The twin-turbocharged V8 lying under the contoured bonnet is this car’s greatest asset. It’s the main event in its driving experience and an overwhelmingly dominant presence within its motive character, and there are several strings to its bow.
It starts in surprisingly reserved fashion, and also runs very quietly when you’re mooching about gently. The eight-speed gearbox that it drives through is occasionally guilty of clunking its way into reverse gear, and of whining and resonating just a little bit through the rearwards section of the car’s driveline under light throttle loads. In neither respect can the Quattroporte be considered one of the most refined limousines of its kind, clearly.
The car offers Sport, Corsa and ICE driving modes (ICE is short for Increased Control and Efficiency, rather than being a dedicated winter mode) in addition to its default mode. Selecting Sport introduces the vocal presence you’re anticipating from the V8 engine, which is rich and deep. Corsa turns the volume up another notch, although never quite to Mercedes-AMG or Jaguar SVR levels of demonstrative noise.
The engine’s boosty, torque-swollen power delivery suits a car of the Quattroporte’s size and role well. Get deep into the throttle when locked in an intermediate gear at middling revs and the way the car surges forward in response feels rather like pouring rainwater out of an old oil drum. The acceleration builds a little slowly and softly at first, but then it takes on a momentum all of its own, ultimately adopting a really willing, elastic and unstoppable quality. This engine doesn’t have the throttle response of some modern turbos, but it’s obedient enough and likes to rev, carrying on giving very freely beyond 6000rpm.
The gearbox, by contrast, feels somewhat clunky and slow in paddle- shift mode, and quite clearly like it’s blunting the car’s performance level rather than sharpening it. That it wouldn’t hold any ratio above fifth at lowish revs and maximum load even in manual mode is why we couldn’t record a full set of in-gear acceleration numbers.
With so much mass to move, only one driven axle and a fairly ordinary set of Pirelli tyres, the car struggles to get off the line with the urgency of some contemporary super-saloons – but it doesn’t hang around once it has found grip. We performance tested it on the same day and in the same test conditions as a Lotus Exige sports car of little more than half its weight, and while the Lotus was the quicker car of the two up to 60mph and over a standing quarter mile, the Maserati was comfortably quicker to 100mph and over a standing kilometre.