The Truth About Cars » Maserati http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 04 Jul 2015 15:51:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Maserati http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/maserati/ Motorcars, Manhattan and Money http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/motorcars-manhattan-money/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/motorcars-manhattan-money/#comments Sat, 09 May 2015 15:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1054641   It’s impossible to visit Manhattan without noticing wealth and privilege. Though I’m loathe to use the P word as it’s been corrupted by politics, how else can you describe someone driving a S Class Mercedes-Benz with “MD” New York license plates other than as affluent and expecting special treatment from parking enforcement that won’t be extended to […]

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Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse, $2.4 million

It’s impossible to visit Manhattan without noticing wealth and privilege. Though I’m loathe to use the P word as it’s been corrupted by politics, how else can you describe someone driving a S Class Mercedes-Benz with “MD” New York license plates other than as affluent and expecting special treatment from parking enforcement that won’t be extended to some zhlub from Jersey in a Camry?

New York City generates so much wealth that the people there can afford the opportunity and real costs involved with insane traffic, general congenstion and expensive infrastructure. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising, then, that the New York International Auto Show is where car companies go to show off their goods from the top shelf.

 

Aston Martin Vulcan

Aston Martin Vulcan

Detroit may not be the center of the universe that NYC is, but the North American International Auto Show in Detroit is a huge event with the participation of a number of the largest corporations on the planet. Some of the displays cost millions of dollars to build. The Chicago Auto Show is, by some measures, even larger than the Detroit show. And while the Detroit show is more about new product and concept reveals, the Chicago show is about selling cars. While they sell a few cars in America’s second city, car enthusiasts living outside the NYC metropolitan area have a tendency to regard that region as hostile to automobiles, but the fact is the metro region is one of the biggest car markets in the world. Combine that fact with the area’s wealth and you end up with a car show that has, literally, tons of high end cars.

 

Koenigsegg Agera HH

Koenigsegg Agera HH

There was a time, before the auto industry’s existential crisis of 2007-2009, that just about every car manufacturer of note in the world had a presence at the Detroit show, including the ultra-luxury and exotic automakers. Ferrari used the Detroit show to introduce the 612 Scaglietti, Rolls Royce had press conferences at the Detroit show, and VW’s Lamborghini brand and Aston Martin, then owned by Ford, also had displays. Those brands haven’t had official stands at the NAIAS in years, nor have they had corporate presence at the Chicago show. Since Fiat was given Chrysler in the government bailout in 2009, you might have occasionally seen a Ferrari on the FCA stand, but lately Sergio’s outfit has been promoting Alfa Romeo and Maserati, so both of those brands had some cars at the big midwest shows this year, but nary a prancing horse could be seen at Cobo Hall or McCormick Place.

 

Maserati's stand at the New York Auto Show

Maserati’s stand at the New York Auto Show

However, the Maserati displays at the Detroit and Chicago shows this year were just small sections of the larger FCA stand. At the New York show, they had their complete North American lineup. The Maserati display was larger than those of BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz, and about the same square footage as FCA’s Dodge and Chrysler brands had. Maserati does sell cars in New York – I saw one on the West Side Highway near Canal Street and the Holland Tunnel, though I’d say the most common luxury car that I saw in Manhattan was the S Class Merc.

 

Lamborghini Aventador

Lamborghini Aventador, just $400K

Aston Martin not only had their full line out for inspection, they had their limited edition Vulcan track car front and center in their display; not quite the ideal car for Manhattan. Rolls-Royce, which hasn’t had an official display at the Detroit or Chicago show in years, had their full lineup in New York, as did their former stablemate Bentley.

 

Lamborghini Huracan

Lamborghini Huracan

It wasn’t just high end automakers, either. While in the long run the introduction of the new Chevy Malibu – hundreds of pounds lighter than the outgoing model while being larger and with more interior space – may prove to be the most significant new product reveal at the NYIAS, it was the introduction of two American luxury flagships, the production Cadillac CT6 and the concept version of the next Lincoln Continental, that seemed to have gotten the bulk of the attention. Besides the big Mercedes sedans, I also noticed more than a few slightly older, big Cadillacs, like 10-15 year old Devilles and STSes. They were privately owned, not livery cars, so maybe there’s a market for the CT6 in Manhattan.

 

McLaren 650S Spider

McLaren 650S Spider

Another mainstream luxury car maker, Jaguar Land Rover, used the New York show to introduce the Range Rover SVAutobiography, which has $120,000 worth of luxury and “bespoke” kit added to the $80,000 base Range Rover. Jaguar executive board member and director of design, Gerry McGovern, alluded to the maximum Range Rover as being at home in New York’s affluent Hamptons, and closed his description of the SVAutobiography with, “And, it’s very expensive.”

