Maserati Quattroporte

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Maserati Quattroporte GT S

Driven December 2007

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As the car industry dissolves into ever-fragmenting niches, it's getting harder to tell whether manufacturers are creating cars to fulfil demand or creating a market for metal we don't need. The new Audi Cross Cabrio Quattro is the most recent example of this thinly disguised, answering-a-question-that-nobody-asked marketing ruse.

On the way to Modena to test this Maserati Quattroporte GT S, I was cynically expecting something of similar intent, a perfect supercar/luxo-barge fusion. From the press bumph, the 'S' sounded like an attempt to move the already-excellent big Maser even closer to the four-door supercar ideal.

The old Sport GT made a decent fist of things, but the new car has ditched the 'Skyhook' adaptive suspension in favour of single-rate Bilstein dampers, and bolted up a huge set of world-first dual-cast front brakes for an even more sporting bent.

Sorry, but no matter how you dress that up, it hardly reads like a Tomorrow's World approach to chassis dynamics. This, remember, is £90,000-worth of exclusive premium performance luxury whatever.
I smell the marketing stunt already.

The annoying thing is, though, the GT S somehow managed to drain all my segment-blurring cynicism away. Despite the apparent simplicity of the idea, the new suspension works in an impressively positive way, converting what is essentially a pretty chunky car into
a confidence inspiring, driver-focussed experience you just shouldn't expect from a limo.

It helps that the Ferrari-sourced (and unfettled for the GT S) 400bhp V8 is mounted behind the front axle for a near-ideal 50-50 front/rear weight distribution. The ZF auto gearbox is also a treat for mixing law-taunting supercar chasing with lazy squirts through town. In short, the GT S is a brilliant compromise.

There are a few issues you need to get past, though. For starters, that beautiful profile does ultimately force compromise on space; it's good but not great, and you will be disappointed with some of the switchgear and fittings in that sumptuous interior, too. As for ride, the sporting set-up leaves it a bit too hard, especially at low speed.

But you will, of course, forgive all this every time you look at it - and every time you hear it, too. You'll love it in a way you never could the ruthless efficiency of an AMG Merc.

Above all, though, Maserati has created a proper four-door supercar that both Aston and Porsche will have to work hard to find an answer to. Could that be a good thing? Oh yes. As if you ever needed to ask...






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