IT is like no other car you have ever driven or will ever drive again. And once you are hooked there is no turning back.
The new Maserati Quattroporte range is beautiful, stylish and iconic. These cars turn heads wherever they go.
Available is the far-from-basic Quattroporte, Executive GT and Sport GT, and with the creation of an all-new automatic version (to sit alongside the manual DuoSelect model), new Quattroporte gives sports car drivers more flexibility and choice with their driving style.
This pure Italian grand tourer is capable of comfortably seating four adults (plus luggage) and whisking them to their destination with grace and pace to the soundtrack of the superb 4.2-litre V8 engine.
On Monday the motoring press got the keys and were able to put the cars through their paces on a selection of different routes away from public roads, where the cars' capabilities could be thoroughly tested and, ultimately, enjoyed.
The Sport GT with DuoSelect I found to be quite the thoroughbred racing car with its Formula One-derived technology.
Driving this car is very engaging and would prove tiresome on a long journey for me. Although, for many drivers this is the perfect way to unwind after a stressful day in the office. If you are a fan of track days, where you can really throw the car around and push it hard without risk of prosecution, there is much fun to be had. As was demonstrated by ex-F1 racing driver and director of Maserati's Master GT driving course, Ivan Capelli.
However, I think the winner here is the Quattroporte Automatic. Maserati has opened up the grand touring market to more drivers with this laid-back option. You still have your performance sports car in a luxury saloon but with far less effort. This model has a 0-62mph time of 5.6 seconds and a top speed of 167 mph. It is encroaching on super car territory with these figures.
However, the fact that it's a luxury saloon means your friends can come along for the ride. And what a fantastic ride it is. The red line comes at 7,200 rpm, as the engine strains with its throaty Italian super car roar.
Skyhook suspension constantly monitors the surface of the road and adjusts the dampers. You can choose sports or comfort settings - either way, you don't feel the road much at all. It's as if you are hovering just above the ground.
Few luxury saloons can compare themselves to this style of driving. One minute you're a racing driver, the next you're chauffeuring your parents to the airport in style. Nouveau-classique looks and race car technology aside, Maserati's attention to detail is second to none. Inside the cabin you will find all the limousine comforts imaginable and all perfectly placed, with just the right amount of head and leg room to surround each occupant.
From the leather trim to the walnut dashboard and chrome switchgear, the package is flawless. There are more colours and trim options than you can shake spaghetti at, and everything in the cabin is unique to Maserati.
I think the marque has really done Italy proud with this latest model. It offers the best of both worlds, whether you love the fast lane or a Sunday saunter - or both. Enjoy la Dolce Vita with the Maserati Quattroporte.
DuoSelect and Automatic cost the same, whichever model you choose and prices start at £77,090 for the Quattroporte.
12:46pm Wednesday 18th April 2007