2020 Maserati Quattroporte review

Maserati's biggest sedan is quiet, comfortable and… that's about it, really.

Alfa Romeo and Maserati are two different Italian brands in the larger Fiat Chrysler fiefdom. Alfa feels like its own automaker, with evocative styling and parts you'd be hard-pressed to see anywhere outside another Alfa Romeo. Maserati, on the other hand, is more of a corporate luxury brand, borrowing more from its family in pursuit of creating smooth, comfortable cars. In that sense, the 2020 Quattroporte follows through with its intentions, though I can't help but wonder if the ol' trident is double-dipping too many of its chips.

(Almost) all in the family

When Maserati had one sedan, it was easy to figure out which it was -- it was that one. Now there are two, though, and it's surprisingly hard to tell the Quattroporte and Ghibli apart. Perhaps that's just a sign of the times, considering I havethe exact same issue trying to figure out whether a blur on the highway was an S-Class or an E-Class, a 7 Series or a 5. But while its Teutonic competition has kept things staid in recent memory, Maserati's styling is at least distinct. The front grille's odd cut and small opening remind me of the QPs of yore, while curves and cut lines abound from the headlight to the trunk lid, although some of it gets lost in my tester's base white paint, as delightful and pearlescent as it is.

If the exterior does its best to stand out, the interior plays it closer to the chest. This Quattroporte SQ4 is the GranLusso variant, which ratchets up the luxury to focus on plushness, unlike the sportier-looking GranSport. There's a whole lot to like in here, whether it's the matte wood with its tactile grain or the leather that's just about as soft as I've felt in a sub-$250,000 car. It all intermingles on a nice, if simply designed, dashboard. The real visual effort comes through in the door panels and seats, where there are plenty of neat stitching and more high-quality materials. A massive center console splits the car in two through to the back (a $4,000 option), leaving four individual seats that offer plenty of space to get comfortable, and the power-reclining rear buckets in my tester make this car feel equally nice for drivers and driven alike.

2020 Maserati Quattroporte looks as plush as it rides

I can tell the Quattroporte will go over well with the Sierra Club sort because the interior is filled with recycled materials. The window switches are lightly chromed versions of what you find in the Jeep Cherokee. The wheel's volume and channel controls are located on the back and feel exactly like the ones in every other FCA product. The protuberant headlight controls can be found by searching "2019 Dodge Charger interior" on Google. If this were any other FCA product, I'd be more inclined to forgive it, but this Quattroporte SQ4 GranLusso starts at $115,685 including destination. Any more bits from the late, great Sergio Marchionne in here and you may as well call it the Chrysler 900.

Despite a body the size of a naval warship, there isn't a lot of space to put stuff in the QP. The door pockets have tall sides, so you can't fit a large water bottle in there -- or anywhere in the interior, thanks to the small, fixed-size cup holders in both rows. There's a slot for your phone ahead of the shifter, which you can't access with the front cup holder full. The center console armrest may as well stay shut forever, because the underlying cubby is shallow and won't accommodate items thicker than a couple inches. The back row's center console storage is much more voluminous, which doesn't do the driver much good.

A mixed bag on the road

I can assume Maserati wants me and all owners to give the Quattroporte SQ4 the ol' what-for on the road, since it's loaded with adjustable vehicle modes, adaptive suspension and a plucky turbocharged V6. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and the Quattroporte doesn't captivate me because it rides a weird line between sport and sedate.

The car's baked-in luxury isn't hard to suss out. In its default Normal mode, the adaptive suspension offers plenty of damping, soaking up most of Michigan's nastiness. But the chassis was clearly designed with sporting pretensions in mind, its rigidity acting as a counterbalance to the plushness, a problem that air suspension -- available on competitors, but not the QP -- would help mitigate. Normal mode also features a throttle so softly tuned that smooth stops and starts are dead simple and repeatable, but it requires a surprising amount of push to elicit appreciable forward motion.

Most of the time, I leave the Quattroporte SQ4 in Sport mode, which tightens throttle response, holds gears longer and opens up a flap in the exhaust. It's far more capable of responding to pedal adjustments here, letting the 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 make the most of its 424 horsepower and 428 pound-feet of torque. Thrust abounds across the tachometer's sweep, and the eight-speed automatic transmission always seems to know the right gear to be in, even though it chooses to ignore eighth gear at all costs in Sport, even on the highway.

Changing the suspension to Sport all but eliminates body roll, but I wouldn't call the ride comfortable. And considering there's no way on Earth to mask this car's mass, it's not exactly rewarding to hustle on backroads. The active exhaust, to my ear, only seems to make the car louder after a cold start and during upshifts. Otherwise, those dulcet tones blend into the ether, which is kind of a letdown. I think it's better for the folks on the sidewalk.

I appreciate that Maserati offers all-wheel drive on the Quattroporte, but I wish it were better. It's great that the SQ4 trim tends to keep all that power heading rearward, engaging the front half when grip is requested, but I can feel binding within the AWD system at lower speeds, especially when leaving my neighborhood and heading onto a faster road. It doesn't exactly build confidence, nor do I think it's indicative of how a six-figure sedan should operate.

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