Every so often I am a little surprised at the realization that we have never discussed a certain car here on Totally That Stupid. Case in point: the 5th generation Maserati Quattroporte. I can still recall vividly the first time I saw one sitting in the forecourt of Ferrari Maserati of Washington. I’d almost given up on car manufacturers ever again selling a production sedan that could elicit the raw feelings of car lust that I used to get in the days before cars were designed by committees and accountants, yet there it was – resplendent in its individuality, voluptuousness, and just a hint of appealing awkwardness. I can’t believe we’ve never featured one! Well, we have now.
Quite by accident, as I was wandering around the interwebs yesterday, I stumbled across this 2008 Quattroporte – in Grigio Touring Metallic paint with Nero leather (I love the Italians!) – in Los Angeles, California for $15,900. I’ll be the first to admit that as I get older I sometimes forget that this is 2020, meaning that this sexy saloon is already 12 years old. That said, having retailed for $115K when new (about $140K in 2020 dollars), it HAS to be at the bottom of its depreciation curve. Additionally, an average of just 4,500 miles per year for a total of just under 53K makes it all the more appealing.
From a styling standpoint, the Quattroporte V has always reminded me of 1980’s Ferrari Pinin – the prettiest sedan that never happened. Similar to the Pinin, the QP features a prominent grille, sloped hood, muscular haunches, sumptuous leather, and a Ferrari motor. Sure, the Pinin had twelve cylinders to the QP’s eight, it also had an asking price in 2012 of $825,000. While you are more likely to encounter other QPs in the carpool drop-off line than the one-off Pinin, they’re still not common. Your next door neighbor probably doesn’t have a Quattroporte, but if he does he’s probably a pretty cool neighbor.
Variants of the Quattroporte’s Ferrari-Maserati F136 motor have seen duty in the Ferrari California, F430, and 458, the Alfa Romeo 8C, as well as Maserati ‘s own Coupe, Spyder, Gran Sport, and Gran Turismo. In the QP the motor’s 4,244 cubic centimetres developed 395 hp and 333 lb-ft of torque. This power translated to 5.2 seconds 0-60mph and a top speed of 165mph. One of the reasons we look for 2008+ Quattroportes is that prior to 2008 they came with the nifty but pain-in-the-rear DuoSelect manumatic that required frequent driver input and attention. It’s not often we celebrate the introduction of a traditional automatic – in this case a ZF 6-speed – but in the absence of a proper manual we are happy with the PRNDL. Paddle shifters do mean that you can play with the gears pretty handily, and there’s no shame in that.
Sometime around the mid-1990s, car manufacturers decided that hard plastic switchgear felt cheap and downgraded a luxury interior. Frankly, so long as the plastic wasn’t shiny and the various switches and button conveyed some sort of positive engagement sensation, I was never of that mindset. Give me the controls of a Mercedes W126 any day. Regardless, designers struggled for years to achieve the right combination of soft plastic, sensory input, and environmental friendliness. This combination of preferred attributes often came at the expense of durability – a problem that was rampant through about 2010. For some reason, you tend to see a lot of it in Italian cars of the day. This example is no exception, but we’ve see worse. There is some wear on the buttons and high touch areas, but perhaps most intriguing is what appears to be black duct tape holding-up the driver’s sun visor. Still, there is a stylish Italian-ness to it all.
Otherwise, Maserati adorned the Quattroporte V with quality leather, Alcantara headliner, and real wood. We are always fans of four place seating, although you could squeeze-in one more friend in the back seat if you absolutely had to. In the higher-line Executive GT models rear seat passengers received massaging, heated seats and tray tables, but even in this “base” car they got a rear sunshade, power windows, their own door lock actuator buttons, a storage cubby with a logo to remind you what brand car you’re riding in, and four air vents for ample circulation. I can’t swear to it, but being an Italian car I’d be willing to wager that is a proper ash tray below the switches.
The Ferrari-Maserati engine has a reputation for being a solid lump, but these cars are not without their foibles. Known Quattroporte V trouble spots are not unexpected, probably the most notable being the complex electronics. Show me another contemporary luxury car without that same hazard. Mechanically, the timing variators can be rattly (sound familiar, VANOS folks?) and tires/brakes tend to wear fairly quickly and expensively. Oil and water leaks can happen, but can also be repaired without requiring you to sell a kidney. DuoSelect cars have a few additional challenges, including clutch packs with a short life expectancy, but unless you’re die hard we’d stick with the ZF.
Even anticipating higher than Camry upkeep costs, I keep coming back to that car pool drop off. As Car Geeks, we all want to drive something that differentiates us from the automotive masses. It’s even better when it goes like stink and you can tell the kids it’s got a Ferrari motor! For fifteen grand, exotic options are extremely limited. Sure, you could get a Mercedes W211 E55 AMG or BMW E39 540i Sport 6-speed in comparable condition for comparable money, but to the average Joe those tend to look like ordinary used cars to those not “in the know”. That’s not a concern with the Quattroporte. Is it less reliable than it’s German counterparts? A quick Google search will tell you that while technicians familiar with Quattroportes may be somewhat more scarce, the list of potential issues sound pretty familiar. Besides, it’s got an OBD-II port, so how hard can it be? I give the Quattroporte V (with automatic) a TTS stamp of approval – but I don’t have any room at my house. You buy it and tell us how it goes.