A taste of Italy to woo Australia
MASERATI is slowly coming out of the shadows of betterknown sibling Ferrari.
Ten years ago the company was selling just 80 cars annually in Australia but the tally is expected to climb to 500 this year. The aim is to expand to 1500 with two new models — including the company’s first SUV — scheduled in the next two years.
The most recent growth has come from the compact Ghibli sedan, at the expense of sales of the bigger Quattroporte.
To reignite interest in the Quattroporte, Maserati has added a fourth engine variant — a detuned and less thirsty version of its twin turbo V6.
With claimed fuel consumption of just 9.1L/ 100km, the 243kW V6 joins the 301kW counterpart, 201kW diesel and 390kW V8.
More importantly it brings the price of the car within cooee of the entry diesel and is likely to be a more attractive option than the diesel.
The company is also looking to attract more female buyers by a new Zegna silk interior upholstery option.
All four engines now meet strict Euro6 emissions, all are paired with an 8-speed automatic and all come with auto stop-start to save fuel.
As a result of this and other engine upgrades Maserati claims fuel savings of up to 12 per cent across the range.
Safety gear includes a rear view camera, blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert, although there’s still no autonomous emergency braking.
ON THE ROAD
Maserati is quick to defend the less powerful V6, claiming it provides an “unmatched” blend of performance and economy.
We put the claim to the test on a flying round-trip to the Hunter Valley.
The Quattroporte is more than five metres long and takes up plenty of road, so squeezing between semis in city traffic can be nerve-racking.
Thankfully others tend to give the car a wide berth, out of respect or perhaps concern for the likely cost of a bingle. Given the starting price in excess of $200,000, that’s a comfort.
Once we clear the city the big sedan is free to stretch its legs. With the transmission in sport mode and the adjustable dampers set to sport, we open up the throttle for the first time.
Progress is gratifying but don’t expect this one to pin your ears back.
Large metal gear change paddles are fixed to the steering column, so there’s no need to chase them around the wheel.
They’re handy for executing a quick gear change but it’s not until you switch to full manual mode that the V6 really comes to life.
The new model retains hydraulic steering, which reacts quickly and points well enough for a large sedan.
Our test car pulls up sharply, even without the optional Brembo brakes.
Baffles in the exhaust system are designed to open wide at 4200rpm to give full throat to the twin turbo engine.
It may not be the burble and bark of a V8 but there’s nothing wrong with the sound of a highperformance six — we just wish this one was a little louder.
At the end of our 320km jaunt the trip computer shows fuel use of 12.5L/100km.
Not bad but the eco mode (or ICE in Maserati’s parlance) and less right-foot vigour would probably produce a lower return.
A worthy addition to the stable.
It will enable intending buyers — especially those attracted by the Quattroporte’s style rather than performance — to overlook the entry diesel.