Sport GT? Explain please?
Maserati has expanded its big saloon range, adding two new models to sit alongside the regular Quattroporte: the luxury-angled Executive GT and the performance-focused Sport GT. The Executive gets a chrome-finished grille and 19" rims, Allegro Vanden Plas-influenced retractable wood tables and even privacy curtains.
I've never really bought into the privacy curtain craze.
Indeed. So let me tell you about the Sport GT. It rolls on Carrera S-lookalike wheels an inch larger and gets black chrome for the grille and air intakes. There's a more vocal exhaust, the Skyhook adaptive dampers get a new program, the brakes are uprated and there are smatterings of carbon fibre in the cabin.
And presumably the Sport version's had a big bhp injection?
No, it's got the same 4.2-litre V8 and the same 396bhp as the other models. That's not really a huge amount of power in a market dominated by heavyweight 500bhp German saloons, particularly when the Maserati weighs 1970kg. So mating the new metal throttle pedal with the bulkhead reveals the QP to be quick rather than frantic. You have to work at it too: it doesn’t feel overly strong low down so you'll be reaching for the paddles on a regular basis, which is less of a chore thanks to the changes to the gearbox.
An improved gearbox! Doesn't Maserati know you can't polish a turd? That old paddle-shift transmission must be mirror-finished by now.
True it'll never match a proper torque-converter equipped auto for smoothness but this is a good as things are going to get. Changes are smoother and in sport mode they're 35 per cent quicker too.
Why doesn't Maserati do the decent thing and fit a proper auto gearbox?
Two reasons: first, an auto would struggle to cope with life near the V8's 7500rpm limiter and secondly because no transmission maker offers an auto box transaxle. What could happen is that Maserati might fit the rear-mounted DSG box currently being developed for Ferrari's 612 although there are rumours that a real auto my still find its way in there.
Okay enough gearbox chat, how does it go?
The launch cars' strangely mushy throttle responses and disappointing brake pedal feel were a bit disappointing but with the gearbox slung out back and the engine tucked up under the scuttle the QP offers an incredible 53 per cent rear weight bias and wonderful sense of balance. It feels like no other saloon car on earth, tucking eagerly into corners and doggedly resisting understeer. It even rides well and feels comfortingly well-screwed together. And now that some cosmetic additions have made one of the most beautiful cars on sale even more so, it's even harder to say no.
It's still flawed and we still want one. No other big saloon has such presence or anywhere near as much charisma. We love the regular £74,550 QP and it's even easier to fall for the Sport GT despite a £6k price hike.