Derivative is a word that’s not only getting a bad rep in banking circles but also in the automotive world.
But Maserati’s latest derivative of the Quattroporte range – the Quattroporte Sport GT S – is inspiring.
It sits alongside the Quattroporte S and serves as the “focused” Quattroporte – not unlike the recently reviewed 2-door Gran Turismo S, which is a derivative of the Gran Turismo.
But unlike the Gran Turismo S, the Sport GT S does not employ the automated manual transmission known as the MC-Shift.
There must have been heated discussions about which transmission to use in the pumped-up car.
Obviously, the 6-speed automatic won the debate.
This also marks the end of the automated manual transmission option for the 4-door Maserati (the car actually debuted exclusively with such a box in 2003).
Befitting its status, the ZF automatic has been suitably beefed up to match the new car.
It has been programmed to give a slight thump with each gear change – not quite as violent as the MC-Shift’s, though – and even boasts a launch control programme.
Disable the electronic nannies, depress the brake pedal and put the transmission in “Drive”, and the revs will not climb beyond 2500rpm.
Lift off the pedal and the car will leap. Maserati claims the car actually shaves 0.2 second off the 0-100km/h timing to 5.1 seconds, which is quick for a big saloon.
For all its ferocity, the transmission doesn’t lurch and jerk at low speeds.
Maserati knows customers who desire large, sporty limousines will not want the constant foibles associated with the MC-Shift when crawling around traffic.
The Sport GT S differs from the S in minute but significant ways. It has the same eager beaver 4.7-litre V8.
But this has been remapped to produce an additional 10bhp without the engine having to spin any higher (the added horses come in only at the last 500rpm before the limiter kicks in).
As with the Gran Turismo S, pushing the “Sport” button has a very deliberate effect on the exhaust note, which brings an extra tingle when the V8 is stretched to its peak revs.
It’s a sound that sets the Quattroporte Sport GT S apart from all other 4-door sedans.
Not as obvious are the shift paddles, which are longer than those on the S.
They definitely make it easier to effect gear changes, even when turning deep into a corner.
Also unique to the Sport GT S is the electronically controlled dampers with a single-rate spring set, which replaced the Skyhook.
The Quattroporte Sport GT S sits lower (15mm in front and 11mm at the back) than the S.
The spring rates have been bumped up by 30 percent in front and 10 percent behind.
It also rides on extremely lower-profile tyres that wrap 20-inch wheels.
Despite all these and its 1990kg kerb weight, the car manages to string bends with far more fluidity, which is really quite amazing.
Also amazing is the fact that this Pininfarina-designed car has been around since 2003 and has undergone little sheet metal change.
It certainly looks as fresh as it did back then.
Styling differences on the Quattroporte Sport GT S are subtle but effective.
The headlights feature a metallic titanium finish, while the front grille has concave vertical slates as opposed to the convex items on the S.
The wheels are also unique.
Chrome accents on the S have been replaced with a menacing dark satin finish, which extends to the pair of exhaust pipes.
The Quattroporte Sport GT S is up against some formidable machines like the Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG and Audi S8.
While the Goliath-like German suspects overwhelm with their power advantage, this Italian has both the panache and dynamics to possibly pull a David on them.
Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT S
Type V8, 32-valves
Bore x stroke 94mm x 85mm
Compression ratio 11.3:1
Max power 440hp at 7000rpm
Max torque 490Nm at 4750rpm
Power to weight 221.1hp per tonne
Gearbox 6-speed automatic with manual select
Driven wheels Rear
0-100km/h 5.1 seconds
Top speed 285km/h
Consumption 6.4km/L (combined)
Front Double wishbones, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Rear Double wishbones, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Front / Rear Ventilated discs
Type Pirelli P Zero
Size 245/35 R20 (front), 295/30 R20 (rear)
Traction aids ABS, ESP
Kerb weight 1990kg
Turning circle 12.3m
Price incl. COE $500,000 (estimated)
Warranty 3 years/unlimited km
+ Deceptively nimble, fluid handling, so stylish
– Not enough power, no MC-Shift option, not suitable for those who want to be chauffeur-driven
Group Test: 2010 Porsche Panamera 4S vs 2010 Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT S