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2005 Maserati Quattroporte Preview

2005 Maserati Quattroporte Preview

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2005 Maserati Quattroporte

FIRENZA, Italy: Until the wonderful new XJ model came along from Jaguar last summer, the Canadian luxury sedan market was the exclusive preserve of a cadre of German cars.

That handsome and talented British saloon car gave people reason to reconsider the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and sales for those two models suffered.

Now comes the 2005 Maserati Quattroporte, which takes the entire segment and vastly broadens its appeal. Look at it this way -- the 7-Series is an officer in a uniform (and an ill-fitting one at that), the S-Class is a banker in a four-button suit, the XJ is a middle-aged advertising executive in a sweater set and skirt, and the Quattroporte is a 30-something Italian woman in a summer dress.

This is an exceptionally important turn of events in this segment, since most of the people who shop here are looking for something that few other people have that also shows off their taste for the finer things in life. Since there have been no Quattroportes sold in Canada for more than a decade, that exclusivity is guaranteed, a claim that BMW and Mercedes and even Jaguar can't make.

On top of all this, it's going to count big with a lot of people that a Quattroporte is essentially a four-door Ferrari.

Ferrari wanted to broaden its portfolio and its profit potential a few years back, but it did not want to go the way Porsche went and add non-sportscars to its brand. So it bought the remnants of its 90-year-old cross-town Modena rival and used the Trident marque to build softer coupes and cabriolets on mostly Ferrari mechanicals. It took a little longer to construct a sedan using the same philosophy, but it will be here by fall.

The Maserati people like to say Quattroporte has luxury and performance souls and that they ''fuse in a single car, in which perfection doesn't merely mean flawless electronics and cold rationality. This is a car in which perfection is something warm, colourful, dynamic, beautiful and, more importantly, fun.''

A day under the Tuscan sun shows that to be exactly the reality of a QP. In the first place, it's simply a joy to behold, which is not something you can say about the German cars in this segment.