Maserati Quattroporte V Buying Guide
Used examples of the 2003-2012 fifth generation Quattroporte can be great fun if you know what to look out for
• Project £12,000-15,000 • Good £20,000-25,000 • Concours £25,000-30,000 •
• Most expensive at auction: £36,000 (low-mileage Sport GT S)
Running costs ★★
DIY Friendly ★
The Quattroporte name may have been around since the 1960s but it is the fifth generation models with Ferrari-derived engines and much-improved reliability that finally gave the big Maserati a chance to take the fight to the Germans.
Unlike the generally more mundane powertrains found in the competition, this Quattroporte featured a sonorous 4.2-litre V8 that also did duty in the Ferrari 430, California and 458 (although in significantly different states of tune and utilising a flat-plane crank).
When fitted in the nose of the 2003 Quattroporte, it produced 395bhp and performance was well up to the fastest contemporary German performance saloons. The Duo Select transmission was great when driving at ten tenths but pretty miserable everywhere else. Jerky gearchanges were a major bugbear and in 2007 a conventional automatic transmission was added to the range.
A Sport GT and Executive GT were introduced to expand the range and a mid-life facelift in 2008 saw the welcome addition of a 424bhp 4.7-litre V8 for the S and Sport GT S models.
Continuous refinements over the years make the later cars both ride and handle better than the early models but don’t rule out a good pre-facelift Duo Select model because there are some serious bargains to be had.
Whichever model you decide on, don’t forget that these cars can be expensive to maintain and patchy service histories are sure to cost you down the road.
Your AutoClassics Maserati Quattroporte inspection checklist
Both the 4.2 and 4.7-litre engines are identical save for the capacity difference and have proven to be largely reliable. They like to use a bit of oil and the crankshaft seals and cam covers may allow some oil to seep past the seals but this is normal unless you see a puddle of oil forming beneath the car each morning.
A minor service either annually or every 6,000 miles should keep everything running smoothly, two areas to look out for are the camshaft variators which get noisy when the engine is cold and the air flow meter which can cause the engine to lose its smoothness.
The Duo Select cars have come in for a lot of criticism and they can be frustrating in stop-start driving but most owners adapt to them and they are far better when controlled manually via the paddles.
Clutches have a severely shortened lifespan in predominantly city driving, lasting as little as 20,000 miles. This can be doubled if the car is predominantly used for longer trips.
Replacements are pricey and the remaining life can be checked with diagnostic equipment.
The hydraulic gear selector mechanism can develop faults; if the changes are slurred or slow then it may be on the way out.
The later ZF automatics are smoother shifting and tend not to give any issues. These cars have wet sump lubrication as opposed to the Duo Select’s dry sump system. ZF-equipped cars have blue cam covers while the Duo Select cars have red ones.
Suspension and brakes
All early Quattroportes featured the Skyhook adaptive suspension as standard. This was dropped for the base model from 2009-on and all S and GTS models used fixed rate dampers, which provide a firmer ride.
The complex suspension set-up tends to be pretty trouble-free although it is sensitive to incorrect alignment. Worn bushes will have the car creaking over bumps. Check that the Skyhook adaptive dampers are working correctly as replacements are very expensive.
The brakes and rear tyres wear out with a lot more regularity. This is relatively normal for a heavy and powerful car so check that they still have enough life left in them.
Two recalls regarding the suspension system were carried out, one for the front suspension arm and the other for the rear tie-rod ends. Both should have been rectified under warranty.
The Quattroporte's body was constructed chiefly of steel, with only the bonnet and boot lid made from aluminium. Rust and corrosion should not be evident anywhere, and check for excessive stone-chip damage on the front bumpers, and around the door, bonnet and boot edges for evidence of accident repair work or poorly resprayed panels.
The interior should be in good condition. Facelifted cars in particular were fitted with upmarket materials and finishes that should not show any undue wear.
The central screen can develop issues and electric switches and motors have been known to fail. A specialist can diagnose faults, and this may be worth the effort.
A few recalls affected earlier cars. One was for a possibility of the ABS systems going on the blink when the battery charge ran low and the other for an error that would trigger a door to open at speeds below 6mph due to a potential short circuit of the wiring harness. Another less serious issue was the possibility that the seatbelt warning buzzer would not work.
- 2003: 5th Generation Maserati Quattroporte launched. 395bhp 4.2-litre V8 and paddle shift Duo Select transmission is standard. Adaptive Skyhook suspension fitted to all models.
- 2005: Executive GT model introduced with additional standard features. Sport GT offers updated suspension settings and a sharper Duo Select setup.
- 2007: Traditional ZF-automatic gearbox offered alongside Duo Select versions. Even more focused Sport GTS introduced but without Skyhook suspension option.
- 2008: Range-wide facelift carried out with changes to exterior styling and interior trim. 424bhp 4.7-litre V8 introduced on S and GTS. Base 4.2-litre no longer fitted with Skyhook suspension.
- 2008: UK only Quattroporte Collezione Cento limited edition introduced, available in both 4.2 and 4.7-litre versions. 100 units built.
- 2009: Quattroporte GT S receives power bump to 434bhp.
- 2010: Quattroporte GT S Award Edition introduced, changes centred around unique paint finishes and alloy wheels.
- 2012: Production ends with slightly more than 25,000 units being built.
Despite their less desirable Duo Select transmissions, the vast majority of Quattroportes manufactured were the pre-facelift 4.2-litre models. If you can get accustomed to the gearbox then a well-maintained example can be very enjoyable and they can generally be found for far less than some of the later models.
The post-2007 automatic models are far easier to drive in traffic, and the 4.7-litre engine –which was available from 2008-on – adds a touch more mid-range grunt and has one of the best sounding exhaust notes of any road car, especially in the GT S.
The Collezione Cento and Award Edition GT S may command a premium over standard models but the changes are predominantly cosmetic and you should not be swayed to pay more unless the vehicle is in above average condition.
Each version has its positives but if we must choose then a post-facelift S model offers the best balance of luxury and performance for the money.
|4.2-litre V8 Duo Select|
|4.7-litre V8 Sport GT S|