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