I am no swimmer. I don't think that's because I have an aversion to water; rather I don't see the point of doing what fish do for a living. It's like squashing their livelihood; so I'd rather be more like a hippopotamus, sitting in the water doing nothing, enjoying what the tiny waves have to offer. But it's been my dream to go deep sea diving and encounter one of the most unpredictable creatures out. The creature in question is the hammer head shark, whose twin (evil or otherwise) lives on land and is called the Maserati Quattroporte GTS.
Trust Italians to come out some lip smackingly good designs, to make people fall in love with them and there's proof to this. In a busy city like Mumbai, no one gives a car a second look; yes, if the exhaust note demands your attention, then the necks twist; but otherwise, Mumbaikars are too busy wondering about trains, work and home, in a loop. But, when the Quattroporte passed through the busy streets, there were stop and stare moments and I even got a few thumbs up for the excellent choice of car. The ultimate compliment came from a person at a toll plaza who said 'ek nambar' roughly translated as 'No. 1' in terms of choice and so with so much fond/fan following, you can't help but fall in love with the Quattroporte. Well, I was in love with it since 2003, when it was first introduced and it was at that point in time, the most handsome looking sedans of the lot.
Look at its side profile and you can see how long it is. At almost 5200mm, the Quattroporte just about fits in the parking lot, but what the Italians have managed to do is make it lighter and it's lost about 100kg of weight, so it's actually lighter than any of its rivals. Maserati has also managed to achieve a 50:50 weight distribution and all this engineering, with a beautiful looking nose and a very intimidating trident logo, up front. The 20-inch wheels are absolutely stunning and you're totally in awe of the car.
The jaw drops further, when you enter the cabin. It's plush and the materials used are of the highest quality and there's no doubt that the cabin is a charmer. It's luxurious - yes; but if you start looking into the details, you figure out that it really is not up-to-date. I say this because it gets steering mounted controls, which are a bit fiddly and then there is the low res touchscreen that makes you feel nostalgic and go back in time, when the words 3G and human machine interface did not exist. The low res screen doesn't really help, when the reverse gear is engaged and the hazy picture is a put off.
Mind you, the car that we are driving made its debut in 2013; so yes, it was up to speed then. The rear seat is a luxurious one and even comparable to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class; yeah it's that good. The only issue though is that you can't operate the entertainment system from where you're seated, which at the end of the day won't matter, because you'll be at the wheel and won't be bothered by what's happening at the back.
Why? Well because under the hood is a Ferrari-built, 3.8-litre V8 and there are 530 horses ready to send power to the rear wheels all thanks to the 8-speed automatic gearbox. There's a choice of driving modes -Sport and ICE (Increased Control And Efficiency), but there's a separate button, which when pressed firms up the dampers and the Skyhook suspension. It's when I started fiddling with the setup, trying to change the settings of the steering, suspension and even the exhaust, I understood that they couldn't be tailored to my preference, which is when I realised how much the Germans have spoilt us.
The obvious thing to do was to put it in the S mode and have some fun. 0-100km/h is done in just 4.7seconds, while the claimed top speed is 307km/h. So does this mammoth move? Well, I have said earlier that it's lighter and it just flies past anything and everything. The 650Nm of torque too comes in handy and ensures that there is no lag and the 8-speed automatic unit from ZF works its magic, by catering to your demand. The stiff suspension on the GTS is not a deal breaker really, as even on smooth roads it stays quite calm and collected and doesn't really make you feel uncomfortable. What is also enjoyable is the old school hydraulic steering rack. It's heavy and there's a decent amount of feedback, when you turn in and out of corners and it's ballistic, mind you, but under all that madness manages to pull off a sophisticated look.
However, just when you're having fun, speed breakers play spoil sport. The Quattroporte gets a ground clearance of just 100mm and though India is no stranger to low slung sports cars, the belly of the GTS manages to scrape. Thus, what turns out to be this car's biggest issue is its ground clearance. Most low slung cars can handle our speed breakers - with care; but the GTS scraped its belly numerous times, despite gentle sideways crawling.
The GTS will set you back a good ₹ 2.2 crores and the one thing that Maserati has to deal with is the dealership network. It's just gotten back into the game, so it's still settling in and with dealerships in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, brand Maserati is looking at a good customer base. Though no one will question your choice of the GTS, you can opt for the diesel Quattroporte, which is cheaper than the GTS by more than a crore and has a better ride height and a softer suspension.
Photos: Pawan Dagia