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Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT S
9/10

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Road Test

Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT S

Driven March 2009

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This is the finest large sporting saloon in the world. It sits at the top of a distinguished and expensive heap, including the V10 Audi S8, the 525bhp Mercedes S63 AMG and the all-new BMW 7-Series V8 twin turbo, and it trounces them all in different ways.

High praise indeed, but this new Quattroporte Sport GT S is that good. All the planets seem to have aligned at Maserati with this car, and the combination of a raft of small changes makes it completely rock.

First, a catch-up with the Maserati model line-up, in case it's overtaken you lately. Anything with an ‘S' means the new wet-sump 4.7-litre V8 is under the nose. So, the GranTurismo coupe comes in standard (4.2-litre) and S (4.7) forms. The coupe S uses a version of Ferrari's F1 ‘flappy paddle' robotised manual 'box, fitted at the rear in a transaxle layout.

This Quattroporte Sport GT S gets a very similar 4.7-litre engine, tweaked to give 433bhp (8bhp more than the standard QP S and 38bhp more than the 4.2) but mated to a conventional ZF automatic gearbox - the same 'box you'll find on Jags, Mercs and BMWs, but tweaked to Maserati's high-revving requirements. It is a fantastic auto - quick to change in manual mode, and smooth and direct in automatic, a perfect match for the car's character.

One more feature worth noting is that this QP Sport does not get the adaptive ‘Sky Hook' suspension of other Masers - it gets stiffer springs all round and sits lower, but you can't adjust it. Fine. We'll take what the engineers think is best. Cosmetic changes like darkened headlight lenses, black concave grille spars and oval pipes complete the picture.

At the end of all that, what you have is a striking-looking and strongly built saloon with tremendous handling, a car that can be quiet and comfortable when it needs to be. Then, hit the Sport button, and some flaps open in the exhaust to send the sound straight through. This is one of the very, very greatest engine sounds - a delectable V8 howl, a spine-tingling note that will have you driving through towns in Sport mode with the windows down in first gear at 4,500rpm, just to hear the sound bouncing off the walls.

Then there's the handling, aided by an engine that sits entirely behind the front axle line, effectively making the car front-mid-engined. Its ability from turn-in to apex is electric and instant, with steering that gives you plenty of feel. Weight balance is 49 per cent front, 51 per cent rear, aided by a fuel tank that sits behind the rear seats and cuts into the boot. Who cares? Not us.

Bring on the Porsche Panamera and the Aston Rapide. The Quattroporte Sport GT S awaits them, unblinking and unafraid. No full-sized four-door car goes harder or better.

Bill Thomas

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Latest road tests

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9/10 Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT S
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