 

Range Rover VeryExpensive SVAutobiography

Range Rover VeryExpensive SVAutobiography

As Jaguar Land Rover and America’s two luxury brands introduced models at the top of their lineup, McLaren used the New York show to bring their carbon fiber based supercars down to a new price point, going after the Porsche 911 market with the McLaren 570S. Like Aston Martin and Maserati, the McLaren display featured examples of all of their current models, the new 570S, the 650S Spider, a 675LT, and the GTR dedicated track version of the top of the line hybrid hypercar McLaren P1. I don’t know a single car enthusiast that doesn’t regard the McLaren enterprise with respect, so all of those remarkable sports cars would have drawn me in, but for the occasion McLaren brought out a truly legendary automobile, a Gordon Murray designed F1. Not just any F1, but one of the three F1 GT “longtail” cars built by the factory to homologate bodywork used in the 1997 FIA GT Championship.

 

The new McLaren 570S

The new McLaren 570S, note the kiwi shaped cove in the door. McLaren’s logo is a stylized kiwi. Bruce McLaren was from New Zealand.

Jalopnik’s Raphael Orlove was photographing the F1 longtail while I was at the McLaren display and he concurred when I said that I could spend the whole day at their stand.

 

The 570S from the rear

The 570S from the rear

If you go to as many corporate auto shows and enthusiast car shows as I do, you can get a little jaded. I generally don’t take photographs of 1957 Chevy’s, ’69 Camaros or perfectly restored Isetta microcars. It was hard to feel jaded near the McLaren display, and not just because of their own cars. Right next to the McLaren stand was a display from Brian Miller’s Manhattan Motorcars, which has franchises for Porsche, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Lamborghini, Koenigsegg, Bugatti, and Lotus. Porsche, R-R, and Bentley, as mentioned, had their own displays, so Miller brought out some exotics.

 

McLaren 575LT

McLaren 575LT

Maybe it was because their fellow Italians at Ferrari skipped the NYC show, but Lamborghini didn’t have an official display, so Manhattan Motorcars had a red Aventador and a metallic orange Huracan. The two Lambos are not common cars, but they were flanking an even rarer car, a Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse. The 1,200 HP Bugatti is the fastest production roadster ever made.

 

McLaren's dedicated track P1, the P1 GTR

McLaren’s $3.1 million dedicated track P1, the P1 GTR

Even rarer than modern day Bugattis, though, are cars from Koenigsegg. Christian Koenigsegg, the mad genius from Sweden, has built just over 100 cars since he started building hypercars about a dozen years ago. The Koenigsegg Agera HH on display at the NY show is as rare as they come, a one-off Agera R customized by the factory for David Heinemeir Hanson, a Danish computer programmer who was responsible for Ruby on Rails, a web application development framework that has made him a very wealthy man. The car is painted in his favorite color scheme of blue and black, to match his one off Pagani Zonda HH.

 

FActory owned McLaren F1 XP GT "longtail" homologation prototype.

FActory owned McLaren F1 XP GT “longtail” homologation prototype.

I’ve been to lots of auto shows including one of the top three concours in the U.S. and I don’t think I’ve ever seen as concentrated automotive wealth as sat on the McLaren and Manhattan Motorcars stands (with the possible exception of the classic luxury car section of the Henry Ford Museum with its Bugatti Royale and Duesenberg J). I was only able to get retail prices on nine of the ten cars at those two displays. Not counting the McLaren F1 Longtail, there was about $9 million in cars. If you include the F1 you could at least double that figure. In 2012, one of the 10 competition F1 Longtails that were built for racing sold for over $13 million. No doubt the factory owned prototype would fetch similar or even more money, perhaps even enough to buy a nice Manhattan condominium.

Photography by Ronnie Schreiber. For more photos of the vehicles in this post, please go to Cars In Depth.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Connected-Vehicle Tech Takes Center Stage At 2015 CES http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/connected-vehicle-tech-takes-center-stage-2015-ces/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/connected-vehicle-tech-takes-center-stage-2015-ces/#comments Tue, 06 Jan 2015 15:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=972098 You’ve seen the 2016 Chevrolet Volt at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show; now see what else automotive-related is debuting at the annual tech show in Las Vegas. Whether you have an iPhone 6 Plus or a Nexus 6, Volkswagen has you covered for connectivity. According to AutoGuide, the automaker unveiled its new App-Connect system at […]

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MirrorLink VW CES

You’ve seen the 2016 Chevrolet Volt at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show; now see what else automotive-related is debuting at the annual tech show in Las Vegas.

Whether you have an iPhone 6 Plus or a Nexus 6, Volkswagen has you covered for connectivity. According to AutoGuide, the automaker unveiled its new App-Connect system at CES 2015 with a demo in its e-Golf. The system also works with MirrorLink, found on smartphones like the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy Note, and Sony Xperia Z. Other demos involving the EV itself included its Intelligent Charge wireless charging system, and the Perfect Parking autonomous parking feature.

