I have always had a soft spot for Maseratis. The first Maserati I drove was a 3200 GT close to 20 years ago. It was a mad, engaging thing that wanted to be loved and was equal parts terrifying and refined. It didn’t have turbo tag, it had turbo eternity. It was the most on/off car I have ever driven. The “squishy” clutch just added to the fun of trying to control the mad 3200 GT. The interior was not bad in a Fiat parts bin mixed with a lot of Italian leather sort of way and it did sport a set of quite cool rear boomerang lights. Mrs. SSO drove one and declared it demonic. She is a big fan of linear acceleration. Since this initial introduction, we have owned several of the trident fork badged Italian machines including a GranSport, Granturismo Cabrio, and one that just arrived.
The first Maserati we owned was a 2006 GranSport. It was only with us for about 9 months. It had a great Ferrari supplied engine and in sport mode, drove fairly well despite the horrible six-speed Cambiocorsa paddle shift transmission. The switchgear was quite cheap with bits falling off on a regular basis. On the road if you pushed it hard, it could keep pace with the Ferrari 360 Modena we also owned at that point. The GranSport was another Maserati that was far from perfect, but it did have plenty of character.
Mrs. SSO’s daily driver for the past eight years has been a magnificent 2014 Maserati Granturismo Cabrio. Other than a couple of bad batteries, the Granturismo has been completely issue free. Unlike most 2+2s, you can actually fit real live adults in the back of the Granturismo without fear of death threats after 5 minutes. The 4.7L Ferrari supplied engine is a joy to drive and has one of the best soundtracks of anything on the road today. While not especially quick given its 2-ton plus heft, open the throttle up and the Granturismo can cover huge amounts of ground quickly and in a high degree of comfort. Mrs. SSO normally drives it with the top down but it’s not claustrophobic even with the roof up. Overall, the Granturismo is a great combination of elegance and performance. It’s a car that is enjoyable to drive every time you get behind the wheel.
Recently, Mrs. SSO allowed me to borrow the Granturismo for a short road trip down to New York City. The round trip was 420 miles, and it took about 4 hours each way due to the soul destroying I-95 traffic in Connecticut. The early morning drive down was a bit of an adventure as the weather was not great and temperatures had dropped considerably the night before. While there was no frost or snow in sight when I left, that wasn’t the case 100 miles later. Central Connecticut had gotten a bit more than a dusting and the road surface was quite frozen as demonstrated by the several cars I saw that were parked at unexpected angles well off the side of the road. Through all this the Granturismo behaved like a saint and did not jiggle its tushy even once. The drive back a couple of days later was much more uneventful and there were a few stretches where I was able to open it up and push a bit. The Granturismo both sounds and feels the best when driven in sport mode. The heft disappears as you get it moving with the car flowing nicely while it shrinks around you. The only negatives I noticed where just how dated the infotainment system was but if my memory is correct, it wasn’t exactly state of the art when the car was new. All in though, the Granturismo is a very elegant special car and I do understand why Mrs. SSO is so fond of it.
Coming off the Granturismo trip, which was triggered by the office reopening, it became apparent that I would be doing a bit of long range commuting on a fairly regular basis over the next 12-18 months. The Use Case here called for a car that would be comfortable for cruising for hours on the highway, able to handle stop and go traffic without breaking a sweat, carry more than two people on occasion, sturdy enough not to be fazed by the lunar landscape type roads around New York City, have a modern infotainment system with Apple’s CarPlay, and when the weather turns cold again, have four wheel drive for when the white stuff comes drifting down. Nothing in the current garage quite ticked all these boxes but one of the latest versions of the Granturismo’s bigger 4 door brother, the Quattroporte, certainly did.
Over the past decade we have had the pleasure of driving multiple different versions of the last 2 generations of Maserati Quattroportes. Elegant with an edge is how I would describe them. The Quattroporte is a luxury car that can move when you want it to. The Ferrari supplied V8s have plenty of character and V6 twin turbo versions move smartly when pushed a bit. The ZF automatic gearboxes are excellent and driving them in manual mode provides quite the enjoyable driving experience. As I have had a soft spot for the QP for a while, we decided to see if we could find one that ticked all the boxes in an understated spec.
Quite fortunately my favorite Maserati dealer in Dallas, (who also supplied the Granturismo) just happened to have a 2018 Quattroporte Q4 Gransport show up in its inventory a couple of days before I reached out. The QP Q4 is Nero/Nero and came with just about every possible option box ticked. I think it has more carbon fiber trim than a couple of our McLarens. The QP Q4 is powered by a 424 bhp 2.9L twin turbo V6 both designed and built by Ferrari. The gearbox is a ZF-supplied 8-speed automatic gearbox and in the Q4 (4WD version) is connected to an electronically controlled multi-plate wet clutch which sends power through a drive shaft to an open differential. When needed the system can divert up of 50% of engine torque to the front wheels. Reviewing the Use Case, the QP Q4 ticked all the boxes. After a couple of phone calls, we had a deal and the Quattroporte was loaded onto a truck and sent on its way up to Boston.
In our limited time together, I have already put 500+ miles on the QP Q4. So far it has delivered brilliantly against the Use Case that was the base of its acquisition. The big Maserati is a lovely, comfortable place to spend several hours getting from point A to point B. It cruises effortlessly at highway speeds, and with a tug or two on the left hand paddle, you have plenty of power for a quick overtake. Apple’s CarPlay on the Maserati’s touchscreen display works very well and I would retrofit it to every car (ex the F40 and Senna) we own if I could. The seats are quite comfortable, and with the adjustable foot pedal box, setting up the perfect driving position is easy. The start/stop function is a bit of an annoyance as it defaults to “on” every time you restart the car. The car extended length and weight is only really noticeable when you hustle it down a back country road. It’s a car that makes you feel like a responsible adult when you drive it. The QPs appeal to my inner 7 year old is very limited. Like every other Maserati we have owned, the preferred driving mode is “Sport” as it tightens everything up and makes the car feel more alive and responsive.
I can’t see a time anywhere in our future when there would not be a Maserati in the garage. Mrs. SSO’s Granturismo Cabrio has been a terrific car. It is always a pleasure to drive, and mechanically has been bullet proof. The plan on the Granturismo is to keep it and run it into the ground. Given the cars condition, it might just well outlive us. It is still early days on the Quattroporte Q4. It is a great match for the Use Case it is fulfilling but once that Use Case disappears, whether or not it stays is very much still an open question and will be for quite some time. I have also toyed with the idea of trying to import a mad 3200 GT into the US once they hit the magic 25 years old threshold and are exempt from US DOT/EPA regulations.
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