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2021 Maserati Quattroporte Trofeo Needs to Be Weirder

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 2/19/2021 John Pearley Huffman
a car parked on the side of a road: Maserati's conventional approach to its big Quattroporte sedan, even in the new 580-hp Trofeo trim, leaves us wanting. © Maserati Maserati's conventional approach to its big Quattroporte sedan, even in the new 580-hp Trofeo trim, leaves us wanting.

The 2021 Maserati Quattroporte Trofeo isn't weird enough. It ought to be louder than a hyperactive calliope, styled using Dadaesque chaos theory, and have an interior designed for a lobster. The Quattroporte should be for lunatics, not people who just want a Lexus with garlic butter. Yes, the Quattroporte is Italian. But it needs to be really, really, deeply Italian. Like stupidly, insanely Italian.

The Trofeo is the high-performance version of the Quattroporte and sits in Maserati's line alongside the smaller Ghibli Trofeo sedan and the Levante Trofeo SUV. At $148,085 to start, the 580-hp, twin-turbo V-8-powered Trofeo is at the top of three-model Quattroporte line. That's two steps above the 424-horsepower, twin-turbo V-6 powered, rear-drive S model, and one step up from the $108,685 S Q4, which is the S but with all-wheel drive. The Trofeo is rear-drive only, making this the big, powerful, luxury four-door to buy if lurid burnouts are part of your commute.

Keep in mind that the impressions reported here come from limited exposure to proctored laps run around Southern California's Willow Springs International Raceway. More exposure to the Quattroporte Trofeo on actual streets is pending.

The Quattroporte name, Italian for four-door, goes back to 1963. The first Quattroporte was a zany looking, Frua-designed model that seemed untethered to convention or reason. The first Maserati with a V-8, it seemed to be cross-eyed and going six directions at once. Only 776 were built.

a car parked on the side of a road: Maserati Quattroporte Trofeo © Maserati Maserati Quattroporte Trofeo

The second Quattroporte was a V-6-powered front-driver that shared its chassis with the Citroen SM and had an awkward and angular body from Bertone. The third generation reverted to rear drive and V-8 with a Giugiaro body. The fourth Quattroporte resorted to a sort of brutalist battleship design ethos. Imposing and massive, a case could be made that its famed supercar designer Marcello Gandini's least beautiful design. The Pininfarina-designed fifth-gen returned some of the elegance of the early generations. The in-house design of the current Quattroporte debuted in 2013 as a 2014 model and is the least adventurous of the bunch.

While it may be the least adventurous, it's the fastest of the predecessors. The 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-8 isn't new, having been offered in the current Quattroporte since 2014. The engine is a version of the V-8 Ferrari installs in all the current Ferrari models. But while the current Ferrari versions displace 3.9 liters and use a flat-plane crank, the trident's version has a shorter stroke and a traditional cross-plane crank. Yes, 580 horsepower is a lot of whinny, but the Maserati engine doesn't have the same rev-happy personality of the Ferrari powerplants nor does it have the same brilliant contralto staccato voice. It feels, in a word, compromised.

a car parked in a parking lot: Maserati Quattroporte Trofeo © Maserati Maserati Quattroporte Trofeo

Feeding back to ZF's ubiquitous eight-speed automatic transmission, the Quattroporte Trofeo's engine lacks the initial gut punch that comes from engines such as the twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8s found in Audi's S8, BMW's latest M8 Gran Coupe, and the Mercedes-AMG S63. In the roughly 4750-pound Quattroporte, the acceleration lacks the stomach-flipping punch of the German offerings. Maserati claims a 4.2-second zero-to-to-mph mph time, but considering the 523-hp Quattroporte GTS we tested in 2015 did the deed in 4.1 seconds, the Trofeo should break into the high 3s.

As one of the few high-powered sedans that hasn't yet adopted all-wheel drive, it's easy to break the rear tires free under acceleration. At least it is when the drive mode is set in Corsa, which dials back the strictness of the traction- and stability-control systems. Corsa is also the correct setting for using launch control. Since this is a conventional automatic, you're essentially brake torqueing—holding the brakes to raise the engine's revs to the torque converter's stall point—and not engaging the high-rpm clutch dump of a dual-clutch automatic. As it takes off from a stop, the Quattroporte wags its tail before biting and thrusting forward.

a motorcycle is parked on the side of a building: 2021 Maserati Quattroporte Trofeo © Maserati 2021 Maserati Quattroporte Trofeo

Maserati has updated all Quattroporte interiors for 2021 with a new 10.1-inch center screen and tweaked the rest with nice use of wood and well-shaped seats. And with its long 124.8-inch wheelbase, there's a lot of room in front and back.

On track, the big sedan turns in accurately and the handling is secure. It hustles around Willow Springs quite well considering its mission is primarily about luxury and not being a track star. Even so, if you're into carving a canyon road in your big sedan, there are better choices.

Maserati would posit that it doesn't need to be everything to all customers. BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi can fight for the mass market. What Maserati needs to do is reorient itself for the connoisseur of the absurd, for the iconoclasts of the automotive world. The Quattroporte Trofeo is a quick luxury car, but it lacks presence, it lacks flair, it lacks the uniqueness and even goofiness of its forebears. Standing out is what a Maserati should do, the Quattroporte blends in too easily and never excites the senses. Maserati, it's time to get weird.

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