'14 Quattroporte is stately Maserati.

AuthorHarper, Jason H.

Byline: Jason H. Harper

Asked to describe the brand Maserati, most people would use words like Italian, expensive and exotic.

They'd be right, mostly. The best-selling Maserati in the U.S. is the four-door Quattroporte, an Italian-made sedan that is reasonably fast and, in the case of the car I tested, plenty pricey at $159,600. The overall character, however, was more stately than sexy, buttoned-down rather than exotic.

Put away those thoughts of the Italian supercar of your dreams. This car is aimed at the reclining CEO or perhaps even a fortunate family.

Fiat sPA owns Maserati and Ferrari, and both companies' original factories are only a few miles apart in northern Italy. The Maserati brothers were racing cars by the early 1900s. Yet these days the notion that the company sells fire-breathing sports cars has arguably worked against it, scaring off buyers who assume they'll find supercar prices at dealerships.

The new Quattroporte Q4 starts at $105,600, whereas the closest thing to a people-carrier that Ferrari sells is the four-seat FF, at more than $300,000.

This is the sixth generation of the Quattroporte, and for the 2014 model we get an entirely redesigned car with two engine choices, a V-6 and V-8, each with distinct price points. The test car, a GTS V-8 model, has an MSRP of $143,600.

The twin-turbo V-6 Q4 model is all-wheel-drive, a must in this category, especially in markets like the American Northeast. The V-8 comes only as a rear-wheel-drive, a configuration which will disappoint some.

The major point of departure from the last generation is that the engines are turbo-charged, losing the distinct sound and high-revving nature of the previous naturally-aspirated V-8. They lack some of the visceral appeal, but are more efficient and powerful.

Both motors were designed by Maserati and assembled by Ferrari. The V-6 has 404 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque; the...

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