New Maserati adds to luxury market

If this Italian thoroughbred doesn't appeal to the head, it will certainly appeal to the heart.
The power of a brand is no more obvious than at the luxury end of the new-car market. If you're looking to buy a supercar or limousine, then heritage, style and exclusivity are just as important as performance, features and on-road manners.
Little wonder, then, that European brands dominate.
With Maserati there's a certain mystique about the Italian sports car maker that's known for its Ferrari engines and gorgeous designs.
Now with a regular automatic transmission (in lieu of the earlier clutchless semi-auto) and some styling tweaks as part of a recent update, the Quattroporte is also a serious contender against limousines from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and Bentley. It's also primed to compete with the new breed of four-door sports cars, such as Porsche's Panamera.
The Quattroporte sells from $286,000 with the 4.2-litre engine. Step up to the $323,800 Quattroporte S tested here and you get a 4.7-litre V8, among other go-fast goodies.

Unsurprisingly, the Quattroporte hasn't been independently crash tested. But it does come loaded with safety gear, including front and front-side airbags and the all-important curtain airbags that protect heads in a side impact. There's also a stability control system to help control a skid.

It may be big and spacious but the Quattroporte is also athletic and highly capable.
As part of the S package there are 19-inch alloy wheels, which provide excellent cornering grip, sometimes at the expense of ride quality. Its composure can be troubled by road joins or other sharp imperfections.
The Sport button makes auto shifts more aggressive, as well as firming the suspension to reduce corner lean. But it also reduces the ride quality for everyday driving.
The wood-trimmed steering wheel feels upmarket to the touch, although the steering is light-ish. It can be too sensitive at freeway speeds but translates to inherent alertness on a winding road.

Can be thirsty, noise from rear at speed, sharp ride on some surfaces.
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