Sticking with VW, future BlackBerry spinoff QNX announced it would partner up with the brand in providing its technology for new 2015 models, including the Touareg, Passat and Golf. The system supports 3D Google Earth and Google Street View, and offers real-time traffic information, reverse camera display, and four-zone climate controls among its array of features. QNX is also in use by parent company Volkswagen AG’s Audi and Porsche brands.

QNX also unveiled its latest concept car at CES 2015. Based upon the Maserati Quattroporte GTS, the Snapdragon 602A-powered QNX Quattroporte Technology Concept Car introduces the company’s take on autonomous driving. The concept uses ultrasonic radar, LIDAR and cameras to navigate and anticipate obstacles, as well as provide warning to those inside via its high-res touchscreen display from the CLA 45 AMG QNX Concept. QNX also brought an updated version of its Jeep Wrangler Technology Concept Car to demo the company’s technologies via a virtualized driving environment.

Those of you dealing with “the second coming of the polar vortex” might be happy to know that one day, you’ll be able to start your car via smartphone. Valeo’s InBlue technology uses Bluetooth to not only accomplish said task, but to also unlock doors, allow for secure vehicle sharing, and access vitals like fuel level and where your car is among the many silver-backed crossovers in the mall parking lot. InBlue is also compatible with smartwatches, and could hit the market as early as 2016.

Finally, 100 select BMW i3 owners in northern California will take part in a pilot program by Pacific Gas & Electric Company and BMW to study electric-vehicle charging time management, with the aim of improving the grid and reducing total cost of ownership of EVs. The target is to give PG&E 100 kilowatts of capacity at any time, even while groups of EVs recharge their batteries; BMW will determine when an i3 is charged, though owners can override via the i3’s smartphone app upon notification. Each participant will be paid a $1,000 incentive for their time.

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Maserati Sells As Many Units Through June 2014 As It Had For All Of 2013 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/maserati-sells-as-many-units-through-june-2014-as-it-had-for-all-of-2013/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/maserati-sells-as-many-units-through-june-2014-as-it-had-for-all-of-2013/#comments Fri, 20 Jun 2014 11:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=847945 Maserati may have had a slow 2013 as far as sales go, but the Italian brand is on pace to sell within the first half of 2014 as many cars as it had in the last year. Reuters reports CEO Harald Wester said that while the United States was Maserati’s biggest market, China, Italy and […]

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Maserati-Alfieri-Concept-01

Maserati may have had a slow 2013 as far as sales go, but the Italian brand is on pace to sell within the first half of 2014 as many cars as it had in the last year.

Reuters reports CEO Harald Wester said that while the United States was Maserati’s biggest market, China, Italy and Europe as a whole were making big sales waves for the brand, likely helping it move 15,400 units both in 2013 and the first six months of this year. He added that Maserati was on pace to hit its mark of 50,000 units sold annually by 2015, and 75,000 by 2018 as part of parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ five-year plan.

In product news, Wester proclaimed the Levante SUV would head for the showroom late next year or sometime in 2016, followed by the Alfieri in hardtop and convertible forms. Meanwhile, no new factories would be built, with an effort on filling current plants to full capacity in its fight to best the Germans in the sales game.

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Marchionne’s Grand Vision For FCA Faces Hard Financial Road To Success http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/marchionnes-grand-vision-for-fca-faces-hard-financial-road-to-success/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/marchionnes-grand-vision-for-fca-faces-hard-financial-road-to-success/#comments Thu, 08 May 2014 12:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=817858 Though Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne’s five-year plan announced this week may be ambitious, analysts are raising questions about how the plan will be funded — and how much will be needed — if it is to be successful, let alone live up to Marchionne’s vision. Automotive News Europe reports a large part of […]

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Sergio Marchionne - FCA

Though Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne’s five-year plan announced this week may be ambitious, analysts are raising questions about how the plan will be funded — and how much will be needed — if it is to be successful, let alone live up to Marchionne’s vision.

Automotive News Europe reports a large part of the problem for the plan, according to Bernstein Research analyst Max Warburton, is debt:

Much as we admire the ambition and think elements are achievable… it is hard to find conviction on the financing of the plan. Fiat is weighed down with huge debt, burdened by financing costs and is only thinly profitable. It’s (sic) cost of capital is huge.

Warburton adds FCA’s grand plan and its potential capital expenditure and R&D appear to be unaffordable and not prudent for investors, stating the company would need “a capital raise” for any part of the plan to pan out.

Aside from its debt, FCA also faces sales challenges from markets that are peaking or slowing down, with the European market being the biggest drag upon the automaker. However, independent analyst Marianne Keller said that with the recovery now taking place in Europe, paired with North American profits and a strong Jeep brand, Marchionne could “pull it off”; Marchionne himself announced during the five-year plan’s unveiling that he was considering a mandatory convertible bond to bring the needed financing for the plan.

