporty stance and elegant sedan bodywork. The rich interior adds to the mystique, with plenty of wooden trim and detailed piping on the leather seats.
Unlike the bigger German sedan rivals, the Quattroporte is more like a four-door sports car. Jaguar's XF and the new Audi A7 are good for comparison: the slightly harsh ride of the Q-Porte over rough surfaces is something to be overlooked, as is the somewhat cramped back seat, while the note of its 400-horsepower, 4.2-liter Ferrari-derived engine is something to be savored. The engine wails brilliantly at its 7500-rpm redline, and through its six-speed automatic transmission, pushes the base Quattroporte to 60 mph in about 5.5 seconds. A 425-hp Quattroporte Sport GT S model can hit the same mark in about 5.0 seconds. Both stride to speed in a hurry, though at 4400 pounds, they're clearly overcoming a weight problem. The transmission comes with a manual shift mode and paddles for shifting; they're located behind the somewhat small steering wheel.
Huge Brembo brakes give it the stopping power of a true supercar, though, and its independent suspension lends it a nimble feel--though the Skyhook air suspension is recommended to take the edge off the sometimes brittle ride quality.
The Quattroporte's cozy interior suffers from limited head room in back, but the front seats have ample room surrounding them. The trunk is large enough only for one full-size suitcase and a couple of soft-sided weekend bags.
There aren’t any independent crash-test results for the Quattroporte, but with seat-mounted side airbags up front and head-protecting curtain bags covering the front and rear, the car at least covers the bases. Anti-lock brakes and stability control are standard, as are great bi-xenon HID headlamps.
For the exclusivity of owning a Maserati, you'll pay a steep price--higher than the competitive Jaguar XFR, for example. You'll also have to exercise some patience, since the sedan is built to order--and orders can take four to six months to complete.
Read more about this Italian sedan in our recent full review of the Maserati Quattroporte.