There are fast sedans and then there are fast sedans. Open your wallet and your climate cooled garage to the elusive six-figure territory, and options like the Mercedes-AMG S 63, BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupe, Audi S8, and Porsche Panamera Turbo become available. All of these options share a lot of traits, but the low hanging fruit ones being that they have more horsepower than supercars that are just a few years old, spacious seating for executives, and are German. Exotic, though, these aren’t.
No, if you want exotic in the modern era, you can only look to one country: Italy. Besides incredible food and breathtaking films, Italy has given America some of the best cars ever. And when it comes to sedans that can match those aforementioned German brutes, there’s really only one option: the 2019 Maserati Quattroporte GTS GranSport.
With all of the videos on YouTube that gibe at the Quattroporte for its reliability issues and hilariously poor build quality, we wouldn’t be surprised if you wrote the car out of existence. Exotic is a good thing, except when it isn’t.
Yet, anyone that remembers the old episode of “Top Gear,” the good one with the original trio, where they put the Quattroporte up against the Panamera Turbo and the Aston Martin Rapide in a battle of four-door supercars will recall what made Italy’s oddball so special. It was the most rambunctious of the bunch, the one that shouted the loudest, the one that was the most enjoyable to drive. It was also the toughest one to live with.
Maserati kindly lent us a gorgeous and fully loaded Quattroporte GTS GranSport for a few days to ball it up. With a starting MSRP of $138,980 and a tested price of $150,410, it’s easy to feel like a baller. Reliability and build quality jokes aside, the Quattroporte, at least the one we tested, sang an ode that was as memorable as Ride of the Valkyries.
Ferrari doesn’t have a sedan in its lineup, which makes the Quattroporte GTS GranSport one of the few ways to get a sedan with a Ferrari-built V8. Talk about exotic. The GTS GranSport’s figures may not seem all that impressive, but just the fact that it comes with an engine that’s built by Ferrari gives it enough brownie points to fill up a Little Debbie container.
Let’s get the GTS GranSport’s specs out of the way, because their the weakest part of the package. The engine is a twin-turbo 3.8-liter V8 that churns out 523 horsepower and 524 pound-feet of torque. Those figures are just meh, because the M8 Competition Gran Coupe makes 617 hp and even the modest Panamera Turbo produces 550 hp.
Even zero-to-60 mph times bathe the GTS GranSport in a humble light. The official time from Maserati is 4.7 seconds. That’s the slowest out of the bunch. The S8 is the second slowest and it’s nearly a whole second quicker (3.8 seconds). The new M8 Competition Gran Coupe is mega quick, boasting a time of 3.0 seconds.
It’s easy to say specs don’t matter, but at some level they certainly do. The GTS GranSport may be the sportiest and the most hardcore model in the Quattroporte lineup, but it’s not the top dog in the Maserati family. That honor goes to the Levante Trofeo that’s rated at 590 hp. Heck, even the Levante Trofeo is quicker to 60 mph than the Quattroporte GTS GranSport (3.7 seconds). At some level, specs matter. Or why else would Gerrit Cole be getting paid $324 million to make sure he’s clean shaven for the next nine years?
But in the grand scheme of things, these specs are as infinitesimal as the death of NGC 2371/2 in the Gemini constellation to the majority of people, including those that can actually afford the darn thing. Plus, the GTS GranSport is just so good and it’s overflowing with that special trait enthusiasts clamor over that it simply doesn’t matter.
There are two very unique sides to the Quattroporte. The first one is being a comfortable, insanely quiet, and blisteringly quick highway cruiser. This thing is an Italian Eurofighter Typhoon in a straight line. There’s very little to no drama, just speed. Loads and loads of speed. Pull on the left paddle a few times and anything can be overtaken. It’s even good in stop-and-go traffic with little fuss.
Then, there’s its side that comes out when “Sport” mode is engaged around corners. Even on winter tires, the way the GTS GranSport corners with such confidence makes one reconsider the need for a weekend two-door sports car. It is just as sharp and just as enjoyable as a coupe when being flogged. The steering wheel may be overly heavy, but there’s decent feedback coming from it and the engine, adaptive suspension, transmission, and exhaust system all come alive with a slight tingle that urges you to take the upcoming corner with more gusto.
Instead of making noise, it’s like the exhaust is yelling “Più veloce.”
If there’s one issue with the Quattroporte’s powertrain, it’s that it’s gone too far to the docile side. Before Maserati dropped off the keys, I listened to an exhaust clip of an older model and immediately knew what I had to do as soon as I received the car: go to my parking garage and rev the heck out of the thing. I did exactly that within five minutes of taking delivery of the sedan. Report: things aren’t as good as they once were.
From the inside, you barely hear the V8. My wife loved the Maserati so much because she claimed it was quiet. With a Ferrari engine under the hood, I don’t know if that’s a good thing. Engage “Sport” mode and a few flaps in the exhaust system open up. Things in the cabin, though, don’t change all that much. It’s still a hushed oasis. Only from outside the sedan does it sound good. But boy if you’re standing outside and “Sport” mode is engaged, it sounds fantastic. Exotic, soulful, titillating, hire someone to stand outside every place you go and record it to give you a real idea of what it sounds like.
Cars are expensive. Cars like the Quattroporte GTS GranSport are insanely expensive. I can’t imagine spending $50,000 on a car, nonetheless $150,000 a car. But if I had $150,000 to spend on a car and I bought the Quattroporte, I’d be disappointed with the interior. It’s the weakest point of what is a stellar machine, but not for the reasons one may imagine.
Previous Maseratis have been condemned for having nonsensical cabins with infuriating controls. That’s not the case with the new Quattroporte. Sure, the majority of control switches and buttons have been plucked from other FCA products, but they’re all located in logical locations and work just fine.
