This is the Mk5 Quattroporte that arrived in 2004, when it cost from £70,000. It’s powered by the aforementioned 4.2 V8 linked to a six-speed automatic with paddle shifts, called the DuoSelect. Connected to the rear wheels through a transaxle, it works brilliantly in manual mode but is jerky and slow as an automatic.
The following year, the Executive GT and Sport GT models arrived, the Exec featuring wood and leather and the Sport 20in wheels, a quicker-acting ’box and a fruitier exhaust.
In 2007, Maserati finally offered the Quattroporte with a proper ZF auto. It was a re-engineering job that did away with the transaxle, moved the gearbox closer to the engine and gave the V8 a wet sump in place of the old dry one. The whole plot, suspension included, got a makeover, too, making these cars well worth their premium over earlier versions.
Not that the DuoSelect threw in the towel, because it clung on in the Sport GT, now a much more focused beast – lower, stiffer and with more powerful brakes. Meanwhile, the rare and luxurious Collezione Cento edition featured a pair of 10.4in touchscreens in the front seatbacks and — before this kind of thing became frowned upon — internet browsing via a keypad in the centre armrest.
In 2008, just as everybody thought Maserati had put away the Quattroporte drawing board, the model was refreshed once more with a new grille, lights and wing mirrors and, inside, a redesigned centre console. Not only that, but an all-new GT S version was launched. Power came from a 4.7-litre V8 that produced 433bhp — enough to launch the car from zero to 62mph in a shade less than five seconds.
The last Mk5s hit Maserati showrooms in 2013. With prices for good standard 4.2 cars starting from around £12,000, character has seldom looked so tempting.