Long known for exotic Italian sports cars, Maserati hadn't participated in the U.S. market since 1991. In 2002, the automaker offered a new Spyder convertible, and a Coup� soon followed. For 2005, the company has a new full-size four-door luxury sedan called the Quattroporte, which translates to "four doors."
Even though the Quattroporte debuted at the 2003 Frankfurt Motor Show, the car made its initial U.S. appearances in January 2004 at the Los Angeles and Detroit auto shows. By then, said Luca di Montezemolo, chairman and chief executive officer of Gruppo Ferrari Maserati, a few Quattroportes were already in the hands of U.S. customers. Sales officially begin in the United States in July 2004.
As the first Maserati designed by Pininfarina in the past half-century, the rear-wheel-drive Quattroporte is considered the first large Italian sedan in 40 years. Rivals include the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
The Quattroporte has Brembo all-disc brakes and a Skyhook automatic-damping suspension. A 394-horsepower V-8 engine works with Maserati's DuoSelect sequential manual transmission, which may be shifted using steering-column-mounted paddles. Maserati claims the Quattroporte can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in a swift 5.2 seconds. For optimum weight distribution, the engine sits back in the chassis, behind the front axle, and drives a rear-mounted transmission. The automaker says this is the first setup of that nature in a premium luxury sedan.
Based in Modena, Italy, Maserati is owned by the Ferrari organization. Maserati intends to deliver 2,000 Quattroportes worldwide during 2004. Each car is road-tested at the factory in Italy.
Maserati refers to the sensuously shaped Quattroporte as "contemporary Italian art," noting that it was "designed to combine style and elegance with a sporty temperament." Recognizable Maserati styling cues include the sedan's long hood, prominent grille and headlights, and the classic Trident emblem on the windowless C-pillars. Low-slung front fenders, short front overhangs, a swept-back profile, a high belt line and a steeply raked windshield also help establish what the company cites as the car's "authoritative persona [and] predatory appearance."
Up front, the broad horizontal-bar grille with a chrome surround contains Maserati's Trident badge at its center. The headlights sit slightly back, and a wide air intake goes below the grille. Three "portholes" are mounted on each front fender, ahead of the front doors. Eleven-spoke alloy wheels hold 18-inch tires.
Built on a relatively long 120.6-inch wheelbase, the Quattroporte is 198.9 inches long overall and 56.6 inches tall. "The car looks small," said Sergio Pininfarina during the car's American debut, though some observers might not agree. Inside, he noted, "the wood follows the shape of the car."
Five passengers can luxuriate inside the Quattroporte, where premium wood is complemented by handcrafted leather of the sort that might be seen on fine furniture. Rosewood is standard, but the buyer may specify a titanium-style finish, mahogany or burl walnut. Traditionally crafted wood meant to be reminiscent of luxury Italian sailboats can also be customized with inlay work.
"We don't believe in too many gadgets," di Montezemolo said during the Quattroporte's American debut. Standard features include 14-way power front seats with a driver memory, power rear seats, a power rear sunshade and a cooled compartment in the front armrest. Touching a button in the center rear armrest pushes the front passenger seat forward, supplying additional legroom. The Bosch-Blaupunkt Multi Media System includes a navigation system, Bose stereo and TV tuner. Backseat occupants can have a massage function, as well as an optional rear seat entertainment system with a TV screen between the front seats.
Under the Hood
Supplied by Ferrari, the Quattroporte's 4.2-liter V-8 engine generates 394 hp. The DuoSelect sequential manual transmission may be shifted manually using steering-column-mounted paddles. A low-grip mode is included for driving in poor weather conditions.
All-disc antilock brakes, the Maserati Stability Program, side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain-type airbags are standard.