ROAD TEST: MASERATI QUATTROPORTE

I spent the weekend with a seductive Italian--masculine but not macho, and as chic as a GQ model in an Armani suit. I'm talking, of course, about the Maserati Quattroporte. Zooming on a Santa Barbara, Calif., freeway and armed with 400 horses in a 4.2-liter, V-8 engine, I thought that if it had wings, it could have taken off. But this is no garden-variety sports car. With four doors, it's also a stylish family sedan--I suppose, if your name is Michael Schumacher.

Designed by Pininfarina, the famed Italian auto-engineering firm, this fifth-generation Quattroporte handles tight and sticks beautifully to the road on 18-inch wheels. Shifting is a little jerky through a sequential manual gearbox accessed by chrome-plated paddles behind the steering wheel, similar to those on Formula One racecars. I thought a manual shift or even an automatic transmission would have been smoother. But I like how sportiness yields to luxe on the inside, with creamy leather seating and a deeply grained and lacquered dark-wood dashboard. Gauges are azure by day and magically turn green and red when lit at night. Back-seat riders get airline-style reclining seats, though those seats could have been a bit more plush. No matter. The Quattroporte is so handsome, I would thrill for another weekend together.

Tip: For a few thou more, customize to match this spring's lime-colored shoes.

ROAD TEST: MASERATI QUATTROPORTE | News