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Maserati claims to have become one of the pioneers of the performance saloon market when it dropped a V8 into the very first Quattroporte 4200 in 1963.

Now, having refined and redeveloped the 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 of the 2014 Quattroporte GTS and then put it to work in the Levante Trofeo of 2019, it has endowed this new range-topping Quattroporte with that same engine, which makes up to 572bhp of peak power and 538lb ft of torque between 2250rpm and 5250rpm.

Red-edged wing vents are among few distinguishing styling features on the Trofeo’s exterior. They’re colourful – but don’t really advertise the car’s 572bhp V8 quite as boldly as they might

The Trofeo’s engine uses a Ferrari F154 cylinder block; but its crossplane crankshaft, special camshafts and high-tumble cylinder heads, wet sump lubrication system and parallel twin-scroll turbocharged, twin-intercooled induction system are all of Maserati’s own design. If the foundations of a great super-saloon are laid on a great performance engine, it certainly sounds like a promising start.

Where next, though? The Quattroporte Trofeo doesn’t look like the typical steroidal, bespoilered, fast four-door, and that might be because Maserati considered it vital that the car should blend visual aggression with elegance as only a sophisticated Italian option could. Judging by the reactions of our test jury, though, the firm might have played it too safe. The Trofeo rejects typical super-saloon styling addenda, such as bootlid spoilers and bonnet louvres, and its lack of a truly sporting stance (despite the fitment of 21in forged alloy wheels as standard) made one tester remark that he might have mistaken the car for a mid-range model.

The Trofeo uses the same mixed-metal chassis as the standard Quattroporte and the same front- mounted ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. It gets enlarged iron brake discs and calipers, stiffened coil springs and reprogrammed Skyhook adaptive dampers (whose management software is informed by a greater range of data inputs than most adaptive damping systems). Specially developed Pirelli P Zero tyres also feature, as does a new Corsa drive mode, which recalibrates the engine, transmission, steering and stability control for optimal high-performance driving.

The Quattroporte Trofeo does not have the ability to manage and manipulate its mass, cornering posture or inertia via four-wheel steering, active air suspension or active anti-roll bar system – any of the systems, in other words, that are used by rival car brands to make big, heavy, long-wheelbase luxury cars feel smaller and nimbler.

Instead of the stability and assurance of four-wheel drive, it counters with the ‘purity’ of rear-wheel drive.