Finally, FCA’s Q1 2014 results — a net loss of 319 million euros compared to a net profit of 31 million euros the year before — serve as a sign for both the company and its investors that FCA has more hard road ahead, a view best summed up by Macquarie Group analyst Jens Schattner:

If it was so easy just to launch new products to be successful in this industry, why wouldn’t everybody do exactly the same.

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FCA Beginning Maserati SUV Production In 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/fca-beginning-maserati-suv-production-in-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/fca-beginning-maserati-suv-production-in-2015/#comments Thu, 06 Mar 2014 13:45:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=766289 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne announced this week production of the Maserati Levante SUV will begin at the automaker’s Mirafiori plant in Turin, Italy beginning in 2015. Reuters reports Marchionne also proclaimed the Alfieri introduced at the 2014 Geneva Auto Show could go into production within 28 months if FCA wanted to make it […]

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Maserati_Kubang_front

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne announced this week production of the Maserati Levante SUV will begin at the automaker’s Mirafiori plant in Turin, Italy beginning in 2015.

Reuters reports Marchionne also proclaimed the Alfieri introduced at the 2014 Geneva Auto Show could go into production within 28 months if FCA wanted to make it so, noting that “the platforms and motors are there” for the grand tourer, though no word was given on whether the Alfieri will join the Levante at Mirafiori should plans come to pass.

Regarding the financial health of Maserati, Marchionne remained optimistic for what the future holds, stating the Alfieri was “an indication of things to come” for the luxury brand. Maserati’s increased profits also signal a sea change for FCA overall as they prepare for Alfa Romeo’s re-introduction into the United States this summer.

However, an uphill battle still waits for FCA; while Maserati moved 15,400 units last year, the figure is far short of the brand’s goal of 50,000 units for 2015. The brand must also contend with the likes of Audi and BMW, emulating their successes with more affordable vehicles while also avoiding potential damage to its image.

Along with the aforementioned re-introduction, FCA is crossing its fingers that their two-prong strategy will pay off big by bringing the Italo-American automaker back in the black by 2016, surviving the economic storm in Europe that has all but battered the auto industry as a whole.

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Review: 2009 Maserati GranTurismo S http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/03/capsule-review-2008-maserati-granturismo-s/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/03/capsule-review-2008-maserati-granturismo-s/#comments Fri, 13 Mar 2009 17:31:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=281342

Walking towards the Maserati GranTurismo S, I felt like a teenager trying not to stare at a Playmate's breasts. While the "base" GranTurismo's elegant lines, dignified proportions and powerful stance had captivated my attention, the S dared me not to look. I know; it's stupid. At the ripe old age of near-50, I'm supposed to have left my spoiler infatuation with the pet rock slowly starving to death in the basement. And yet, somehow, the GranTurismo's tail made the Maser's design pop, blending pole position with pole dancing. Yes, well, I'd just driven the base Maserati GranTurismo and found the brakes, seats and handling wanting. So I was ready to be disappointed. If you're jump aversive, here's the bottom line: I was and I wasn't.

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Walking towards the Maserati GranTurismo S, I felt like a teenager trying not to stare at a Playmate’s breasts. While the “base” GranTurismo’s elegant lines, dignified proportions and powerful stance had captivated my attention, the S dared me not to look. I know; it’s stupid. At the ripe old age of near-50, I’m supposed to have left my spoiler infatuation with the pet rock slowly starving to death in the basement. And yet, somehow, the GranTurismo’s tail made the Maser’s design pop, blending pole position with pole dancing. Yes, well, I’d just driven the base Maserati GranTurismo and found the brakes, seats and handling wanting. So I was ready to be disappointed. If you’re jump aversive, here’s the bottom line: I was and I wasn’t.

Stylistically, well, I think you know where I stand (so to speak). Suffice it to say, Maserati’s blessed both GranTurismo versions with dopey-looking, hideously expensive, ready for curbing wheels. [NB: here’s hoping the S’ pun projectors don’t fall flat; full size spare? Ha!] The only other external upgrade for the S: “integrated side skirts” (as opposed to?) and more attractive letterbox exhaust pipes. All of which isn’t very much. The S ain’t no AMG throwdown. Crunch time: the S had better offer something in the way of dynamic delights for that extra $10K or else why bother? Of course, that’s the exact same question afflicting the non-S GranTurismo, but there you go.

Fire-up the S and the resulting roooart indicates a much-needed power upgrade. Or at least less exhaust baffling. This iteration of the detuned Ferrari 4.7-liter V8 stumps up 433 hp (up 30 hp on the base model), and places 22 more lb·ft of twist (361 in total) underfoot. You’ve still got to wring the Maser’s bloody neck to get your wet sump adrenal system working—she redlines at 7600 rpm. But the GranTurismo S feels/sounds like a far more willing dance partner than its lesser-horsed sibling.

