Maserati Quattroporte Trofeo review: 325kph V8 saloon tested

By topgear, 04 May 2021

OVERVIEW – What is it?

It’s still here, believe it or not, Yep, Maserati still makes its big, bad four-door limousine, though we wouldn’t have blamed you for presuming it’d gone the same way as the Jaguar XJR, wilting against the onslaught of Germany’s luxury saloons.

In fact, this angular-faced Quattroporte (lawd that name still sounds so good, doesn’t it?) has actually been with us since 2013, when it launched to bolster Maserati’s bold plans to become a big volume player in the global posh car market, plundering the booming Chinese thirst for all things European while offering a sensible diesel engine for CO2-conscious European company car elites. This was it. Maserati was about to hit the big time.

Predictably, the whole plot was a glorious failure and Maserati has remained firmly in the niche zone. But that’s probably the way we like it. A Maserati is a wilfully esoteric choice. That’s what makes it so achingly cool.

And now, with its future drawing inexorably into the electrification tractor-beam, the Italian trident is having one last stab at the petrol V8 glory days, before it goes battery-powered.

So, the agricultural diesel is dead and you’ve a choice of two V6 engines, delivering 345bhp in the standard model and 425bhp in the V6 S. And then we come to the main event: the new Quattroporte Trofeo, which we’ll be concentrating on here, if no-one objects. Good. You can spot a Trofeo from the naff red detailing on the side vent motif. Yuck.

This flagship monster is home to a 572bhp twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre V8, driving the rear wheels alone via an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Now, there are AMGs and BMW Ms that have more power, more gears, and more tech, but the simple fact is this: the Quattroporte does 325kph, not 250kph on a limiter.

quattroporte trofeo
quattroporte trofeo

Then there’s the simplicity. No, you can’t tweak your gearshift ferocity. There’s no drift mode. There’s no need for one, because the Trofeo is 100 per cent rear-wheel drive all of the time. There’s no estate version – the closest you’ll get is the Levante Trofeo, the car’s SUV cousin. It feels like… well, a supersaloon from 2013. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s from a simpler time.

While Maserati has attempted to keep the Quattroporte up-to-date with the latest in connectivity and comfort, there’s no escaping the truth that for the £125,000 (RM716k) you’re asked to part with in exchange for a Trofeo, you could buy an awful lot of Mercedes S Class. Or an EQS. You could have the mother of all Teslas, or a very tidy Porsche Panamera Turbo. In short, a lot more power, and tech, and talent.

All of those fine cars have more features, more gadgets, more assistance. More stuff. They’re more than likely a lot more efficient too. Because there are underground coal seam fires that are kinder to the environment than this godfather of Masers.

And yet… there is charm here. There is enormous pace, biddable handling, and generous space. You get to drive around feeling like the henchman for an Italian Bond villain, not the vice-president of procurement for a European chemical corporation.

So, before Maserati closes the book on this chapter of a Quattroporte story that stretches back to 1963, give it your consideration one last time.

DRIVING – What is it like on the road?

The Trofeo accelerates in the opposite way to an electric car. Clog it from a standing start and it basically dawdles about wiggling its hips while the Roman Empire-era traction control and gearbox engage in a heated argument. Eventually you skitter up to about 145kph, at which point the rear tyres suddenly find the traction to match the torque, whereupon you positively explode into the next county. Off the line? Bit of a handful. For overtakes, it’s a complete weapon.

Especially as they’ll never hear you coming. Tragically, Maserati’s V8 ‘ciao’ has been WLTP-filtered into near silence: the operatic raucousness of the old GTS engine is no more, and there’s no piped-in hi-fi auto tune either. So, you must content yourself with marvelling at how this two-tonne gondola goes around corners.

In the Sport mode, it’s spectacularly agile for something so long, but the pay-off is ride comfort less Trofeo, more wooden spoon. Soften things off with a prod of the damper button and the Trofeo becomes a bit of a waterbed at speed, but still isn’t compliant enough in town. It feels like the wheels haven’t quite been balanced properly, struggling to settle, egging you on to hurry up, gesturing in your face impatiently.

While there are modes to flick between, it’s not a car defined by them. The car defaults into Normal. There’s an eco-ish setting labelled ‘ICE’ or Increase Control and Efficiency, which sends the throttle response to sleep.

