In the United States, the luxury-vehicle buyer is blessed with an embarrassment of riches. Walk through the parking lot of your favorite galleria or country club and you will find marques from every corner of the globe. Each has its own appeal and admirers, but for those who want a unique driving experience, nothing delivers like an Italian luxury automobile. And nothing Italian delivers like Maserati.
The Maserati brand may be new to some, but the automotive cognoscenti know that the company’s history goes back more than 100 years to a small engineering shop in Bologna, Italy that modified and improved the performance of customer cars. A dozen years later, the founder established the car company we know today as Maserati.
From the beginning, the engineering expertise built into the cars has enabled them to win many races and championships, including the Indianapolis 500 in 1939 and 1940. Delivering the driver—on the race track or on the street—an automobile with power and handling has been in the company’s DNA since 1914 when foun der Alfieri Maserati first turned a wrench.
Today, Maserati is an important part of the FIAT (FCA) group and sells cars in 70 countries worldwide, setting new sales records in practically every quarter. That’s because their product range touches all of the key luxury and performance car buyers’ hot but- tons. From Grand Touring personal vehicles to four-door family sedans, from sporty convertibles to all-wheel-drive SUVs and sedans, Maserati has unique and enticing models.
The brand’s flagship is the newly redesigned Quattroporte (Italian for four doors) sedan. Available in three trim levels—S (turbo V6 powered), S Q4 (turbo V6 powered with all wheel drive) and GTS (turbo V8 powered), these sedans combine five-second or better 0-60 times with sumptuous luxury and sports-sedan performance. For 2017, Quattroporte S and S Q4 buyers can individualize their Maseratis with one of two optional trim levels: GranLusso and GranSport. Each is presented as an added cost option. For the GTS buyer, either can be ordered at no additional charge.
For the more luxury-oriented driver, the GranLusso features exterior styling cues that set the car apart from other Maseratis. On the inside, an Ermenegildo Zegna–designed interior with the world’s only silk and leather seats brings unmatched luxury and refinement to every surface.
For the GranSport buyer, aggressive bumper styling is part of the exterior appointments along with performance-oriented 21-inch alloy rims and tires. Inside, special sports seats hug the driver securely in tight curves and shifting is done through special sport-oriented Formula One style paddles. To take the sports car theme to the next level, a “carbon fiber” package—straight from the racetracks to your garage—can be added as well.
Squint and you’ll see a lot of the flagship Quattroporte in the Ghibli. That’s not by accident. The designers started with the big brother and applied the tried-and-true formula learned in racing to improve performance: add lightness.
To that end, the Ghibli’s wheelbase is about 7 inches shorter than the Quattroporte’s. Its overall length was cut by 12 inches. These changes took off one hundred pounds from its sibling and set the front/rear weight distribution to 50/50. In the Ghibli, these changes improved upon the Quattroporte’s already fun-to-drive qualities.
While the Maserati name is associated with driving excitement, the Ghibli, thanks to its special chassis, is considered a true driver’s car. The Ghibli’s body and underbody design boast a low drag coefficient of 0.31. This results in a reduction in fuel consumption and, more important to the performance driver, improved stability at highway speeds.
Completing the 2017 Maserati lineup are a pair of two-door personal luxury cars. On the Continent, only the most sophisticated automobiles are badged Grand Touring. These cars allow the driver and perhaps one special guest to safely and comfortably cover miles and miles of challenging roads at a brisk pace, arriving at their destination refreshed. That’s the design philosophy behind the Maserati GranTurismo. Available in coupe and convertible layouts, each is powered by a turbocharged V8 that’s as comfortable on the racetrack as it is on the Autostrada. In fact, the GranTurismo models are used in the Maserati Master Driving programs: a racetrack- oriented high-speed driving school.
Love luxury, style and performance but have a need for the convenience and utility of an SUV? The Maserati Levante may be your ideal choice. Quoting from the Geneva Auto Show press release: “The name Levante was inspired by a warm Mediterranean wind that can change from mild to gale force in an instant, mirroring the character of the first Maserati SUV.” While that may sound like so much ad speak, the performance figures dispel thoughts of hyperbole. Power for the Levante S is a stunning 450-hp delivering 0-60 numbers of a tick over 5 seconds! The base Levante clocks in at 350-hp with a very respectable 6-second sprint to 60. The Levante Diesel makes the same trip, powered by a 275-hp V6, in about 7 seconds.
Each of the three option levels—Levante, Levante Diesel and Levante S—combine three elements Maserati believes are necessary to succeed in the SUV market: design, exclusivity and performance. Maserati is confident its offerings represent the optimum blend of these elements.
So the power under the hood takes care of the “S” in the SUV equation. How about the “U” for utility? The Levante has that covered as well. The Levante is the longest vehicle in its segment; the wheelbase is 2.5 to 4 inches longer than those of its major competitors. Maserati boasts that the Levante is one of the roomiest in its class and the sportiest and most elegant design in the luxury SUV segment.
For the skier, beachgoer and even the off-road driving enthusiast, the Levante’s Maserati Q4 All-Wheel Drive system comes as standard in all versions. It is based on an electronically controlled, multiplate wet clutch, installed into a transfer case linked by a driveshaft to the front axle. While all that may sound like car geek-speak, in practice the Q4 AWD system delivers a typical Maserati rear-wheel drive experience, even in low-grip road conditions. In slippery or low- grip situations (e.g., rain, mud, dirt, snow), it transfers traction to the front wheels with an immediate response and no intervention by the driver.
Under normal driving conditions, the system sends 100% of the engine torque to the rear wheels. On slippery or loose road surfaces or in case of loss of traction at the rear, for extreme acceleration or very hard cornering, the system reacts instantaneously, transferring the necessary torque to the front wheels. In a matter of 150 milliseconds, the Q4 system can alter the torque split from 100% at the rear wheels to 50%/50%, front/rear. Even though all of this remarkable technology is happening without driver input, the activity of the system can be monitored in real time from the 7” cluster display. This system is more than an engineering exercise. Maserati’s objective is to ensure driving pleasure and absolute safety at the same time.
SALES AND SERVICE – No matter how well engineered an automobile may be, it will require factory-authorized service performed by highly trained technicians. Fortunately, Chicago-area Maserati owners have Joe Perillo Gold Coast Exotic Imports for sales and Perillo Discount Service Center service.
Maserati is the epitome of Italian style, luxury and performance. If that’s what you’re looking for in your next vehicle, these fine automobiles are definitely worth a look.