As I mash the throttle pedal, the new-gen 530hp twin-turbo V8 spools quickly and hurls the super-sedan to 60mph in about 4.7sec. We're lapping the undulating road course at the Fiat Group's historic Balocco proving grounds in Italy. The track has smooth pavement, considerable elevation change and a variety of corners and straights.

The immaculate pavement can't tell us much about the Quattroporte's rough-road ride, but confirms its performance, balance and sporting nature.

Maserati places the engine relatively low in the chassis, and as far back as the firewall will allow, yielding 50/50 weight distribution in the V8 (51/49 for the upcoming V6).

Another important new feature is an under-floor fuel tank that aids balance and center of gravity. It previously sat behind the rear seats, eating too much trunk space.

The new Quattroporte turns-in smartly, stays put and handles neutrally through corners at any speed. The steering is well boosted and the wheel feels meaty in your hands, communicating the passage of the 20" rolling stock and front suspension.

The ride quality is on the firm side of luxurious, with Maserati's Skyhook adaptive damping constantly adjusting the shocks based on a wide variety of vehicle and driver inputs.

Of course, it wouldn't be an Italian car unless it sounded great and while it doesn't have the urgent blare of the old 4.7L, the new motor developed with Ferrari and built in Maranello still sounds deep and purposeful.

The new QP gets ZF's latest eight-speed multi-mode automatic transmission that gives you standard Drive, Sport Drive, plus full manual control via paddles. Even when hot lapping, we were content to let it shift itself, flawlessly interpreting our commands, serving up the appropriate gear when we wanted it, crisply and firmly.

Lorenzo Ramaciotti, Head of Maserati's Design Center, broke it down: "The new Quattroporte is a high-performance luxury sports sedan that reinterprets the features of classic Maseratis in a contemporary language. Its style was born from the guiding design principles of Maserati: harmony of shapes, dynamism of lines and Italian elegance.

"Some of the characteristic elements of the previous model have been retained, such as the front grille, the side vents and triangular C-pillar. At the same time, new features were introduced like the strong belt line that runs through the side of the car, giving the Quattroporte a look and feel that is at once muscular and elegant, with frameless doors and three side windows."

It's not cost effective for a company of Maserati's size to develop long- and short-wheelbase models, so the trick was to increase the rear passenger area without adding too much weight. Somehow the design team successfully maintained the earlier car's visual balance and proportion. Although the new model is larger and longer, the flat front fender and hood lines, plus the short rear deck area, avoid the look of a limousine.

The new interior is simply fabulous. All of the switchgear and infotainment has been rethought and now resembles high-end electronics. The seats are wrapped in Italian leather, and you can accent this with wood, metal or carbon fiber trim.

The optional V6 AWD will make the QP more versatile in wet climes and the larger rear cabin should appeal to markets like Russia and China.

The 2013 Maserati Quattroporte is better in every way than its much-admired predecessor. So if you and some friends have a long way to go and a short time to get there, the new Quattroporte will transport you in comfort, safety and supreme Italian style. It will be available in US this Spring.

2013 Maserati Quattroporte

Layout front-engine, rear-wheel drive

Engine 3798cc V8 DOHC 48v, twin intercooled sequential turbos, variable cam timing, direct injection, aluminum alloy block and heads

Drivetrain eight-speed ZF multi-mode automatic with paddle shifters

Suspension upper and lower control arms f, multi link independent r; Skyhook continuously variable damping

Wheels & Tires 20x8.5" f, 20x10.5" r wheels, 245/40 R20 f, 285/35 R20 r tires

Exterior aluminum and steel panels and structure

Performance

Power 523hp @ 6500-6800rpm

Torque 479 lb-ft @ 2000-4000rpm (524 lb-ft in overboost)

0-60mph 4.6sec

Top Speed 191mph

Weight 4191 lb

Economy n/a

MSRP n/a

By Matt Stone
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