First drive: Maserati Quattroporte S

* Quattroporte S tested * New 4.7-litre engine * Costs £85,000...

11 July 2008

If you've seen the pictures and fallen in love with the Quattroporte S, get down to your local Maserati dealer quickly, because the queue's growing faster than one at a Kylie kissing booth.

It's hardly surprising, because the S is just £6000 more than the standard model, but comes with a new grille and lights, more standard equipment and significantly more power, thanks to a larger, 4.7-litre engine - 500cc bigger than the standard car.

The changes have turned the Quattroporte from leggy Tourer to vampish four-door GT.

The V8 S sits firmly in super-quick territory, and it sounds great, too. It also annihilates most rivals for sheer driving pleasure, simply because its engine is so free-revving and its power delivery so linear.

Equally, the steering, although light, has an accuracy and a delicacy that's difficult to imagine being bettered.

The S is also extremely responsive and feels absolutely secure through long, sweeping bends.

The slightly rear-biased weight distribution does mean that the front end feels rather light under heavy braking, and the nose is inclined to run a wee bit wide if you're exuberant through tight hairpins. Nonetheless, the S is incredibly agile for such a large car.

Even so, there's no disguising its sheer bulk. At just under two tonnes, the twin-mode adaptive suspension - it can be set for sport or comfort - does its best to keep things under control, but there's still the suspicion that the ride will be bit brittle for UK roads.

Of course, the £85,000 S is not cheap. It's also nowhere near as refined, spacious, comfortable or as well built as a Mercedes S-Class, but boy, it's a damned sight prettier.

• The Maserati Quattroporte S goes on sale in September.