Maserati's Quattroporte saloon first debuted back in 2004 as a concept before going on sale as an almost identical production version later that same year. Initial tests of the car led to one common criticism – the lack of an authentic automatic transmission. Its electronic-actuated Duoselect manual gearbox was derived from the same unit used by Ferrari, a design based on the automated manual gearbox used in its Formula One race cars. The logical decision would have been to use it in a sports car and not a flagship saloon like the Quattroporte. That’s not to say that the Quattroporte is a car devoid of a sporting nature, just that the violent and abrupt shifts of the Duoselect are simply not suitable for a premium executive saloon.
Now, three years after the release of the original, the Modenese marque has finally filled the gap and introduced a new automatic gearbox, a six-speed unit from ZF to be sold alongside the Duoselect version. With the introduction of the German sourced gearbox, the Quattroporte’s leap ahead in terms of comfort and smoothness only improves the car’s strong points and gives it better traction in the land of prestigious flagship cars that cost well over six figures. Styling and interior
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The only tangible difference between the new Automatic version and the Duoselect is the new gear level mounted on the center console. The rest of the car remains virtually untouched, still exuberating desirability and maintaining a muscular stance. Our test model was decked in an expensive pearl white finish perfectly conserving the cars mix of elegance and athleticism. It also came with optional light-alloy 19in wheels. The interior, as usual, is dominated by leather for the seats, armrests and door linings, with polished wood used for the trim inserts. Keeping up with its German rivals, the Quattroporte also comes with an extensive options list with no less than nine different color options for the interior and five different types of wood for the trim, plus carbon-fiber for GT spec models. Technical
Mechanically the only point of difference is the new automatic gearbox, but its inclusion has allowed Maserati to improve other aspects of the car such as weight distribution and performance. Unlike the Duoselect unit, which is lodged on the rear axle, the new ZF six-speeder is mounted directly to the engine block. In this position, weight distribution improves with a near ideal 49-51% split front to back versus the 47-53% of the Duoselect.
Beyond its totally automatic function, the gearbox also features a manual mode that allows you to shift gears via the lever or optional paddle shifters. Activating sports mode gives you access to the V8 engine’s entire rev-range and the adaptive six-speed gearbox will downshift early and happily rev to the redline. At the same time, the electronically adjusted Skyhook suspension system firms up and the throttle becomes a little more responsive.
The V8 is still the familiar 4.2L mill constructed by the Ferrari boys down the road in Maranello. Max power remains at 393hp at 7,000rpm, but a series of improvements has allowed the engine to obtain a more responsive nature lower in the rev range as is evidenced by the increase in peak torque from 450Nm to 460Nm at a lower 4,250rpm than the previous 4,500rpm level. These improvements have been brought about from a redesign of the induction manifold, intake camshaft and engine pistons.On the road