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Style over Substance: The 2017 Maserati Quattroporte



For some people with money, it’s not enough to have a car that oozes with class, that offers unmitigated comfort, and that can go like a bat out of hell. It has to have that brand reputation for uniqueness that by extension makes the owner special as well. That’s the essence of the appeal generated by the 2017 Maserati Quattroporte. The current generation has become an embarrassment of late, and finally Maserati has come to correct its mistakes by updating the latest model.

It’s not that the Maserati car company needs to make changes to make money. In fact, Maserati is doing quite well, with sales soaring in recent years. It does seem ironic that the company has achieved this global success by focusing on luxury sedans and even on SUVs, which would have been a heretical concept not too long ago. Meanwhile, brands such as Acura and Lexus have made a buzz with their engaging sports coupes, which is supposed to be Maserati territory.

What’s Wrong with the Current Quattroporte?

The Quattroporte wasn’t exactly heaped with praise when this current generation came out in 2013. It seemed like Maserati relied too much on the appeal of its sexy brand name, and didn’t do enough to justify that reputation. It certainly didn’t seem to work all that hard to justify its 6-digit price tag as well.

Maserati marketing officials continue to assert that their customers are car enthusiasts who want something more distinctive than the usual offerings from Germany. That’s certainly one way to describe the Quattroporte. But in many important ways, it was worse than the Teutonic cars. The technology it offered inside simply didn’t match the superiority of the Mercedes and BMW vehicles. One notable mistake was that its only active-safety features were cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring. Those two features just couldn’t hold a candle to the high tech seen in the BMW 7-series and the Mercedes Benz S-class.

What’s worse was that the vaunted exclusivity implied in owning a Maserati didn’t quite hold up. It featured too many generic parts from Fiat Chrysler, and that was a cardinal sin for many of the customers. What’s the point of getting a Maserati when it’s made from Chrysler parts? While this is a common practice (Lexus uses parts from cheaper Toyotas, for example), a Maserati is supposed to be special!

The Changes in the Latest Quattroporte

It must gall Maserati designers that jokes are being made about their “Chryslerati” cars. So is the 2017 version any different? In some ways, it is.

The most obvious change is with the look. The grille is now concave instead of convex, it has some extra chrome trim, the bumpers have been reshaped, and all these changes supposedly reduce the aerodynamic drag by 10%.

·         The Maserati Touch Control Plus now offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

·         The buttons for climate control have been modified so they’re now organized more logically.

·         The center console has been redesigned so that finally you have a storage compartment that can fit in your smartphone.

·         At last, you also get lane-departing warning, active cruise control, and forward collision warning plus automated emergency braking.

But if you look closely, and you’ll notice that too many of the interior pieces come from bargain basement models. You see that rod that turns on your windshield wiper and turn signal? That comes from a Jeep Cherokee.

If you own this Maserati and then you go on vacation and rent other Fiat Chrysler vehicles, you’ll still notice many familiar parts. The starter button, the window switches, the control knob for the headlight, and the instrument-cluster display screen—all these are still generic Fiat Chrysler parts. The quality of these pieces just won’t do when you put them in German luxury car from BMW, Mercedes Benz, or Audi. In a Maserati that costs a whole lot more, it’s simply heretical.

Final Verdict

As car fans, we continue to hope that the folks at Maserati get their act together, so that the Chryslerati jokes can finally die out. What they need to understand is that they’ve become too reliant on the brand reputation of the Maserati name. It’s true that when you’re asked what kind of car you drive, answering “a Maserati” is more impressive and more gratifying than saying “a Mercedes Benz” or “a BMW”, or even “a Porsche”. But that kind of reputation won’t last forever.

So it’s time for Maserati to stop relying on the badge, an impressive exhaust note, and impressive leather. They need new tech, and it has to be better than what you can get from a Chrysler or a Dodge. And if they do their jobs right, they can finally earn the right to challenge the Germans in terms of luxury, tech, and performance.

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