MASERATI QUATTROPORTE

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MASERATI QUATTROPORTE
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As such, buying the Maserati over a Porsche Panamera or BMW 6-series Gran Coupe, or even an Aston Martin Rapide, has been a decision of the heart rather than one of the head.

It should be noted, though, that the current, sixth-generation Quattroporte, launched in 2013, is the most successful version to date, in terms of sales, with a burgeoning customer base in the Middle East and China, where quality, status and comfort are more important considerations than handling, efficiency or residual value.

The good news is that the Mk6 Quattroporte has been generally well received in the UK, too. Curiously, one of the things that has worked in its favour over here has come about as a result of a criticism; Maserati seems to be one step behind the competition technically, which meant that while rivals introduced fancy-pants electronic driver aids and electric steering, the Quattroporte stuck with relatively unsophisticated safety systems and hydraulic steering, even when it received a mid-life refresh for 2017.

Those who consider themselves true wheelsmiths will tell you that hydraulic steering offers a superior drive as it affords better feedback from the road, so they"ll no doubt be irked by the news that the 2018 Quattroporte tested here now includes the electric power steering already introduced on the Lavante and Ghibli models, as part of a raft of updates that bring the car on leaps and bounds, both technically and mechanically.

Maserati will tell you that it was holding back on this significant advancement until it was sure its system could offer the same rich feeling through the wheel of the hydraulic steering set-up, but the immediate conclusion from an outsider"s perspective is that they simply can"t keep up with manufacturing behemoths like the Porsche-owned VW Group.

But electric steering had to come eventually, Maserati says, as it"s lighter and less complicated, needs less maintenance, doesn"t drain nearly as much power from other systems and is more adaptable to fine-tuning. And the good news is that it was worth holding out; they have nailed it with the Quattroporte. If anyone claims they can tell the difference between the two systems, they"re doing better than most of the motoring journalists on the car"s launch in Courmayeur, Italy. Or telling fibs.

In addition, various passive safety systems become active in the new car. Adaptive cruise control now becomes Highway Assist, which keeps you a set distance behind the car in front but also adds a certain amount of steering control, as long as you keep your hands on the wheel.

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