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Discussion Starter #1
I just got back from taking a quick first drive in the new Automatic Quattroporte, and I have to say I am pretty impressed.

I expected to experience basically a Quattroporte with a Mercedes transmission, but this was not the case.

//This is a very partial review. I'm going to take the car home this week and get a real feel for it and I'll post that plus more pictures later.//

Starting the car I noticed a new exhaust note. A little bit deeper, but very slightly subdued vs. the DuoSelect. The new center console is shaped differently than the impression I had from the pictures released thus far. Its definitely a little bit higher, putting both the shifter and cup holder positions at a comfortable spot. After putting the car in Reverse, I realized the electronic parking brake had to be released to go. I'm not sure if this is a user-changable option yet or not, or if its even necessary with a real Park now, but the electronic operation was nice. I'd actually like to see it put into the DS cars.

Having the car start to back up as soon as I took some pressure off the brake for the first time was a bit strange, but you get the impression right away that the transmission is different. Not AT vs. DS different, but a different sort of automatic.

I left the dealership driving around on an inch of semi-packed snow that dropped over the weekend. Ice mode is improved over the DS, and traction felt more assured in the snow with summer tires.

Pretty quickly you appreciate just how different this car is, yet how much of the car's character is retained. The exhaust note is definitely deeper, less rasp, more guttural, but somewhat subdued in the cabin. I'm not sure if its simply the new drivetrain layout, or if its more soundproofing.

The programming of the new gearbox is superb, with a definite sporting character even in standard mode. The shifts are fast, precise, and at a slightly higher rpm than most under partial throttle acceleration. Get on the throttle a bit harder and the shift points match nicely. The new torque curve is apparent, and matches with this gearbox beautifully.

Hitting the sport mode button on the console (where M/A used to be) makes an instant difference. The ride changes feel the same, but I haven't had a chance to push the car with MSP in Sport or Off yet to see how the AT affects it.

Overall the transmission feels more directly connected to the engine than most. Its especially apparent under partial throttle and when slowing to a stop or downshifting. (although it is now missing the much loved throttle blips)

You can either flip the gear lever into manual mode, or grabbing a paddle at any time also puts the box into manual shifting mode. If you just grab the paddle it switches to manual mode and holds whatever you've done for about 10 seconds. I didn't drive the car much in Manual mode yet so that review will have to wait for now.

Overall, I am really impressed with this new car. (it really is more than just a transmission difference) It is definitely an automatic, but it is also definitely a *different* automatic.

It's much smoother than the DS in automatic, but its also not a boring ass Mercedes either. Maserati is going to have a hard time keeping up with demand on this one.

- Mark
 

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sounds fantastic!

I love the DS... but the realities of my life may beg for an automatic...

This sounds like a winner and I hate the Merc's boring ways :)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
That's a good question. Our first Automatic orders are likely to be delivered here late February to March at the earliest. These are cars we ordered towards the end of December. My guess is lead time will be around three months on these, and we may not end up with any extra cars for a long time.
 

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Mark,

Pardon my ignorance, but why buy the cambiocorsa with clutch issues when you seem to get a lot of the same sporting character with the auto? From what you've described, this is more than your run of the mill, tiptronic auto box that you just shift on the steering wheel.....or am I missing something?

Have you driven BMW SMG? If so, any similarity in feel between the two?

Thanks,
Steve
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
The Cambiocorsa \ DuoSelect cars don't really have clutch issues. They are what they are. The clutches last 12-20k depending on how you drive them. I'm not sure how that compares to SMG or DSG clutch life, but vs. Ferrari's F1 it is similar or better, but less expensive to replace.

I have driven the SMG in M3 and 330 flavor, and was not a fan. My overall impression is that in the hardcore sports mode its great for balls-out straight line acceleration and track-like use where you aren't stopping. (but ignore the part where it sounds like its taking the back end apart.) It didn't seem to matter what mode or sensitivity I had it set to in the M3, I always looked like a 15 year old learning my first manual transmission at stop lights. I'm sure its a transmission that can be learned, and made to behave how you want, but I personally feel the Maser system is far more mature and a better system overall, from mechanics to electronics. (although I do like the launch control)

I finally drove an Audi Sline TT DSG a few days ago, and I was really impressed with that transmission. I don't know the subtleties, but I can say just getting in and driving it hard was very straightforward and smooth. Clutch engagement was very smooth, and shifts were ridiculously fast. Faster than the SMG but without the mechanical butchery sounds.

The paddle-shifted automatic in Aston Martin's DB9 was the nicest I have driven previous to this QP, except that first gear was still oddly rough. Past first gear that box had lightning fast changes, and overall felt like a manual. I only drove the DB9 once, and I'm not sure what I was doing wrong that it was rough in first, but it was hard to modulate the throttle enough to start smoothly without engaging the traction control. It was like I had to let the car idle up to 10mph before getting on it.

