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The 2005 Maserati Quattroporte Is the Easiest Way to Look Rich for $20,000

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author photo by Doug DeMuro August 2017

Here's a fact for you: You can buy an early used Maserati Quattroporte for $20,000. This is not an exaggeration. The average asking price on Autotrader for an early Quattroporte -- 2005 through 2007 or so -- is roughly $24,000, and it only seems to continue sinking. Several examples are listed for under $20,000.

Here's another fact for you: If you buy an early used Maserati Quattroporte for $20,000, people will not think you spent $20,000. People will think you paid the original value of the Quattroporte, which was $106,000 before options. People will think you're rich. Very, very rich.

Here's a final fact for you: No matter how much you want people to think you're rich, you shouldn't buy an early Maserati Quattroporte.

I recently rented a Maserati Quattroporte from Turo in Minneapolis to find out exactly why this is. For those of you who don't know Turo, it's a service that allows you to rent other peoples' cool cars rather than normal, boring rental cars. Turo gives me a budget to rent cool cars whenever I travel -- and for my recent trip to Minneapolis, I selected a 2005 Quattroporte. I worked at a Maserati dealership back when these were new, and I remember thinking they were pretty bad back then. I wanted to see how bad they are now. The answer is: very, very bad. Awful. Terrible. And today, I'm going to tell you why.

The primary reason the 2005 Quattroporte is terrible is its transmission, which is the single worst transmission ever devised by an automaker for application in a vehicle in modern times, and possibly ever. The way the transmission works is, you're driving along, and then it's time to upshift, and then the thing takes about 11 seconds to make that happen, causing you to lurch forward in your seat and spill whatever's in the tremendously shallow cupholder. This happens on every single shift.

The reason the Quattroporte's transmission is so bad is that it's one of these single-clutch "F1-style" transmissions (Maserati called it DuoSelect) that was developed before the advent of the dual-clutch. Everyone knew this transmission was horrible back in 2005 -- so horrible, in fact, that Maserati later replaced it with a traditional automatic, which was actually pretty nice -- but it's really horrible now, in hindsight, when we see what automatic transmissions have become. It's lurchy, awkward, slow, uncomfortable and tiresome, and it doesn't just worsen the Quattroporte driving experience -- it ruins it. And I mean that.

Once you get past the transmission, you'll find that, well, there are more issues with the transmission. Namely, the pump inside the transmission, which can periodically fail, requiring a $3,000 replacement, and the transmission's clutch, which can fail as often as every 15,000 to 20,000 miles -- requiring a $4,000 replacement. If you're buying one of these, make sure the pump and the clutch have recently been replaced, or else, well ... good luck.

But the Quattroporte's problems go way beyond the transmission. Let's discuss, for example, the ergonomics: The car has two buttons on the steering wheel that do exactly the same thing (both buttons can change the radio presets up or down), but the buttons for the cruise control system are placed under the gauge cluster, behind the ignition switch, where you can't see them. There are four buttons in the interior to control the rear sunshade, and yet they couldn't get the cruise control buttons within view of the driver.

When you shift into reverse in the Quattroporte, it beeps. Not on the outside, like a heavy truck that's backing up, but on the inside, frequently, in an annoying, high-pitched tone that reminds you of something you surely already know: You're in reverse. When you start the Quattroporte, the check engine light stays on for 22 seconds, just to give you some nice anxiety before you get on with your commute. The Quattroporte I drove had no sunroof, no heated seats, and a blue interior. With blue door panels. And that wasn't rare: Most early Quattroporte models had a blue interior. There is, of course, no good explanation for this.

And then we come to my favorite part of the Quattroporte interior, which was its infotainment system -- quite possibly the worst infotainment system of all time. The Quattroporte had no radio presets displayed in the center control stack, which meant you had to access them through the infotainment system. This wasn't, and isn't, that uncommon, but there was a problem: The infotainment system wasn't a touchscreen. So if you were using the navigation system and you wanted to change the radio station, you had to push "RADIO," then navigate to the presets, then scroll through them, then choose one, then push the preset you wanted, the push "NAV" to go back to the navigation system. Just to change the radio station. You could also use the buttons on the steering wheel, of course, but you could only use them to scroll through the presets -- not pick a specific one.

Admittedly, there are some benefits to the Quattroporte. With the right exhaust, it sounds good. Also, it handles pretty well -- even 12 years later, it feels like it's light on its feet. And I took my rented Quattroporte through a Wendy's drive-thru, causing a massive commotion among the employees, who couldn't believe they were laying eyes on a Maserati. "MAN! HOW MUCH DID THAT THING SET YOU BACK?!??!" When I told them it was only $20,000 -- "twenty stacks," as they said -- they were in disbelief.

But the moment you start thinking nice things about the Quattroporte, a new issue crops up -- like how you could shake the entire center climate control area in the one I drove, or how the turn signal levers are hidden behind the shift paddles, or how they installed a "TV" button even though the Quattroporte didn't offer a TV. It's amazing people paid $100,000 or more for these things.

In the end, the Quattroporte has a few benefits. But it's also a poorly designed luxury sedan with a horrible transmission, a blue interior, a horrible infotainment system, dubious reliability and not enough equipment -- and the interior is a true ergonomic disaster.

But, then again ... it's twenty grand. For a Maserati!

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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The 2005 Maserati Quattroporte Is the Easiest Way to Look Rich for $20,000 - Autotrader