Pushing the Sport button does the opposite, and holding it down activates Corsa mode, which turns off all of the traction and stability control. Yikes.

Frankly, even when it’s switched on the rear axle can barely contain all 729 Nm. Got a steep driveway? Regularly pull out of uphill T-junctions? Good luck.

Still, this is a much more exuberant, driver-focused bit of kit than a Bentley Flying Spur V8 or an Audi S8. And that means it’s not as relaxing as those cars either. If you want a limousine that’s selfishly all about the driver, and you’re happy to roll up your designer sleeves and teach the Quattroporte some manners when it gets wayward, look no further.

ON THE INSIDE – Layout, finish and space

Obviously, being an eight-and-a-half year-old car, the Quattroporte’s interior is as off the pace as an asthmatic Tough Mudder smoking a cigar.

Oh, it’s enormously roomy in the back, and the lashings of glossy carbon fibre trim scream intent, but up front the stalks, mirror buttons and window switches all look and feel like they’ve been borrowed from your last Spanish holiday hire hatchback.

There’s nowhere to slot the enormous key so you’ll have awkward questions asked about the lump in your pocket and trying to extract your phone from the wireless charging void is like attempting to retrieve your debit card from a jammed-up ATM. For this, you’re asked to part with £125,000 (RM716k), remember.

This isn’t an especially memorable cockpit, but the dials (physical, with a screen betwixt them) are clear and refreshingly easy to read – far better than BMW’s latest efforts – and the steering wheel isn’t festooned with more buttons than your nan’s cardigan. The visibility is really rather laudable.

And because the Quattroporte is from that distant pre-Brexit, pre-Trump, pre-Covid world, it doesn’t come as standard with the annoying features now sullying cars by law. Lane-keep assistance doesn’t default to ‘on’, and doesn’t wrest the wheel from your grip if you dare to overtake a cyclist.

Yes, there are idiosyncrasies. The boot release is on the ceiling. The touchscreen is obviously configured for left-hand drive, so in the UK you’ll have to ask your passenger to turn on your heated steering wheel for you. You sit too high and the pedals are more offset than Owen Wilson’s nose.

The touchscreen works capably with your lost smartphone (though the native home screen and interface is very fiddly) and you get a posh clock that’s tricky to read. Happily, you’ve got so much potency under your right foot it’s highly unlikely you’ll be running late. And if you are most people will presume you’re on a diplomatic mission for the Italian government.

quattroporte trofeo
quattroporte trofeo

OWNING  Running costs and reliability

Maserati’s official claim for the Trofeo is that it’s good for up to 12.3l/100km. We found that 21.7l/100km was more on the money. Claimed range barely exceeded 320 kilometres from a tank. Nice of Maserati to prep its owners for range anxiety early.

And with CO2 emissions of 282g/km, you’ll have a tax bill bigger than Amazon, with few excuses not to cough up.

Apparently you get a three-year servicing plan on a new Quattroporte in the UK, which is transferable between owners. Unhappily, this doesn’t apply to the V8 – only the V6s. Perhaps Maserati presumes if you can afford the Trofeo, you can afford whatever work it might require. And that you’ll pay cash. In a briefcase.

However, with a little Top Gear maths, it might appear the Quattroporte Trofeo is, even at £125,010 (RM716k), a bit of a bargain. It’s £30,000 (RM172k) cheaper than the Bentley Flying Spur V8, and £10k (RM57k) less than a Porsche Panamera Turbo S, which is admittedly a lot more powerful.

Ah. We’ve just remembered the Audi S8 has pretty much the same power as the Maser and costs less than a hundred grand. Still, it looks like a big A4 inside and out. Can you put a price on this much presence?


VERDICT – Final thoughts and pick of the range

"An ageing but suave Italian limo that's the nearest thing you can get to a four-door Ferrari"

Far from the most complete ultra-saloon you can buy, then. Obscenely cool, though. There’s a brooding menace about any big Maserati, and one that’s about to have its V8 knackers neutered is even more liable to have your arm off.

If you can live with the curiously pimply ride, the cabin’s quirks and fancy bolting a more raucous set of pipes to the back, this is a car that’ll soon define the old adage ‘they don’t make ‘em like they used to’.


Overall Verdict: 7/10