First Drive: 2009 Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT S

Maserati is on a roll. 2008 was the company's best year ever, with a rather impressive 8586 sales worldwide. North America sucked up 2666 of those deliveries, a 1.1% increase compared to 2007. That's pretty extraordinary considering the economic collapse that came about during latter part of 2008. The Quattroporte sedan made up 3383 of the total 2008 worldwide sales, bumping the total number of fifth-generation four-doors sold over the 15,000 mark. To fully appreciate that last number, you have to remember that Maserati only sold 53 of the third-generation 1987-1990 Quattroporte and 825 of the 1998-2002 fourth-generation model.

Part of the success of the Quattroporte is due to Maserati's continued development of the car throughout its product cycle. When we first drove the Italian four-door, we complained about the cumbersome DuoSelect automated manual transmission. The company listened and finally introduced a ZF-supplied conventional six-speed automatic transmission in early 2007. We also asked for larger, more powerful brakes and our wish was granted with an interesting dual-cast aluminum hub/iron rotor option supplied by Brembo. In the March 2007 issue of Automobile Magazine, European bureau chief George Kacher wrote the Maserati should install the larger, 4.7-liter V-8 used in the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione in the Quattroporte. Like magic, a slightly detuned, 425-hp version was installed in the 2009 Quattroporte S while the standard Quattroporte continued on with the 400-hp, 4.2-liter V-8.

New for 2009 is the installation of the larger engine into the sportiest Quattroporte, the Sport GT S. This slightly more powerful, stiffer, and more driver-focused sedan was more than enough reason to hop on a plane to Modena, Italy.

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