Some might argue that in the long history of that exotic four-door Italian beauty, the Maserati Quattroporte (which has a badge so redolent of past glories that it would sell on its name alone), its sweet spot hit at around the time of the grandiloquent 2004 Mk5 version.
Nowadays, you can buy one for buttons, and consider what you get in return. It may be the length of a football pitch, but its sleek and elegant Pininfarina body still looks tremendous. And its engine is a characterful and wonderfully sonorous 394bhp all-aluminium 4.2-litre V8 that revs to 7000rpm and bubbles with brio. It’s strong enough to hurtle this honey from 0-60mph in just 5.0sec and on to 171mph. That’s quick enough to give the family a thrill, and they’ll be lost in admiration for the sound it makes, too.
Mind you, it did initially work with a bit of an erratic six-speed automatic gearbox, called Duoselect. Linked to the rear wheels through a transaxle, it operated brilliantly in manual mode but was jerky and slow when left to its own devices.
In 2005, the new Executive GT and Sport GT models brought a quickeracting ’box, and from 2007 Maserati finally offered a proper ZF auto. Not that the Duoselect died, because it clung on in the Sport GT, a much more focused beast – lower, stiffer and with more powerful brakes.
In 2008, the Quattroporte was refreshed with a new front grille, lights and wing mirrors and, inside, a redesigned centre console. Not only that, but also a new GT S version was introduced. Power came from a 4.7-litre V8 that produced 433bhp – enough to launch the car from 0-62mph in a shade under 5.0sec. Phwoar, I need hardly add.
Every version of the Quattroporte steers quickly and precisely and handles in a surprisingly neutral and sporty fashion – with verve, even, if you push it hard. In fact, tail-out action is quite possible. Not always deliberately, I know from first-hand experience, but it is at least quite easy to recover.