And it would be if it weren’t for the f’ing Ferrari F1-style cog swapper. Although the Maserati’s six-speed sequential robotic gearbox [their term] is smoother than the Quattroporte’s DuoSelect disaster, that’s like saying a hungry Rottweiler makes a better family pet than a deranged Doberman. Even in Sport mode, Mr. Roboto’s still significantly less capable and enjoyable than the DSG gearbox found in a $25K VW GTI. (Hence the news that Ferrari and Maserati are installing DSG in their models ASAP.) As for the Maserati GranTurismo S’ automatic mode, it might as well not have one. Clunk-a-chunk. I guess someone forgot what GT actually means . . .

OK, if I have to drive like my capelli’s on fire to get the best out of this beast, so be it. This time around, it all begins to make sense. First, and most foremost, the S’ Brembo brakes are firm friends. The anchors are powerful, controllable and dependable. If you’re in the market for a GranTurismo (did I just write that?), the Maser’s stoppers alone are worth the premium. Second, the S’ mechanical aria arrives unfiltered. Those of you partial to the sound of an Italian V8 (i.e. anyone with a pulse) should note that the GranTurismo S’ symphony of wailing, thrashing and screaming is as good as it gets. Short of a Ferrari. That shares the same engine. And offers more cachet.

Yes, there is that. It must also be said that Maserati’s porky two-plus-two is still more than slightly corner aversive. Long sweepers at stupid speeds? Andiamo! Rapid changes of direction? Boxster please. This despite the rumor that Maserati created the GranTurismo S—punishing gearbox and all—for track days. Seriously. The Italian brand has some major racing pedigree, and the stock GranTurismo would most assuredly die of one thing or another on a closed course. But the resulting GranTurismo S is neither fish nor fowl, neither balls-out sports car nor tennis-balls-in-the-trunk grand tourer.

Now, if they could fit the Maserati S with a proper autobox, you’d be looking at an entirely different proposition. A gorgeous, comfortable car that could lope as well as tear ass (albeit in a straight line). Needless to say, that’s exactly what Maserati’s doing with the next gen. Says so right on the box: Maserati GranTurismo S Automatic. Unfortunately, Maserati just can’t get their head ’round the whole luxury wafting thing. To wit: their recently unveiled “MC Sport Line.”

In short, the GranTurismo S demonstrates Fiat’s branding stragegy for Maserati. They’re positioning the storied marque as an “entry level” (a.k.a. budget) Ferrari, rather than a distinct, luxury-oriented brand. An Italian Mercedes, if you will. Given the GranTurismo S’ sheet-metal siren song, the aural appeal of its Fezza-derived V8 and the none-too-shabby urge, I’d say they’ve succeeded. Only one problem: that $100K 12K-mile Ferrari 360 sitting on the lot nearby. Which would you rather have? Well exactly.

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2008 Maserati GT Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2008/01/2008-maserati-gt-review/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2008/01/2008-maserati-gt-review/#comments Wed, 09 Jan 2008 11:22:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/reviews/2008-maserati-gt-review/ 07-gt-f3q-s.jpgThanks to modern speed enforcement, the idea of leaping large continents in a hugely fast, spectacularly comfortable car has become something of a quaint notion. And yet, upscale manufacturers still compete to build the ultimate GT (Gran Turismo). Reflecting the concept’s European origins, the short list of candidates for this honor all originate on the other side of the pond: the Mercedes CL63, Bentley Continental GT, Aston Martin DB9, BMW 650, Jaguar XKR and the Maserati GT. Having owned or reviewed all but the new Maserati, I decided to see if the mad Italian has what it takes to trump its continental cousins.

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07-gt-f3q-s.jpgThanks to modern speed enforcement, the idea of leaping large continents in a hugely fast, spectacularly comfortable car has become something of a quaint notion. And yet, upscale manufacturers still compete to build the ultimate GT (Gran Turismo). Reflecting the concept’s European origins, the short list of candidates for this honor all originate on the other side of the pond: the Mercedes CL63, Bentley Continental GT, Aston Martin DB9, BMW 650, Jaguar XKR and the Maserati GT. Having owned or reviewed all but the new Maserati, I decided to see if the mad Italian has what it takes to trump its continental cousins.

Aesthetically, the Maser has their measure. It’s the Jessica Alba of GTs. From any angle, the Italian coupe offers seemingly endless, perfectly shaped curves; all exactly where they should be. From its 60’ F1-style curvilinear maw, to the subtle swell of the front wheel arches, to the gracious sweep of its rear air spoiler, the GT tells the world that Maserati’s roots rock.  

07-gt-s-a.jpgThe coupe’s wheelbase accounts for much of the design’s success; only the epic Mercedes CL eclipses the Maserati’s 116" length. At 192" from nose to tail, the NBA proportions help make that delicious body look longer and lower than it really is.

