The fifth-generation Maserati Quattroporte is a car I absolutely adore. It’s as close to a series-production Ferrari sedan as you’ll get. Maserati was under Ferrari control at this time, and the car used a cross-plane crank version of Ferrari’s F136 V8, and it even debuted with an infuriating single-clutch automated transaxle with a clutch lifespan of about 15,000 feet. While a 2007 update engineered out the awful DuoSelect gearbox and made the Quattroporte V wonderful, it didn’t fix the weirdest ergonomic quirk of the car.
Sure, some people had iPods, but people still bought CDs in the 2000s. As such, no flagship luxury sedan from the 2000s is complete without an in-dash CD changer, and each automaker seemed to have its own approach for packaging this bulky cassette of discs. BMW stashed it in the bowels of the dashboard to the right of the center stack, Lexus shrunk it down and hid it in the center stack, and Maserati…well, Maserati’s Italian.
Traditionally, it’s felt like Italian carmakers had someone come in on a Thursday, ponder packaging over a glass of Chianti, and completely neglect ergonomics because fashion trumps all. The Fiat 500L had a parking brake handle like an early-’90s automatic shifter and it was way down by the driver’s back pocket. The Ferrari Testarossa’s climate controls were haphazardly strewn about the center console. The Alfa Romeo 164’s driving position was laid out by an alien being who’d never seen a human before in their life. I’m sure there’s a context in which these ergonomic quirks make perfect sense, but in North America, they’re more charming than useful.
So where did Maserati put the CD changer for the Quattroporter? In the glovebox? Nah, too obvious. Under the seat? Nope, too accessible. Maserati put the CD changer for the fifth-generation Quattroporte under the steering column. Imagine getting nut-checked by a copy of Sugar Ray’s “14:59.”
Even once you moved the steering column up out of the way and dropped the door obscuring the CD changer from view, don’t expect to easily load discs. The changer itself was unusual, a Blaupunkt unit with individual slots and eject buttons for discs one through five instead of a compact cassette. Once you were finally down there, you needed fingers the diameter of toothpicks to press any of the eject buttons.
While there was certainly space under the steering column to mount a CD changer, you can’t help but wonder whether this is any improvement over loading CDs from the trunk. I guess if your luggage compartment is full of Fendi luggage or small business owners who couldn’t pay the protection money, loading discs under the column is easier, but those are very niche use cases.
While likely an annoyance at the time, I must concede that the Quattroporte’s CD changer isn’t really necessary today. A variety of Bluetooth boxes plug in where the CD changer goes so you can have modern music connectivity in your ‘00s Quattroporte. Still, I’ll take a CD changer under the steering column if it means not sharing switchgear with a Dart. Plus, it’s not like music is really necessary in a Quattroporte – the note of the Ferrari-derived V8 is so intoxicating, it’s best to just turn off the stereo, drop a gear, and enjoy your own internal combustion opera.
(Photo credits: Maserati)
Support our mission of championing car culture by becoming an Official Autopian Member.
The Barbie Edition Maserati Grecale Is So Pink I Can No Longer See Other Colors
The 2024 Maserati GranTurismo Has A Twin-Turbo V6 Because Not Everyone Wants An EV GT
The Maserati GranTurismo Folgore Looks Fabulous, But Do Electric GTs Make Sense?
A Hapless Tourist Sent A Maserati Levante Down The Spanish Steps Because He Said His Nav Told Him To
Why The 510-Horsepower Jaguar XJ Supersport Is A Rare Sleeper Worth Remembering
Got a hot tip? Send it to us here. Or check out the stories on our homepage.
The stock Subaru stereo in my WRX was a double DIN unit, that you just kept feeding CDs until it was “full”.. I guess.. I assume it was a 6 CD changer, but I never actually looked under the car to see if they just fell out the bottom. I mean it was 2003, I had little expectation
SubaruFuji Heavy Industries was able to offer an actual CD changer.. Not even in their primer sports sedantractor, ..
“ Maserati put the CD changer for the fifth-generation Quattroporte under the steering column.”
I was expecting it to be somewhere completely insane like in the engine bay next to the air filter.
Honestly? I like this better than the trunk, which is hardly a convenient spot to change music options even if there’s nothing in it. At least this you can use without getting out of the car completely. It might be unusual, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
I am physically incapable of conceiving an alternate reality in which I owned a copy of Sugar Ray’s “14:59”. I’m very much aware of the Many-worlds interpretation, but that is one outcome that I just can’t grasp.
I would assume the Venn diagrams for these scenarios overlap almost perfectly with the target audience for a Quattroporte.
But is it worse than all the trunk mounted ones? I hated those so much, as they would become inaccessible when the trunk was full.
