Oil, re­fined

The Maserati yurbo diesel V6 may up­set the purists ... un­til they drive it

Herald Sun - Motoring - - ROAD TEST - JAMES STAN­FORD james.stan­ford@news.com.au

MASER­ATIS were sup­posed to have high-revving V8 en­gines that could sing and snarl. A Maserati with­out a V8, like a Big Mac with no meat, just seemed odd.

That no­tion bit the dust when the ex­otic Ital­ian brand put a V6 into its Qu­at­tro­porte sedan — and now there’s a diesel ver­sion.

Maserati reck­ons the diesel op­tion was needed to match the po­tent oiler en­gines in other lux­ury four-doors such as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A8 and BMW 7 Se­ries.

Not that it ex­pects own­ers of V8 Qu­at­tro­portes to switch to diesel. In­stead, the V6 turbo diesel Qu­at­tro­porte is de­signed to lure people who al­ready love diesels into the big Ital­ian sedan.

Some people pre­fer the torquey na­ture of a diesel to a faster-revving petrol en­gine, says Maserati spokesman Ed­ward Rowe.

“Fans of diesel like the great wave of torque that a strong diesel en­gine of­fers,” he says.

Buy­ing a diesel for its bet­ter fuel econ­omy is not an is­sue at this end of the mar­ket, Rowe says. “They don’t need to save money on fuel but they are more likely to en­joy the longer range of the diesel, mean­ing they don’t have to fill up as of­ten,” he says.

That said, the diesel Qu­at­tra-porte is the least ex­pen­sive model in the range, kick­ing off at $198,800. (The petrol V6 costs $240,000; a world away, the rip-snort­ing V8 costs all of $319,800.)

Sud­denly, a diesel Maserati doesn’t seem so odd, es­pe­cially as all three mod­els get pretty much the same fea­tures and share the same grand swoop­ing de­sign.

Maserati reck­ons one in 10 Qu­at­tro­porte cus­tomers will pick the diesel.

The new petrol en­gines of­fer strong per­for­mance, the six makes 301kW and the V8 belts out a stag­ger­ing 390kW. These twin turbo en­gines were de­vel­oped by Maserati but are built by the folks at Fer­rari.

Fer­rari in­volve­ment with the Qu­at­tro­porte is not new — the last one used the V8 from the cracking F430 su­per­car.

The new diesel is not from Fer­rari. In fact, a near-iden­ti­cal ver­sion pow­ers cars bought by the rather more com­mon Chrysler 300 and Jeep Grand Chero­kee.

The Maserati ver­sion of the 3.0-litre V6 sin­gle turbo diesel has a more ag­gres­sive tune and a unique ex­haust, which means it can pump out more power and torque (202kW/600Nm) than in any other ap­pli­ca­tion.

The diesel worked well in the large Qu­at­tro­porte sedan dur­ing our test drive near Coffs Har­bour and cer­tainly moves along swiftly.

It takes a while to get used to the ini­tial lag but when the torque starts flow­ing the car re­ally surges for­ward.

There is some diesel clat­ter at idle but the en­gine is smooth and re­fined on the move. The sub­tle sporty note un­der ac­cel­er­a­tion is not enough to stir the senses.

Our car used 9.8L/100km on test, which is not bad given it copped a flog­ging dur­ing some sec­tions of the trip.

In com­mon with many lux­ury mod­els these days, the Maserati uses a ZF eight-speed au­to­matic and in this driv­e­train it works ex­tremely well.

The driver can con­trol shifts with pad­dles mounted on the steer­ing col­umn, but there is lit­tle point. Revving out a petrol en­gine and shift­ing at just the right point is fun; as diesels don’t rev too high, it makes more sense to leave it in Drive.

The Qu­at­tro­porte han­dles ex­tremely well for such a large car and this doesn’t change with a diesel en­gine in the nose.

The ride is a mixed bag, smooth on per­fect roads but jum­bled on im­per­fect sur­faces. Per­haps the lower pro­file rub­ber on the 20-inch wheels (19-inch­ers are stan­dard) played a role in this.

Lots of tugs and jolts also come through the steer­ing wheel, thanks partly to its hy­draulic as­sis­tance. A mod­ern elec­tric setup can fil­ter out a lot of this but Maserati says own­ers pre­fer the additional feed­back that comes with hy­draulics.

It’s not all about the driver hav­ing fun, ei­ther. Pas­sen­gers are also catered for with masses of head and legroom front and back. The vast boot swal­lows heaps of lug­gage.

Whether there is a petrol or diesel en­gine un­der the bon­net, the Qu­a­tr­ro­porte makes for a com­pe­tent grand tour­ing lux­ury ma­chine. But should it have a diesel?

Why not? I’d pre­fer a Qu­at­tro­porte with a petrol en­gine but some people love diesels and want a lux­ury car with lots of pres­ence. This should make them happy.

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