Personally, I love the Quattroporte with the DuoSelect gearbox. That's the transmission I would order it with, hands down. A lot of people thought the transmission was a bit too rough for their tastes, and frankly the people that had issues with clutch life were probably better off with an automatic in the first place. As a more direct competitor with a big body BMW, Mercedes, or Audi, the Quattroporte with the Automatic is a far cooler car.

I think this really puts the DuoSelect in a class of its own. There are other changes between the Auto and DuoSelect cars - the weight balance is 51\49AT vs 53\47DS, the powerband is different, and a few other little things here and there. Overall the changes are minor, and the reality is that the autobox is the right transmission for this car for most owners.

For the minority owners out there, that truly want the performance that the DuoSelect cars give them, and are going to be exploring\pushing the upper 5-10% of the performance capabilities of the car, they will still be able to get an automobile that is truly unique.

- Mark
 

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Mark,

That's very interesting. I hear what you say about the duoSelect. I have to say that after three months in the GS, I'm not completely comfortable, but just about there. When driving from a stop, I always feel like the clutch is slipping a bit, and so I start feathering the throttle. I've learned to just trust it and push it down and let the transmission do its thing, and that's really improved the experience.

Last question: How would you compare the GS transmission versus the quattroporte....I always drive in sport so I would assume generally smoother shifts in the sedan? Any other major differences?

Thanks,
Steve
 

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Discussion Starter #8
The GranSport Cambiocorsa VS Quattroporte DuoSelect

Keep in mind how the cars shift is going to be affected as much by how you're driving now, as how you drove yesterday and the day before, so the performance does change a bit..

I think the GS CC is closest to the QP Sport GT DuoSelect, with shifts being maybe 10-30% slower in the QP, probably only because the car is heavier.

Tonight I get to bring the Automatic Quattroporte home to drive it around, and get used to the new transmission, so I'll put some miles on it, push it a bit, and see if I can get a better feel for the whole thing.

Scott put about 15 miles on the car earlier today, and he really liked it too, actually favoring it over the DuoSelect.
 

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Re QP Auto Sport GT

Can you tell us what extra you get with this vs QP Auto?
As far as I can see it is paddles, CF trim and...not much else.
As opposed to DS models where there were the trim elements but the main advantage was faster shifting in the DS gearbox.:confused:
 

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from what i understand the QP Auto transmission is similar to the DB9 auto.

for the QP Automatica Sport GT, you get your paddle shifters standard, as well as the Sport GT goodies (larger wheels, exhaust tuning, trims).

Steve, I can answer your question on the transmission in the GS's CC vs DS in the QP as I drive both of them very frequently. the GS's CC is quicker and more direct than the standard DS. this is very noticeable on lower rpms. on aggressive driving at higher rpms, there is minimal difference.
the CC is also programed to blip a lot more often on downshifts.
 

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M! said:
from what i understand the QP Auto transmission is similar to the DB9 auto.

for the QP Automatica Sport GT, you get your paddle shifters standard, as well as the Sport GT goodies (larger wheels, exhaust tuning, trims).

Steve, I can answer your question on the transmission in the GS's CC vs DS in the QP as I drive both of them very frequently. the GS's CC is quicker and more direct than the standard DS. this is very noticeable on lower rpms. on aggressive driving at higher rpms, there is minimal difference.
the CC is also programed to blip a lot more often on downshifts.

M,

Thanks for that feedback.....do you find you tire a bit of the cc transmission in the car for everyday driving? I ask that because as much as I love the GS, it's nice to drive my A8 for a few days and not even think about the transmission. I just wonder if having the Quattroporte as a daily would get a bit tiresome.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
So I took the car home last night, put an additional 40 miles on it, and I can't say enough good things about this setup.

The transmission behaves very similarly to the Aston Martin's DB9, except that while it shows very slight signs of the twitchy initial first gear roll on, it is far better in the QP AT. This is one of the best, if not the best automatic transmissions I have ever driven. Shifts are very fast, with downshifts at speed being as fast or faster than the Sport GT DS transmission. Its almost like at any given time it is just waiting for you to hammer on it. The software does an excellent job of matching the transmission with how you are driving, never searching for gears or shifting when you don't want it to - like holding speed around a clover leaf.

In normal and sport mode it generally cruises right around 2-2300 rpm, at 35 or 60mph. I think that compares to around 3000 rpm at 60mph in the DS cars. The MSP system is obviously a little bit different, but still works far better than its competitors.

The difference between the DS and AT cars is a little more apparent at the top 5-10% of the performance envelope. You can tell that the car is a hair slower, but the new torque curve makes city driving better, especially when its defaulting to a lower RPM than the DS.

Also, the electronic parking brake that I mentioned before, does not have to be deactivated every time you drive - simply start, select drive or reverse, hit the gas, and it automatically disengages.


So now there is the question, does the AT make the DS obsolete?


