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Although it gives away a bit of performance to some powerhouse rivals, the 2006 Maserati Quattroporte provides the benefits of Italian design and a welcome alternative to the status quo in the luxury sedan segment.
Distinctive style, crisp handling dynamics, relative rarity.
Not as powerful as some rivals, ride quality borders on stiff.
Available Quattroporte Sedan Models
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Sport GT and Executive GT versions join the lineup, bringing the Quattroporte family to three.
Although Maserati has produced its share of sexy, fast and coveted sports cars, it didn't have the same kind of success with its sedans. Debuting in 1963, the "Quattroporte" (four-door) was one of the fastest sedans of its time, but the build quality and desirability of this fleet four-door diminished as Maserati struggled financially throughout the '70s and '80s. Things got so bad that the company pulled out of the U.S. market in 1990. After Ferrari bought half the company in the late-'90s, Maserati came back strong with the fast, handsome and well-built Spyder roadster and four-place Coupe.
Last year the revival continued with the rebirth of the Maserati Quattroporte. Styled by the legendary design house of Pininfarina, it's impossible to mistake the Quattroporte for anything else but a Maser. Somehow the car looks more svelte than its substantial size; after all this is a sedan with a 120.6-inch wheelbase and a 199-inch overall length, making it about the same size as a Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The illusion doesn't stop there, as the Quattroporte also handles like a much smaller sport sedan. The well-balanced chassis boasts a double-wishbone suspension with adaptive dampers, and a 47/53 front-rear weight distribution. Factor in precise and well-weighted steering and the result is a prestigious luxury sedan that not only coddles its passengers but provides a decidedly entertaining drive for the enthusiast behind the wheel.
Of course, being Italian means the price of admission is hefty, and there are other premium sedans that offer equal or greater luxury for less money. But among the sport-oriented luxury sedan set, which includes cars like the Jaguar XJR and Mercedes-Benz S55 AMG, the Maserati is certainly the most exclusive and possesses the most flair. It may not pack the ultimate wallop in terms of ripping acceleration that a few of its rivals do, but certainly there's enough performance on tap to satisfy most speed-hungry enthusiasts. All in all, there's plenty to like about the Quattroporte. If nothing else, it's a refreshing change that will certainly turn more heads in the Hamptons than the oh-so-common 7 Series or S-Class.
The 2006 Maserati Quattroporte comes solely as a sedan. There are three trim levels: base, Sport GT and Executive GT. The base Quattroporte comes with 18-inch wheels, an adaptive "Skyhook" suspension system, bi-xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights, dual-zone climate control, a Bose audio system with CD player, and a navigation system. As its name implies, the Sport GT adds more performance hardware, such as 20-inch alloy wheels (fitted with 245/35 front and 285/30 rear Pirellis), drilled brake discs with colored calipers (red, silver or titanium), sport exhaust, a modified six-speed sequential shift gearbox for faster gearchanges, carbon-fiber interior trim and aluminum racing pedals. The Executive GT pulls out all the stops by adding chrome mesh for the grille and side vents, polished 19-inch wheels, Alcantara headliner, a choice of wood accents, massaging front seats, rear climate control and pull-down tables for rear passengers. A rear-seat DVD entertainment system, run-flat tire package, sunroof, CD changer and wide variety of special exterior colors and wheel styles are among the options.
A double-overhead-cam 4.3-liter V8, developed by Ferrari, powers every Quattroporte. It's rated at 393 horsepower at 7,250 rpm and 333 pound-feet of torque at 4,750 rpm. Maserati claims that zero to 60 mph takes but 5.1 seconds and puts the top speed at 171 mph. A six-speed sequential-shift manual transmission (called "DuoSelect") with an electrohydraulic clutch sends the power to the rear wheels. DuoSelect allows manual gear-changing via steering-wheel-mounted paddles or, if desired, it can function in a fully automatic mode.
The Maserati Quattroporte comes well stocked with safety features. Front side airbags, side curtain airbags, traction control, antilock brakes and stability control are all standard. A tire-pressure monitoring system comes bundled with the run-flat tire option.
Although leather and wood trim are common in the luxury class, the attention to detail and the wide variety of available cabin accents (Rosewood, Mahogany, Walnut, Briarwood, Piano black or Titanium) set the Quattroporte apart. Seating is comfortable for touring (though we'd like more lateral support in the GT models) and tailored for four, as indicated by the contour of the rear seat. The handsome dash and console has a lot of look-alike buttons, so it takes awhile to acclimate to some controls. Trunk capacity stands at 15 cubic feet.
Although it weighs well over two tons (4,400 pounds), the 2006 Quattroporte is surprising easy and enjoyable to drive aggressively thanks to its communicative steering and excellent body control. The price paid for this athleticism is a stiffer ride than expected for this class of car. Step into the throttle and the Quattroporte responds with a yowl from the V8 as it gathers itself up. Those used to the forceful, supercharged grunt of the Quattroporte's chief competitors may find the Maser a bit soft off the line, but the satisfying action of the ultra-responsive DuoSelect transmission more than makes up for that minor demerit.
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