Maserati, you see, employed angels to tune the engine, in the time-honoured Italian way. It then put it on the catwalk and told fashion designers to sort the paint and interior trim. Before using the angels as a contact for Alberto Ascari, to come down from above and sort out the handling.
We are besotted, make no mistake. Two days in Italy a few years ago, behind the wheel of the Sport GT S, left us utterly beguiled. And what was it pressing all the right buttons? A four-door sports coupe, no less.
Quattroporte means four-door. We know, the translation loses some of that mystique doesn’t it? But it’s a name from Maserati’s past; the brand produced a four-door model just like this in the 1960s. That was cool, too, but not as cool as this.
Introduced in 2004, the Quattroporte was Maserati’s upscale rival to the Jaguar XJ. Long, lithe, sleek, and complete with massively long front wings sporting no less than three functional air exits, you really could imagine the rear doors almost as an afterthought.
Under the bonnet was a 4.2-litre V8 engine, complete with dry sump taken straight from race track principles. This ensures better oil delivery during frenzied cornering. Which was a pointer to this car’s intended driver mindset.
This engine, incidentally, is a shared design with Ferrari. It’s also seen amidships, in slightly larger form, in the Ferrari F430. And we all know how fantastic they are…
Here, it doesn’t wail, but burbles. Elegantly, with dignity – and, at 7,000rpm-plus, pretty deliciously. The 0-60mph dash in 5.6 seconds isn’t record-breaking, but swift enough given how useable the engine is. We drove the full automatic version, as opposed to the original, jerky DuoSelect semi-auto. F1-style gearboxes are fine for Ferraris, but not here…
Another car that has besotted us recently is the Ford Focus RS. The first generation of which the same guy who sorted the Maserati’s handling also worked on. This, to drive, is so very different in character, but equally magnificent. The steering is pin-sharp perfect and as pure as a racer.
Handling’s incisive too. The way it flows from corner to corner – well, it’s just delicious. Get it on a bumpy road, too, and while it’s taut, it soaks up all the roughness and remains composed like a true great.
There’s mastery at work in the way the Quattroporte drives. An hour behind the wheel will have you pleading with the Gods to own one. Today, it’s even more magnificent.
Maserati has fitted the 4.7-litre V8 engine – which, in Sport GT S guise, produces a wailing, but majestic, 433bhp. That’s if you want to go brand-new, though.
If you’d prefer, say, a secondhand Sport GT S, now’s the time. They’re coming down in price all the while – and, courtesy of our friend Tim Marlow at Bridford, even a nearly-new one can cost an amorous £769 a month with a £37k deposit. Believe us, this is not a lot to get what will be the love of your life… and the perfect chariot for a successful dealer principal.
by RICHARD AUCOCK
Price: £86,995 (09/09)
Engine: 4.7-litre, V8
Power: 433bhp, 490Nm
One: £36,995 deposit, 24 x £769 plus final payment*
Two: £16,995 deposit, 48 x £1,209 plus final payment*