SINCE the Maserati Quattroporte's long, flowing lines were introduced with the fifth-generation car a decade ago, the QP has always been associated with the V8 engine.
Not anymore. The sixth generation of this full-sized luxury Italian sedan has debuted a brand new 3.0-litre V6 twin turbo unit. Called the Quattroporte S, it produces 410 hp and 550 Nm.
Like the Quattroporte GTS with a 3.8-litre V8, the engine drives the rear wheels through an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission.
Both the V6 and V8 are designed by Maserati but made by Ferrari. And while the V6 is clearly the "entry-level" version compared with the V8, it is surprisingly punchier despite a 120 hp and 100 Nm deficit.
Blip the throttle of the Quattroporte S and the exhaust growls, with the V6's power delivered more aggressively than in the GTS. It is clear that Maserati has tuned the V6 for sportier performance, to make the Quattroporte S more fun to drive.
Press the Sport button on the lower centre console and the engine response and transmission shift points are heightened. Two flaps in the twin exhaust pipes also open up for a deeper note.
Drive the QP hard in this mode and the exhaust gets louder and angrier, with a delicious backfire when easing off the accelerator or during automatic downshifts.
All these make the Quattroporte S so much more engaging than the Quattroporte GTS, which feels more refined and comfortable.
Both versions have the same big body, chassis, gearbox and infotainment. Both also have the Skyhook electronic suspension system, which allows the variable damping to be set to "Normal" or "Sport" by pressing a button on the lower centre console. But where the drive in the V8 is more cossetting, the experience in the V6 is harder-edged.
Inside, the V6's cabin looks virtually the same as the V8's, with the wide 8.4-inch centre Touch Control screen in the centre console, and the instrument binnacle with its two large meters and seven-inch TFT multi-function display. There is also the same generous rear legroom, thanks to the 3,171 mm wheelbase of this 5,262 mm long limousine.
One key visual difference, however, is the use of matte wood trim in the Quattroporte V6. In the V8, the wood is glossy.
Another important difference is that the V6 costs $100,000 less than the V8. This is due to the QP S's engine, hi-fi and braking system. The last one is carried over from the previous generation, with smaller discs and callipers, unlike the GTS' new-generation brakes. But in terms of efficiency, Maserati claims there is no difference.
The Quattroporte S may have the same size, luxury and utility as the GTS, but with its sportier character, there is no mistaking which version is more fun to drive.
Maserati Quattroporte S
Engine 2,979cc V6 turbocharged
Transmission 8-speed auto
Max power 410 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Max torque 550 Nm @ 1,750-5,000 rpm
0-100 kmh 5.1 secs
Top speed 283 kmh
CO2 emissions 244 g/km
Price $515,000 (w/o COE)
Distributor Hong Seh Motors
Tel 6266 1555