The only real gripe I have with the buttons is the two-dial setup for the infotainment system. The top, smaller dial is only to control the volume, while the larger, bottom dial is used to scroll through the infotainment system. Unfortunately, if you’re using Apple CarPlay, like I did for the majority of my time with the car, there’s really no need to scroll through things. Scrolling is easier when using Maserati’s infotainment system, but even then, it’s not really intuitive.
There are some nice features in the cabin, too. The 12-way front sports seats are fantastic and the available Bowers & Wilkins audio system and real carbon fiber trim are excellent. Both were pricey options, but excellent to have. My favorite things about the interior are the blue-faced gauges and the blue-faced dial on the watch. The shade of blue is gorgeous and while it may throw some wealthy executives off because it clashes with the exterior color, they’re gorgeous.
My main issue with the Quattroporte is build quality. When I go on long drives, I usually rest my leg on the transmission tunnel. Normally, this isn’t a big issue. But with the Quattroporte, this resulted in a horrendous squeak every time my leg bumped up against the piece of plastic. If there was a bump and my leg hit it, squeak. If I was anxious in bumper-to-bumper traffic and my leg slightly brushed the piece, squeak. Then, there was the dashboard, that squeaked and rattled when driving over truly horrendous roads and railroad tracks.
It’s peculiar, for a $150,000 car, the Quattroporte’s cabin is filled with durable plastics that look like they’re from a V6-powered Dodge Charger. Everything that’s front and center is finished in exquisite leather, but start looking around and things quickly take a turn for the worst. A lot of these subpar materials just disappear when you push the start button and take hold of the pistol shifter, but they still exist.
Despite the poor build quality, Maserati’s made some interesting decisions to pack the sedan with all sorts of cubbies. The most interesting one is located directly to the left of the steering wheel that’s as long as my entire forearm. I have no clue what someone would use this is cubby for besides an Italian baguette or a bottle of marsala. The glovebox has a shelf where you can place things, if you’d like, and the center console has a nifty way of opening in a butterfly motion. A little cubby for your smartphone is located under the infotainment screen, too. It’s odd that Maserati put so much time and effort into designing these cubbies and ignoring the rough plastics.
One. That’s the number of people that recognized that the car was a Maserati. Just one. It was an older gentleman that simply looked at the sedan outside of a Dunkin’ Donuts and said, “Hey, that’s a Maserati.” No one stopped traffic to take a picture. No one came up to me at a gas station to ask about the car. Nothing. I swear, I was asked more questions when I was behind the wheel of a Kia Niro EV.
Despite having a gorgeous shade of purple/maroon called Rosso Folgore, 21-inch wheels, and matte red anodized brake calipers, the Maserati didn’t draw any attention to itself. To some, that’s a bad thing. And I get that logic. You’re spending $150,000 on a car, you want to get some recognition. For others, like myself, I love that. This is the ultimate sleeper and you’ll rarely see one on the road. There are plenty of S-Class sedans and 7-Series sedans, but Quattroportes, especially in the GTS GranSport guise are rare.
The prominently displayed trident badge works in two ways. For one, it throws people for a loop. You see, Mercedes sells oodles more S-Classes than Maserati does of its Quattroportes. That means you can speed along minding your business in the Quattroporte, and when the time comes, you can dust everyone while they simply have no idea what happened. Secondly, it means you’ll get valet parking and preferential treatment wherever you go. It’s an exotic badge that isn’t seen every day. A quick search reveals just how expensive these machines are and bingo, you’re being treated like a big leaguer.
I love the way the Quattroporte GTS GranSport looks. I really don’t think the vehicle has a bad angle. It’s just the right amount of aggressive and luxury and when finished in an interesting paint scheme, like Roso Folgore, looks stunning. The chrome trim pieces are a nice touch, too. Have you seen the 50 shades of gray Mercedes is offering with the S-Class? It’s hilarious to see how entirely different Maserati is with the Quattroporte.
Getting the opportunity to drive the Quattroporte GTS GranSport is a once in five years kind of thing. Automakers rarely give out expensive cars like these to freelance journalists, so I made sure to make my few days count. Everyone I knew got a ride. And everyone that got to spend some time with the car loved it. But everyone loved it for different reasons. Some loved the way it looked, others fell in love with the interior, a few loved how fast it was, but everyone loved the way it made them feel. That’s the thing about the Quattroporte GTS GranSport. It’s a special car and it makes you feel like a special person.
On a lazy Saturday, I talked my immediate family into going on a spirited drive with me. It’s been a long, long time since any of them have been on a cruise with me, so I don’t think they knew what was coming. My sister, father, and mother all know about my lead foot and history for driving a little too quickly around corners, but this is a large sedan. They probably thought it wasn’t all that curvy road friendly. I picked the perfect road for the job, a 15-minute stretch of tarmac I had memorized thanks to hundreds of runs as a teenager and dropped the hammer.
Sport mode engaged, windows slightly down, the drive commenced. Trees became a blur, marked lines went out of focus, the wind flowing into the car started as a quiet murmur soon became a roar, and posted speed limit signs became a bad joke. The Quattroporte GTS GranSport took the corners in stride, performing like it was built for this exact kind of thing. Needless to say, I was having a blast. My dad and sister? Not so much. They quickly learned just how fast and capable the Quattroporte was and figured out that they weren’t quite comfortable with it. My mom, on the other hand, well, she giggled, laughed, and requested more speed.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen her smile and laugh like that since her leg surgery, but all it took was 15 minutes of time, a Quattroporte GTS GranSport, and a good road. If it can do that, it is indeed a very special car and worth every single penny.