Overall rating: 3.5/5
While Maserati's flagship saloon has left some of its sporting character behind it has matured into a car that now puts the emphasis on luxury, and it makes for a stylish alternative to the obvious choices in the sector. Naturally the diesel model tested here for the first time is the only one that makes any sense to Ireland but it has nowhere near as much cachet as the petrol-powered versions. Saying all that, those that do decide to be different will no longer have to make excuses for their choice, as it's a polished car with seemingly good quality an no obvious chinks in its armour.
In the Metal:
I nearly rated the Quattroporte diesel lower in this category, but realised that was because of the uninspiring colour and wheels fitted to this particular car. A bright metallic hue and decently proportioned alloy rims (Maserati offer 21-inch designs) transform it from subtle and sober to stylishly Italian. It's huge looking though and the stats show it has grown in comparison to its predecessor, better to compete for business in the chauffeur driven sector. Notably there's no long wheelbase option. And rear accommodation isn't bad at all, if not as cavernous as the long wheelbase examples of its main rivals. Quality is good too, from the soft supple leather with special looking embossed tridents to the large and intuitive touchscreen interface (buyers at this level are unlikely to realise that it's shared with lesser brands). There are a few quirks in the cabin, including a button marked ICE, which has nothing to do with in-car entertainment or slippery roads (it stands for Increased Control and Efficiency and is basically Maserati's 'comfort' mode) plus a very impressive set of large alloy paddle gear shifters mounted to the steering column housing. Lovely to use as they are, they're nearly pointless in the diesel model and the left hand paddle gets in the way of the single column stalk that control indicators and wipers etc. As an owner you'd get used to it no doubt.
There's nothing bad about how the Quattroporte Diesel drives, but neither is it in any way sporting. That's a step change in approach for Maserati and probably a sensible one if it has any hope of being anything other than a left field choice in the luxury market. In fairness, the Quattroporte's steering is good and in Sport mode it comes more alive, but it doesn't encourage its driver to hustle it. Treat it like a luxury car and it'll live up to expectations with good refinement and comfort, even if the V6 diesel engine is more audible than it should be. That's about our only complaint with it though, as it produces a useful 275hp and 600Nm of torque, making for effortless progress when you're not in a hurry or hot hatch scaring acceleration when you are.
What you get for your Money:
As there is no Maserati dealership in the Republic as yet, Irish buyers need to go see Charles Hurst in Belfast to place an order. The Quattroporte Diesel is the entry-level model priced at GBP69,235 in Northern Ireland, which would be about €135,000 landed here at today's exchange rates. That's considerably more expensive than comparable models from the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XJ and Mercedes-Benz S-Class line-ups. Just two other variants of the Quattroporte are available: the 410hp Quattroporte S (sharing its engine with the Maserati Ghibli S) and a V8-engined GTS with 530hp at its disposal. All are exceptionally well-equipped, but the options and personalisation list is long, tempting and expensive.
Audi A8: more tech and engine options, plus quattro four-wheel drive, but not as interesting as the Maserati.
Jaguar XJ: divisive looks at times, but full of character and great to drive.
Mercedes-Benz S-Class: the class-leader right now and difficult to beat in any area.
Although Maserati's Quattroporte can now hold its head up high in a room full of the best luxury cars, it will always attract relatively less buyers than the German trio and Jaguar, appealing to those that are seduced by its Italian style and image above all else. For that reason it impresses us most in petrol guise, where it feels truly special. The diesel version is far more sensible, of course.