Despite its size and girth, the GT’s trunk is puny; hard luck for hard case schleppers. To make matters worse, there is no spare. Since the trunk is opened via an electrically actuated lock, the battery’s location in the Maser's micro-compartment seems ill-advised. The side doors offer a choice of mechanical or electrical opening— which makes their operation feel less than bank vault-like during normal operation.

07-gt-int-cabin.jpgMaserati has dressed their deeply sybaritic cockpit with a myriad of highest-quality, owner-selected leathers, trim, stitching and wood finishes. It’s elegant, fragrant and sumptuous. On the downside, the seat is strangely unyielding, lacking all but the Jaguar’s range of adjustments. And the headliner is an effrontery in this class, bereft of the Quattroporte’s faux suede option. Even so, only the Bentley Continental GT’s interior can match the Maserati GT’s cabin for sheer indulgence.

A DVD-based navigation system dominates the Maser’s modern dash. Unlike the German competition, the Maserati GT lacks a complicated electronic interface– as there aren’t enough toys requiring mass manipulation. Unforgivably— at least for a GT– there’s no satellite radio, iPod-compatibility or Bluetooth connectivity. That said, the coupe's built-in 30-gigabyte hard drive jukebox and Bose-designed sound system is excellent. Sunroof fans should also look elsewhere (Mercedes is the only GT group member to offer a sliding sunroof). 

07-gt-tops-a.jpgNo push button start contrivances here. Just insert the key, turn and experience the fabulous snarl of a Ferrari-built, 405hp V8. The noise competes with the exterior beauty as the vehicle’s best feature. Sadly, revving the engine at standstill is about as good as it gets.

The previous Maserati coupe must have been judged too sporting for its audience; most of the performance and road feel has been engineered out. With the six-speed automatic transmission left in normal mode, the ride and shift quality is decidedly placid– which magnifies the heft of the helm. The GT’s two-plus tons of mass announce themselves in the corners, with lazy turn-in and relentless understeer. Brake feel is similarly muted and somewhat wooden. Despite the test vehicle’s 20” wheels, the car felt like it wanted to cruise the boulevards rather than bomb the Autobahn.

07-gt-engine-d.jpgPressing the sport button tightens the Maserati GT’s road feel, and the shifts become a little crisper. But there's no dynamic urgency built into this vehicle. Acceleration from naught to 60 takes a little more than five seconds, which is decidedly mid-pack for this category. The avoirdupois makes it feel slower.

I'm told that another 50 horsepower is on the way before the end of this year. It could not come too soon. Overall the GT’s driving experience feels dialed-back many notches from its full potential. At best, it’s a competent cruiser that encourages a relaxed demeanor– the antithesis of BMW’s 6-Series. 

07-gt-r-a.jpgAside from its outward beauty and glorious exhaust note, the Maserati holds one more trump card: its MSRP. The GT stickers at $117k, with most of its meager toys intact. The price undercuts the Mercedes, Aston and Bentley, and slightly exceeds the BMW and Jaguar. Just don’t expect an aggressive lease program; the residuals are dreadful.

The ultimate problem with the drop-dead sexy Maserati GT is endemic to its category: the GT Coupe has lost its original raison d’etre. Since the Maserati lives to look and sound good, perhaps that’s all that’s necessary to compete in a segment of declining relevance. As most wealthy pistonheads already have a plenty fast four-door, perhaps something a little smaller, lighter and less refined would serve their needs better. Audi R8 anyone?

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Maserati Quattroporte Automatica Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2007/02/maserati-quattroporte-automatica/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2007/02/maserati-quattroporte-automatica/#comments Wed, 14 Feb 2007 11:43:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=3152 57860_autoposition-4_people3-bis.jpgSince its introduction in 2004, the fifth gen Maserati Quattroporte has been a sedan poised on the brink of greatness. Its fatal flaw: a clunky automated manual transmission ill-suited to the model’s luxury mission. Unlike some propeller-badged Germans we could name, Maserati’s Italian parent heeded the catcalls directed at its high tech gearbox. FIAT sourced a ZF six speed fully automatic transmission to cure the problem, subito. So, are we there yet?

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57860_autoposition-4_people3-bis.jpgSince its introduction in 2004, the fifth gen Maserati Quattroporte has been a sedan poised on the brink of greatness. Its fatal flaw: a clunky automated manual transmission ill-suited to the model’s luxury mission. Unlike some propeller-badged Germans we could name, Maserati’s Italian parent heeded the catcalls directed at its high tech gearbox. FIAT sourced a ZF six speed fully automatic transmission to cure the problem, subito. So, are we there yet?

Some reviewers hereabouts consider the QP the last word in Euro-slink. I just can’t get past those Buick-like portholes. That said, Maserati’s vaguely sinister corporate symbol adds a welcome touch of glamor to an otherwise pedestrian exterior, and careful customization can dramatically enhance the car’s visual appeal.

