There’s lengthy starter whine before the Quattroporte fires with a yelp and settles to a subdued rumble. Select manual gearchanges, switch off the Maserati stability control and select Sport mode to engage the transmission’s most aggressive shift operation.

Floor the throttle, and there’s a split-second delay as the revs rise before the huge saloon lunges forwards.

There's a wonderful noise from the 4.2-litre V8

Short gearing means a lot of changes, which is fine when driving hard, the robotised manual gearbox giving 150-millisecond changes in Sport setting. As long as you’re happy to swap ratios yourself, the DuoSelect system works well, too. 

It’s in Drive that it trips up. There’s a perceptible nodding from the occupants as each automated shift occurs. Press on and this becomes a real pain, with a long wait as the software decides which gear to provide.

The front/mid-mounted engine in the standard Quattroporte is the same 4244cc V8 that powers the Coupé and Spyder, but with revised camshafts and modified mapping to boost low-end torque. With twin cams for each bank and 32 variably timed valves, the dry-sump unit produces 400bhp at 7000rpm and 339lb ft of torque at 4500rpm. Those numbers are outgunned by many of the Maserati’s rivals.

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • DS 7 Crossback E-Tense 2019 first drive review - hero front
    15 November 2019
    First Drive
    DS 7 Crossback gains a new flagship plug-in hybrid four-wheel-drive powertrain
  • Mazda 3 2019 road test review - hero front
    15 November 2019
    Car review
    The Japanese firm puts its new-age petrol engine in the fourth-gen family...
  • Mercedes-AMG GT R Pro
    14 November 2019
    First Drive
    Mercedes-AMG’s V8 sports car gets a hardcore chassis makeover but remains...

That’s where the Quattroporte S steps in. With its 430bhp 4.7-litre V8 motor, it delivers a handy extra amount of power across the rev range from 2300rpm, peaking at the same 7000rpm sweet spot. There’s an improvement in torque delivery, too, with 361lb ft of twist. The Quattroporte GTS might only increase power by 10bhp, but there's more to it than that.

The power is up because the exhaust has an active valve that, if you press a button on the dash, sends gases out without damping a great deal of their sound.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • DS 7 Crossback E-Tense 2019 first drive review - hero front
    15 November 2019
    First Drive
    DS 7 Crossback gains a new flagship plug-in hybrid four-wheel-drive powertrain
  • Mazda 3 2019 road test review - hero front
    15 November 2019
    Car review
    The Japanese firm puts its new-age petrol engine in the fourth-gen family...
  • Mercedes-AMG GT R Pro
    14 November 2019
    First Drive
    Mercedes-AMG’s V8 sports car gets a hardcore chassis makeover but remains...