For a big car, the Maserati Quattroporte handles extremely well. Despite the extensive re-packaging that's gone into fitting the automatic tranny, effectively moving the gearbox from the rear of the car to the front, the Quattroporte Automatic retains a slight rear-end bias, which can allow for controlled oversteer when throwing the car into corners.
For the performance purist, the DuoSelect Quattroporte is still available with the semi-auto Ferrari transmission. But given this car's size and mission in life, the six-speed ZF automatic will likely satisfy a large portion of the car's target demographic. It really is very good, as smooth as you'd want in normal automatic mode-much, much smoother than the DuoSelect-with the option of flipping the lever over and shifting gears manually like the DuoSelect. To do this, you can use the center-mounted lever or steering column-mounted paddles. Normal gear selection isn't terribly quick, but pressing the Sport button shortens the changes nicely, about as quick as you'll find in a modern automatic transmission from any manufacturer. The Sport function also tightens the suspension. The owner's manual points out that ride comfort will suffer, which may be true, but the upside is a marked negation of that 'floating' feeling at high speeds over undulating pavement.
The interior is exceptionally well-appointed. Especially this particular model: smooth leather, rich mahogany trim, and the most spectacular rubberized composite for the plastic bits (no, really).
It could use better brakes. They stop the car well enough, but pedal feel is awfully squishy. And it's worse because the Sport GT package, which this particular car wears, reportedly includes braided stainless steel brake lines.
Probably the best thing about the car, aside from its sultry looks, is its exclusivity. It's not terribly expensive in the grand scheme of Italian exotics, but it isn't cheap either. And your friends are guaranteed to gawk, along with just about everyone else. It really isn't every day you see a Maserati. -Karl Funke
From The Hip+ Creamy smooth transmission with great manual capability, signature Italian style, elegant interior - soft brake pedal fee
2007 Maserati Quattroporte*LayoutLongitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive
4.2-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve
Peak Power: 400 hp @ 7000 rpm
Peak Torque: 340 lb-ft @ 4250 rpm
0-60 mph: 5.6 sec.
Top Speed: 168 mph
Fuel Economy: 13 city/18 hwy
Price as Tested: $129,000