"It's not something we officially recommend doing, but you should do it anyway," says Maserati's boss of vehicle integration Benedetto Orvietani.
"When you're between villages, drop all four windows, press the Sport button and give it full throttle. The sound is fantastic."
And it is, although the pop-bang you'll get on the overrun is even more dramatic. Dual-path exhausts provide the aural fireworks, and they're far from inappropriate for the 2014 Maserati Quattroporte despite its considerable scale. The previous Quattroporte was quite a long car, but this version is bigger still, its rear cabin enlarged to suit the Chinese customers who are now the biggest buyers of Trident-bearing automobiles these days.
Well Suited to American Tastes
But Maserati hasn't forgotten the American market (now its second largest), which is why this V6 version of its flagship sporting limo can be had with an all-wheel-drive system that's an essential for middling to big sedans these days.
As you might expect of a Maserati, this system has not solely been developed for harsh winters, but also to make the best use of the twin-turbo V6's prodigious power and the Quattroporte's helpful 50:50 weight distribution. The all-wheel-drive hardware represents only 132 pounds of a 4,214-pound total weight, a number that's 154 pounds lower than for the outgoing rear-drive Quattroporte. Not bad considering that it had a 4.7-liter V8 and similar horsepower numbers.
Thrust in this 2014 Maserati Quattroporte is produced by an all-new 3.0-liter V6 built in Maranello by Ferrari just like the larger 3.8-liter V8. Maserati engineers had a major hand in its creation, however, crafting the combustion chambers, the variably timed valvetrain and the direct-injection fuel system. Although the two engines are architecturally different, they are members of the same modular family.
Impressive Power for Its Size
The result is a V6 with a nearly unmatched power density. We're talking 404 horses and 406 pound-feet of torque from as little as 1,750 rpm. Combine those numbers with an eight-speed automatic transmission and you have a responsive car at any speed.
The V6's twin turbos provide a fat stream of power while the transmission does a fine job of reading your desires in the standard mode. In Sport mode it delivers a near-psychic performance, slurring into lower ratios with a pleasingly reedy fizz from the exhausts. You can do it all manually with a pair of finely cast, column-mounted paddle shifters, but you'll need to concentrate hard to do any better than the transmission does on its own.
If surges of eco-guilt follow these blasts you can hit the I.C.E. (Increased Control and Efficiency) on the console and aim at improved fuel economy. In I.C.E. mode, the system chokes off some of the drivetrain's urge with a much softer throttle map.
Maximum Traction Action
The Q4 Active Torque Control system theoretically allows as much as 100 percent of torque to drive the front wheels, although the rear-biased system typically sends 70 percent of the power to the back wheels. These proportions shift in response to a forest of sensor-harvested dynamic data, something you can monitor via the all-wheel-drive graphic in the instrument cluster.
It reveals an initial 50:50 distribution if you crush the throttle from a standing start on a wet or slippery road, effort gradually shifting to the rear as your speed inflates. Not that there's much time to be observing this while you're indulging the Maser's thrust.
In contrast to the early, rear-mounted-transmission versions of the previous Quattroporte, the gearbox is now bolted directly to the engine (as with post '97 versions of the last car). An ideal 50:50 weight balance is achieved in this new iteration through careful component location and the extensive deployment of aluminum hardware. Around 60 percent of the body shell is aluminum (hood, trunk, doors) and 35 percent of the car's total weight is aluminum or magnesium.
Buttoning up for a Blast
A mix of urgent low-rev go, a smooth-shifting transmission and incisive steering underline this big sedan's sporting character from the start. And you can sharpen it further still with the line of sometimes hard-to-read ESP/Manual/I.C.E./Sport/Shocker buttons that reside next to the sometimes fiddly shifter.
The Sport mode sharpens the throttle, enlivens the transmission's gearing mission (and cuts out 8th gear), firms up the electronic Skyhook shocks and beefs up the steering's weight. It also reroutes the exhaust gas passages to provide a highly absorbing soundtrack if you're in the mood for back-roads adventuring.
Quick, clean-acting and accurate hydraulically assisted steering helps, as does the QP's innate balance and reliable traction. There's a bit too much body roll in the stock settings, but pressing the shock button improves the QP's equilibrium and does so without doing much damage to the ride. For optimum ride quality, it's best to avoid the optional 20-inch wheels and tires, as they're too often tripped up by potholes and expansion strips in either mode. These intrusions can also produce a bit of steering kickback.
What's Not To Love?
There's little doubt that this V6-powered Quattroporte has the dynamics and the performance to satisfy buyers in this price range. That would be the six-figure price range, as our test car stickered at just over $108,000.
It's also more robustly finished than the previous-generation Quattroporte, something Maserati had to get right to earn some credibility. Oddly, its cabin doesn't feel as lavishly sumptuous as the previous car even though it's built with more care. The appearance of Chrysler switchgear is disappointingly cheapskate, even if the items are functionally fine.
Thankfully, the rest of the 2014 Maserati Quattroporte remains a blue-blooded car of considerable charm. It has significantly deepened capabilities and a dynamic repertoire worthy of its glamorous name. All-wheel drive only makes it more enticing, as winter weather is no longer an excuse to overlook it. Maserati is hoping this is the start of a more prominent presence in the U.S. and we see no reason why it won't succeed.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
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