When I installed my first 6-disc changer in the trunk of my Camry, I mounted it to the beam just under the rear window so it was accessible even with a full trunk.
But cars that came with the multi-CD box stock often had it mounted right at the bottom of the luggage compartment, more often that not as far away from the hatch/trunk opening as physically possible. It always felt pretty stupid to me.
It’s a funny spot to put a CD changer. Truly enjoyed learning about this.
Would also, in the friendliest way possible, like to point out that the Italian stereotypes are unfair and unnecessary. Italian cars are/were built 99% like any other cars using the same materials and basic designs as other cars but they put the handbrake somewhere odd and OMG CRAZY ITALIANS.
Imagine finding one of the many quirks on any domestic vehicle and writing an OMG CRAZY ROYAL OAK BOYS USED PUSH BUTTON TRANSMISSION CONTROLS ON THE GMC ACADIA WTF article…
I daily drove an Alfa 164 and it’s a fairly normal seat layout. The hyperbole and stereotyping just feel uninspired here.
Counterpoint: I owned a 90s-era Ducati.
No, the line about the 164’s ergonomics also applies to the Dodge Promaster. It was quite obviously designed by someone who did not care that people would have to actually drive a work van for full work days.
I suggest a little audio on the video. Or let Charlie Chaplins ghost do the silent acting.
This is not what I meant when I wrote “bring back crotch vents.”
Needs to be the new slogan for Biden’s 2024 run?
Ehh…but then the crotch vent would be tiny when it sneaks through and probably blocked by the courts.
Clearly, we need to resort to extra-governmental efforts to get the ol’ ball chiller back in production. Maybe we can convince Tesla it’s the next big, dumb gimmick. They love a dumb gimmick, and others out there love to copy the dumb gimmicks.
I recall many of them in the trunk and a few under back seats in pickup trucks. the best ones were always the ones that held 5 in the space behind the double din face. the face slid out like a lower lip and you plopped them bad boys right in.
“Hey babe, grab my Squirrel Nut Zippers (cd) for me, will ya?” 😉
Hey baby, could you change the CD for me?
I’m an unabashed fan of these cars. I was researching yesterday what it would take to modify that automated manual of a duoselect transmission in to a manual trans. On the fab side it doesn’t take all that much, just keeping the ECU from freaking out is the hard part. But it does look like there are a couple of people out there who have figured out the tuning. Man that would make for a sweet DD, despite the potential electrical gremlins you would still have to face.
The laws of physics prove you cannot daily an Italian car.
My 500 Abarth begs to differ.
I put a changer behind the seat in my 1995 Nissan regular cab truck. My 2012 Miata has a CD changer in the center console, but it’s a single slot design; no cartridges. Since I don’t drive the Miata frequently and the NVH is pretty high, I just burned some MP3 discs and “listen” to those while driving. Sometimes I might actually hear the melody.
And here I thought Sugar Ray could only hurt your ears.
You must not have watched any of the videos.
You must have never seen him box!
The last time I attempted to use a CD player was about seven months ago when I bought my RX-8. I bought it in Connecticut and drove it home to Florida. I knew I would eventually install a Bluetooth adapter, but I figured for the ride home I would play some CDs for whatever nostalgia factor I thought I needed. So I put about five or six CDs into my luggage and somewhere on the Yankee Expressway, put Bleed American into the in dash CD changer (the correct location after they moved them from the trunk). I only got so far as A Praise Chorus before I absolutely gave up. Turns out my CD collection is scratched beyond belief!
Sad day! Sometimes a little Jimmy Eat World just hits the spot.
A six-disc CD changer is essential for road trips in the wilds of America.
My guess was under the passenger seat since it’s a driver’s car. Darn!
I feel like I’ve seen a CD changer in a center console before too, but I can’t recall where.
That’s where many are migrating to, if new cars even have them at all.
My ’03 Infiniti had a 6-disc changer in the center console. Only it was the feed-one-disc-at-a-time type. So when a disc eventually got stuck (which was common in these after 5 yrs or so) it was time to yank the whole center panel out, remove the stereo, which also included the HVAC controls, buy a new front panel with separate HVAC controls off ebay and a cheap single DIN Sony stereo with BT and USB. Haven’t used a CD in a car since then.
The loaded ’03 Sable wagon I drove for a bit had a 6-disc changer in the console. It even did a decent job reading burned discs.
My 08 GTI has a CD changer in the center console.
My 2022 Subaru Outback has it in the console under the armrest. I have never used it.
I thought it would be in the engine bay. I mean you’re going to spend so much time looking in there anyway.
This snark isn’t getting enough love.
I know, right? COTW