It may seem like the quintessential Italian big saloon car, but this new Quattroporte (sounds sexy, but in Italian it simply means "four door") has been redesigned primarily for China.
You see the old car, svelte though it was, was a little cramped in the back seat. And while a new generation of rich Chinese customers is growing fond of driving themselves, back seat space is highly prized because comfort and space show respect to the clients and family you’re likely to have sitting back there.
So if you’re looking at the new Quattroporte and thinking it looks bigger, you’d be right. It’s grown quite a lot - to a UK parking space-challenging length of over 5 metres, most of which has been added into the wheelbase to increase rear legroom.
But there’s now space for two 6ft 2inch blokes to sit behind two 6ft 2inch blokes, which should make it much more popular with thick-set blokes who live in southern Italy and wear black suits and perhaps have an aversion to paying tax.
From our perspective though, the design changes are a bit of a shame because it;s not done wonders for the Quattroporte’s previously gorgeous looks. We still think it looks cool, still like a Maserati, but it’s just slightly less pretty and a bit more dumpy than before. Like an Italian supermodel gone slightly to seed.
It still looks like a Maserati though, especially at the front with that pouting-lips grille surrounding the trident badge.
Inside, they’ve really upped their game - so choose from seven different core trim combos - we especially liked the dark, matte finish wood you can see in our pictures, which is cut across the section to reveal the grain. And why can’t all companies use leather that feels and smells as nice as this Maserati’s? Even the door handles are elegant little wands of chrome. So if we’re going to have sit in a car crossing a continent anytime soon, can we do it in one of these please?
Thankfully, part of the new design upgrade is the incorporation of a new infotainment system (the old one was more than a little on the decrepit side), complete with 8-inch touchscreen running off the same architecture as Chrysler’s new U-connect system.
U-Connect won best in-car platform at last week’s CES so things bode well and we’re assured that it looks different from the Chrysler’s, having been skinned and reformatted with a Maserati bespoke menu system. However, we can’t tell you what it’s actually like, because in an amusing turn of events, apparently someone in Italy shipped the wrong power inverters to Detroit, so the cars couldn’t be powered up...
Still, it’s one of those cars which you're likely to be bothered about being seen in first, driving second and the tech content third. And the second of those points looks promising, as the Maserati gets two new, Ferrari-derived turbo engines: a V6 for if you’re in the bizarre position of being able to afford a Maserati but wanting to watch the fuel pennies, and a 523 horsepower V8 which is the sort of power to make sure your autobahn runs will be nothing other than speedy.
On sale in the UK in June, the new Quattroporte should cost from around £80,000, but call it a neat, round £100k once you’ve done the right thing and plumped for that V8 and trimmed it out properly. It might not look quite as pretty as before, but we’re still smitten enough to start saving our pennies now.