There’s a certain sort of European car aficianado that will forever blame the Americas for the excision of a rather distinctive set of rear light clusters. The clusters in question belonged to the Maserati Coupé and were a delicious boot-edge hugging boomerang, loved by reviewers on the EU side of the pond but, thanks to a poor showing in US popularity research, were replaced by frankly dull slabs of red tinted plastic. At the time, Maserati was reasonably apologetic about it, but the obvious lure of a spreading market dangled dollar signs in front of Italian eyes.
Niche, you see, is cool but not especially lucrative – particularly when you’re owned by Ferrari and are inevitably seen as the loss-leading mass market option. So it must be to accountants’ dismay and enthusiasts delight that the Maserati Quattroporte is still a rare sight on roads anywhere.
A four-door behemoth, snouty and sleek, forced along the road by a 4.2l V8 inside which they’ve managed to squish 400 feisty horses, the Quattroporte offered an interesting alternative to the capable-but-bland Mercedes S-Class, “Best Buy on wheels” BMW 7 Series or any number of wannabe-luxury American SUV pretenders (memo to all: rouched leather does not a quality car make. Few plutocrats want to drive round inside of a petrol-powered labia). Come 2006 and they’ve fettled it a little further, shoeing it with fancy low-profile tyres and gluing on “Sport GT” badges.
As Jeremy Clarkson and The Truth About Cars cannot help but remind you, the awkward paddle gearshift is still, well, awkward. Perhaps save off your $115k purchase until the new automatic version arrives. But please, let that be the only concession to populus opinion – leave the supercar handling in place, don’t dare flood the restrained interior with gauche cupholders. Because there are a fair few people with memories of light clusters who are just waiting for an excuse to start complaining.