To my eye, the ideal recipe combines the Executive GT’s 19” wheels, red brake calipers and chrome mesh portholes with the Sport GT’s front grill (flat black mesh). It’s the best amalgamation of pace and grace since the supercharged Jaguar XJR first whined its way onto the American automotive stage.  

42273_qp-executive-gt_07.jpgI feel silly admitting how much I enjoyed opening the QP’s doors. There are two buttons; one works electronically, the other mechanically. Both operate with with perfect synchronicity and a sound not unlike a hi-tech safe door clicking open.

When I confessed this portal pleasure to my wife, she dismissed the duality as nothing more than Maserati’s engineers realizing the limitations of their dubious mechanical heritage. Even so, this small but endearing quirk helps give the big Maser a sense of occasion.

Once inside, the interior is more expansive than expected; the rear seats are tight in some dimensions, but legroom is not one of them. The middle armrest reveals yet another unexpected delight: a button that glides the passenger seat forward.  

The quality of the QP’s cabin materials is beyond reproach. The lustrous wood, fragrant leather, plush carpet and elegant liners are superior to those found in any German car you can name– unless you cite Bentley, and even then the sumptuousness quotient is virtually identical. As long as you tailor your QP using a dark palette– the light colored interiors approximate a modern bordello– you couldn’t ask for a more luxurious carcoon.

That is, as long as you don’t mind packing light. The QP’s trunk is hardly large enough to fit a weekend’s supply of the wife/girlfriend/mistress' Manolo Blahniks, never mind a full wardrobe.

While the QP’s gauges, HVAC and switchgear are mostly understandable, the controls and toy count seems a generation or so behind the competition. Drivers are Bluetoothless, I-Pod deficient, satellite radio bereft and keyless ignition deprived. At least there isn’t an iDrive, COMAND or MMI to make your life unnecessarily complex.

Even though the QP is nearly 200 inches long, it drives like a vehicle half its size. Its 4.2-liter V8 deploys 400 horsepower and 339 lb. ft. of torque against 4400 pounds of imported metal with considerable success. Any normally aspirated luxury sedan that can sprint from zero to sixty in 5.6 seconds is praiseworthy– although the nine mpg I induced is not.

While the QP’s acceleration is bracing, the aural stimulation emanating from the engine bay is positively hallucinogenic. Even when driving the QP like a stoner, the F-1 soundtrack says Warp 3. The headers are heady stuff indeed; the exhaust note alone is worth the price of admission.

pon60club2222.jpgOnce you’ve punched your ticket, there are no more dynamic regrets. The new automatic transmission has completely transformed the Maserati Quattroporte. There's no more Addams family effect (i.e, Lurch is gone). You can now play the QP’s deeply sonorous powerplant like a symphony conductor, transitioning between sotto voce and multo forte with seamless satisfaction. The QP wafts and blasts with equal aplomb. 

Yes, well, our Executive GT tester’s handling was a mixed bag. The sedan turned in enthusiastically and felt as balanced as the 49-51 weight distribution implied. But the spring rates were too soft. The steering delivered excellent chassis feedback and the cornering attitude was Kansas flat. But there was too much bobble and float to inspire confidence. There is certainly enough compliance in the suspension to argue for the Sport GT’s larger wheels.

57861_ya0g4590_retouch_r.jpgEven so, the QP can now make a compelling case against the Mercedes S550, BMW 750 or Audi A8. One problem: the Maserati’s $140k-ish price pits it against the equally spirited Audi S8, BMW Alpina B7 and Mercedes S600. Among this rarefied company, the QP seems inadequate; the gizmo count is low, the reliability [still] slightly worrying and the Buick portholes dubious.

To make matters worse, the QP’s epic depreciation makes leasing an unattractive option, despite Maserati's valiant effort to prop up residuals. But if you can afford to set such “mundane” matters aside (or simply add the Maserati to your stable and call it buono), the QP is an ideal choice for luxury sedan drivers seeking a more charismatic– and enigmatic– choice.

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Maserati Quattroporte Executive GT Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/08/maserati-quattroporte-executive-gt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/08/maserati-quattroporte-executive-gt/#comments Mon, 14 Aug 2006 12:02:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=2005 qpexecutivegtesterni.jpg Backseat branding is easy. Porsche? Sports cars. Ford? Sedans. Hummer? Assault rifles. Maserati? Who knows? The company likes to promote a philosophical connection to its distinguished racing heritage. But Maserati's competitive heyday ended on May the twelfth 1957, when the Marquis de Portago’s Ferrari somersaulted into the crowd at Guidizillo, triggering a vicious pan-European anti-motor sports backlash. Since then, Maserati has concentrated on making unreliable sports cars and sporting sedans. These days, the resurgent automaker builds Jaguars.