We don't think so. For one, the factory is going to be at capacity and will not be able to keep up with demand. For two, the DS still has a little better weight distribution, a bit more power, and definitely a higher and more controlled performance envelope. If you want a sports car with four doors, the QP DS is still the obvious choice.



Sport GT with an auto transmission will still get the bigger 20" wheels, CF interior trim, paddles, red calipers, black grilles, red accented tridents, and stiffer suspension.

- Mark
 

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Thanks for the reports Mark! Very informative!

Ferrari and Maserati of Seattle is going to call me when they get theirs in. I can't wait to try one! My last spin in a Quattroporte was my old 1980 Series III 4Porte with the Chrysler 3-Speed Torqueflight automatic! hahahaha...
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Cool!

I'm excited to hear what others that have spent some real time with the DS cars think about it.

We are pretty unanimous here at the dealership, but I'm guessing the journalists that never spent enough time with the original transmission to get used to it will probably have a skewed opinion in the first place, but on the other hand, I don't see anything left for them to complain about.
 

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Steve said:
M,

Thanks for that feedback.....do you find you tire a bit of the cc transmission in the car for everyday driving? I ask that because as much as I love the GS, it's nice to drive my A8 for a few days and not even think about the transmission. I just wonder if having the Quattroporte as a daily would get a bit tiresome.
steve,
flicking paddles on the QP is not tiresome at all. if you love your GS it should be fine. all in all, if you instinctively shifts in the GS, you would do the same in the QP.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
This is the first outside journalist penned articled I've seen on the new QP AT:

http://www.channel4.com/4car/di/maserati/quattroporte/6974/1

"...That call became even louder after first Aston Martin (DB9) then Jaguar (XK) launched cars whose ZF six-speed automatics were programmed with a quicker, more responsive manual-shift mode than any automatic, Porsche Tiptronic included, had ever managed before.

Once moving off, these cars kept their torque converters pretty much locked when being driven in manual mode, so the engine and transmission felt properly connected as they do in an F1-Shift-type robotised manual. Even better, they blipped the accelerator on the downshift before engaging the lower gear, so the shift was smoother and racier. The blip happened later in the shift than it does in the better robotised manuals, but it was enough and it was in time."

edit: here's another article:

http://www.carmagazine.co.uk/first_drive.php?sid=402&page=1

Sounds about the same.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Pictures

I took some pictures in both the DS and the AT cars, to try to highlight a few of the differences.

The center console is reshaped, the dash buttons change, the new wood is gorgeous, and the engine bay is a little bit busier.
 

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interesting to see the blue paintjob in the engine bay.
the engine does sit differently now.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Actually, I'm not sure that engine placement changed at all. One of the articles said the overall height doesn't change, as they weren't taking full advantage of the dry sump setup.

It definitely looks different with extra vacuum \ breather lines, and the oil filler cap on the left side. I was a little disappointed not to see it with some script on it or something.
 

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maserati of minneapolis said:
The Cambiocorsa \ DuoSelect cars don't really have clutch issues. They are what they are. The clutches last 12-20k depending on how you drive them. I'm not sure how that compares to SMG or DSG clutch life, but vs. Ferrari's F1 it is similar or better, but less expensive to replace.
My m3 has 95K miles on the original clutch. Lets not fool ourselves into thinking that the Cambiocorsa doesn't have issues/rapid wear. Its the price we pay for driving an exotic car.

I have driven the SMG in M3 and 330 flavor, and was not a fan. My overall impression is that in the hardcore sports mode its great for balls-out straight line acceleration and track-like use where you aren't stopping. (but ignore the part where it sounds like its taking the back end apart.) It didn't seem to matter what mode or sensitivity I had it set to in the M3, I always looked like a 15 year old learning my first manual transmission at stop lights. I'm sure its a transmission that can be learned, and made to behave how you want, but I personally feel the Maser system is far more mature and a better system overall, from mechanics to electronics. (although I do like the launch control)
Ummm, are you a sales person by any chance?

If the M3 drove as you describe it was in fact very broken and needed to be serviced asap. My commuter car is a M3 (vs my gran sport) and I would not describe the SMG at all the way you did. In fact its very easy to see if you drive both that the SMG is a far superior system to the Cambiocorsa/F1. SMG shifts faster, slips the clutch less (maybe that explains the rapid wear) is smoother off the line and has better controls (the stick makes it far easier to get in and out of reverse fast.

Small applications of the throttle allow you to inch forward even in sport mode and even my my silly blond girlfriend can drive it off the line like a pro. its easy, you just have to press the gas and the car accelerates smoothly with no muss. The best way I would describe the SMG is that its like having a driving instructor clutch and shift for you. The Cambiocorsa is similar but its so sloppy I might describe the instructor as your grandmother. I cant imagine someone driving both and saying that the Cambiocorsa is a superior system.

If you don't believe me, I suggest everyone here go test drive a M3 or a M5.
 
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