Fashion and Beauty

Test-driving understated elegance: The Maserati Quattroporte and Coupe

Hot on the heels of test-driving the Ferrari 599, I had the opportunity to take a spin in two of its more civilized – and definitely more practical – cousins: the Maserati Quattroporte and Coupe.

Also owned by Ferrari parent company Fiat, Maserati was established in 1914 by the six Maserati brothers. They are currently headquartered in Modena making them Ferrari’s "friendly" cross-town rivals.

The newer of the two cars is the fifth-generation Pininfarina-designed Quattroporte which was released to the public earlier this year. This latest version of a legacy that began in 1963 comes in three packages with the Sport GT featuring modifications to the suspension, transmission and exhaust, 20-inch wheels (versus 18-inch for the base model) and sportier interior and exterior accents. The Executive GT version – which I had the pleasure of driving – features 19-inch wheels, retractable rear wood tables and ventilated, massaging front and rear seats which also, quite remarkably, recline! Not that you would want anyone else to drive your Quattroporte for you, but if you ever find yourself in the backseat of one, at least you know that there is plenty of legroom back there and you can configure the seat to your exact liking.

The Coupe is a two-door 2+2 designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro of Italdesign that was launched in 2002. Options include two versions of the transmission – the traditional manual gearbox and the Cambiocorsa, which boasts the Formula One-inspired steering column-mounted paddle shift design also found on the Quattroporte. There is also a two-seat Spyder convertible version of the Coupe.

In terms of performance, the two vehicles are actually very similar. Powered by nearly identical (the Quattroporte’s engine yields a marginally better 400 horsepower, versus the Coupe’s 390) 4.2-liter V8 engines designed by Ferrari but built by Maserati, the two cars yield a zero-to-100 kph time of 4.9 seconds for the Coupe and 5.2 seconds for the heavier Quattroporte. Although not quite as fast as some of its Modena neighbors in red and not exactly jaw-dropping by today’s supercar standards, the performance of the Maseratis is plenty good enough for anything short of a race for pink slips against only the best – and often more expensive – performance cars.

Although I am sure car aficionados may disagree, the Maserati is one of those cars that makes people turn their heads and say "What kind of car is that?" It is not as flamboyant as a Ferrari or Lamborghini and not as common as a BMW or Mercedes. It occupies that niche somewhere in between, together with other less recognized brands like Aston Martin.

Maseratis are also a lot more practical than some of its Italian neighbors. Try fitting two teenage kids and a Labrador in the back of your Ferrari! And forget about trying to bring two sets of golf clubs on your weekend trip to the golf course. Of course if you owned a Ferrari you could just as easily have your driver bring your Honmas for you in your Range Rover.

The Maseratis are also very much everyday cars. This is especially true for the Quattroporte, which surprisingly had copious amounts of legroom in the rear seat. Daily drivability is even more important here in the Philippines where the roads are relatively bumpy and sports cars with very stiff suspensions quickly turn into sculptures in your garage because they make you feel like a giant bobble-head doll whenever you take them for a spin.

Needless to say, cars in this price range will deliver the goods as far as performance and comfort are concerned. It just becomes a matter of what matches your personality and what kind of image you want to project.

I think Maserati owners choose them for what they say about their owners: understated elegance, subtle beauty, bespoke interiors, discrete and unassuming exclusivity. It’s the embodiment of the Italian lifestyle without sacrificing performance.

Quite simply, this is the kind of car I wish I had.
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Formula Sports, Inc. is the sole authorized dealer of Maserati in the Philippines. Tel. No. 897-8888. Fax No. 895-2677.
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For comments, e-mail me at [email protected]











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