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qpexecutivegtesterni.jpg Backseat branding is easy. Porsche? Sports cars. Ford? Sedans. Hummer? Assault rifles. Maserati? Who knows? The company likes to promote a philosophical connection to its distinguished racing heritage. But Maserati's competitive heyday ended on May the twelfth 1957, when the Marquis de Portago’s Ferrari somersaulted into the crowd at Guidizillo, triggering a vicious pan-European anti-motor sports backlash. Since then, Maserati has concentrated on making unreliable sports cars and sporting sedans. These days, the resurgent automaker builds Jaguars.

Someone should. Decades of over-breeding, in-breeding and cross-breeding have destroyed the British brand’s cachet. The dissolution of Jaguar’s identity has killed US sales, leaving an open space at the top of the luxury market for a prohibitively expensive, drop-dead gorgeous sedan with enough pace and grace to kick your cams all over the place. The Maserati Quattroporte Executive GT will rock you.

Ya think? While the Quattroporte displays all of the visual restraint BMW Designer Chris Bangle’s Bimmers have abandoned, the Maser’s sensuous sheetmetal serves-up a dazzling display of grandiloquent, Italianate style. In other words, the Quattroporte is an Italian babe in an Armani dress. If you prefer your motoring metaphors to swing the other way, the QP’s front end is the most alluring phallic symbol since Jaguar’s E-Type first set tongues wagging (so to speak). No blobular or Dame Edna headlights capping a featureless expanse of hood— just a pair of modest glass apertures sunk into perfectly-formed fender creases. Deliciouso!

quattroporte_exe_gt_16.jpg That said, the portholes are a corny bit of showboating and the rear lights are insipid enough to inspire a “Bring Back the Boomerang Taillights” web site. But the way the QP’s rear flanks kink upwards to meet the scrumptious C-pillar makes up for, well, just about anything. As so it must; the QP’s athletic shape severely truncates trunk space. Uh-oh. Buyers at this price point ($115k) are less likely to pack light than The Metropolitan Opera’s traveling company, and the nose-heavy sedan gets indigestion just looking at a set of Louis Vuitton luggage.

Still, if you’re traveling ‘cross town to watch the fat lady sing, the QP Executive GT is the ultimate glass pumpkin. The Maserati’s cabin is so luxurious in scope, detail, materials and construction my eight-year-old step-daughter asked “Is this an old-fashioned car?” Indeed it is. Maserati’s craftsmen combine four lustrous hard woods, ten fragrant leathers and several satiny metals to create a shrine to old school luxury motoring. From the superbly tailored leather chairs (front and rear) to the sleek color-contrasting Alcantara headliner, the QP sees Audi’s minimalism and raises it an elegance.

interior1.jpgOf course, there are cars of equal sumptuousness depreciating in climate controlled garages. The QP’s trump card: technological integration. Whereas the Continental GT is lousy with confusing, distasteful and undersized buttons (inherited from the VW Phaeton), the Quattroporte’s buttonology is a masterpiece of ergonomic simplicity. Four buttons flank the central screen, which sits above the radio controls, which lives just north of the climate controls. Even better, every button operates a single function. It’s not a perfect solution– the “enter” button for the radio and sat nav is isolated from the display screen– but you won’t find a less intellectually demanding luxury car at any price.

Yes, well, operating the Quattroporte’s paddle shift transmission is a bit of a bother. Even in sport mode (the smoothest option) the F1-style cog swapper fails to deliver crisp, clean changes. And that’s a shame. With near-as-dammit 400hp underfoot and all-areas access to plenty o’ torque, the QP’s V8 does the wafting and blasting luxury car thing con multo brio. The Quattroporte’s DuoSelect gearbox isn’t as annoying as the new M5’s SMG unit (nothing is). But paddle shifting is a needless affectation in a car whose luxury car bias is as obvious as the trident sitting in the middle of the analogue clock in the middle of the dash. [NB: An autobox is on the way.]

040120m.jpg Maserati would like us to view the Quattroporte as a four door Italian sports car that just happens to tip the scales at 4250 lbs. While that’s “only” 111 lbs. heavier than a S550, the Merc’s blessed with Airmatic suspension. Maserati’s electronically controlled Skyhook system is about as appealing as the Australian glam rock band of the same name. Carve a corner on a smooth surface and the QP Exec GT will run with the big dogs: body lean in check, 19” tires death gripping the blacktop. Throw in a bump or three and it’s a pavement surfin’ safari. Even in a straight line in comfort mode, the QP’s ride is over-firm and crashy just like… the Jaguar XJ.

It’s true: the Maserati Quattroporte Executive GT is the best Jaguar Jaguar never built.  The concept may not embody Maserati’s branding philosophy, but to paraphrase John Lennon, sales are what happen when you’re making other plans.

[Maserati provided the vehicle reviewed, taxes, insurance and a tank of gas.] 

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