The great Italian marque has turned out a slick and economical luxury limo. It’s so good you could almost get suspicious…
Top speed: 190mph
0-62mph: 4.7 seconds
“This is the coolest job in the world,” laughs David Millar. He’s speaking about his role as the newly appointed cycling ambassador for Maserati, which is also the title sponsor of the Tour de Yorkshire, now in its second year. You might think there is little crossover between an expensive Italian sports car and a tough bike race over the moors, but the mutual benefits are great. Cycling is now a sport whichattracts wealthy people who see their bikes as essential lifestyle accessories rather than proletarian modes of transport. They fetishise their frames and fret over having the very the latest kit and the smartest technology. These consumers are brand-literate hedonists with deep pockets – no wonder car makers are falling over themselves to align themselves with cyclists.
In many ways David Millar is the perfect fit for Maserati. Both are good looking, lightning quick and move with a classy swagger. Both are also going through a period of reinvention: Millar was a disgraced former pro racer who is now a TV pundit and vociferous anti-doping campaigner; Maserati was a builder of expensive, overwrought and fairly unreliable sports cars which is now… well, the change is truly remarkable.
The Quattroporte (“four door” – everything sounds sexier in Italian) is the closest you can reasonably get to driving a Ferrari with rear seats and a big boot. This latest, all-new model is now more than 5m long and far bigger than the outgoing one. This is part of Maserati’s bid to reposition itself as a luxury limo as opposed to a sports car with some space in the back. The brand is also keen to stress its affordability. For most of us Maserati equals money. But they are possibly cheaper than you might expect. Peter Denton, a keen cyclist himself, is the firm’s North European manager, and he says he wants people to think of Maseratis as “£70k propositions as opposed to £100k propositions”. Production is also planned to swell from 6,000 to 75,000 units a year by the end of 2018. That seems, frankly, incredible, but you’ve got to dream big in this game. And with more affordable, less elitist and cheaper-to-run cars, Maserati may well have a chance.
These claims are all relative, of course – the price is high for all but the seriously rich. But this fifth-gen model is the first Maserati ever to get a diesel engine – a 3-litre twin turbo V6 which will do 45.6 miles to the gallon. I drove the big beast up to Scarborough and back – more than 500 miles in a weekend – and averaged 42.3mpg, the closest real-world figure I think I have ever had. Maybe we should believe everything else Maserati is telling us.
The car, despite being bigger, is lighter than previously. It feels insanely powerful and exudes an aura of real potency. The gearbox is an 8-speed ZF auto which makes it slick and responsive. And it’s no slouch either – the car has a top speed of 190mph and a 0-62mph of 4.7 seconds. The only problem I can see is who is going to bother riding their bike after driving this?