Maserati Quattroporte driven in France

You enter the car and turn on the engine by pressing a button. The mighty roar of the 4.7-litre V8 has now been replaced by the subdued purr of a 3.8-litre V8 turbo. While the old car’s steering and engine note demanded you respect the powers that lie beneath, the new car’s steering and engine note urge you to relax and be at ease. I wondered if Maserati had gone a bit too far in trying to widen this car’s appeal. Thankfully, it hasn’t. Because, handling is still sublime. On the Mediterranean Sea-kissed coastal roads of Nice, the Quattroporte brandished the sword that makes it way sharper than an S-Class, A8 or 7 series and much less ponderous around bends than Bentleys. And you never feel the car shifting weight under hard braking.

The steering has toned down on heft and feel, but is easier. Think of the old car like a cellphone with buttons. You could do much less, but every action offered feel and feedback. The new steering is like a very good touchscreen phone. It’s effortless, quicker and way more versatile. It’s soft at slow speeds and weighs up well as you push the throttle closer to the floor. The new eight-speed gearbox doesn’t have your head tapping the headrest every time gears change.

Ride is more pliant and forgiving. And when you press the Sport button, the exhaust becomes louder. And in fully manual mode, the gears won’t change unless you use the paddles. But things still don’t sound as evil as the old 4.7-litre non-turbo V8. In place of a blood-curdling roar, there’s just a deep rumble. In place of burbles and hisses, there’s just smooth turbo whistle. What you get instead of the noise is nearly 90 per cent of the torque under 2000rpm. This, in an engine that can still rev gloriously to 7200rpm.