Maserati's recent announcement of a limited edition Royale variant for each of the remaining cars in its lineup had us pining not after a new Levante, but the long-running Quattroporte. It served to remind us of that model's 4.2-litre all-aluminium V8, the 406hp it produced, the 5.0-second 0 to 60mph it enabled and the 171mph top speed which it all culminated in.
Pair that performance with genuinely enjoyable driving dynamics and one of the most sumptuously appointed interiors you'll find in any saloon, and the result is a hugely desirable machine. At least, it was. While today's Quattroporte remains very stylish, it's fallen well behind its German rivals when it comes to interior design, tech and performance. The new V6 engine range can't match the backing vocals of that burbling V8, either.
But what to go for instead? The current Quattroporte is a little long in the tooth now, and even new Maseratis are hardly famed for their reliability, so older/ higher mileage cars may well be more of a match than usual. That said, there will be plenty of up to date options which fall within the six figure budget that the Maserati demands. Over to Sam and Matt to scour the PH classifieds for a viable alternative to the Fourdoor's seemingly unique blend of comfort and charisma.
Rules of Engagement
Price: Sub £105k
Mileage: Sub 30k
Driven wheels: Rear
Engine position: Front
Engine output: 350hp+
If it's engine character you're looking for, AMG's twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 is well equipped to deliver the goods. Especially when it's been turned up to eleven by the madmen at Brabus, who took the brooding W205 C63's motor and pumped its veins full of Bottrop steroids. Key ingredients were new turbos and an uprated ECU which, combined with the other features, catapulted peak power to 650hp - a gain of 140hp over the C63 S.
That places this old bruiser above the anticipated output of even the next-gen C63, a car that we doubt will be able to provide such charm from its engine bay due to the use of a hybrid four-cylinder. With no future supply of C-Class-based V8 models to pick from, it seems unlikely that Brabus's next enhanced C63 will lose any more appeal than Maserati's six-cylinder only specials.
Making this particular 650 even more special is the fact its seller claims it to be the only right-hand drive one in existence. With 26,000 miles on the clock, it's already lived a full live, making for all the more reason to get it out of the garage and enjoy it properly. Aka at full, tyre destroying chat.
Joker - BMW M5 (E28)
It'd be hard to top the drama on offer in Brabus's 650, unless you extend your search into the world of classics, that is. BMW's E28 M5 comes with godfather status, and the M88/3 straight-six under the bonnet has direct links to motorsport via the M1. It may no longer be the fastest saloon in the world, but it's certainly still one of the coolest. (SS)
Buyers pondering a Quattroporte, old or new, clearly care about the emotional side of luxury motoring. They'll be aware that a German alternative probably offers a more complete experience, but that will be by the by: they want drama, excitement and sense of occasion for their six-figure outlay, which might not be on offer from Audi, BMW or Mercedes.
Can't have a four-door Maserati? Buy a four-door Aston Martin. Simple. The Rapide S is better to look at than any Quattroporte, better sounding than any Quattroporte thanks to that glorious V12 and, most likely, better to drive, too, thanks to the architecture that underpinned those wonderful Astons of the 2000s. That means it's not the most spacious four-door ever, but see the original point: you want the best saloon, you don't buy a Maserati or an Aston.
This Rapide is an approved used 'Timeless' Aston, registered last year and showing just 3,923 miles. The spec is spot on, and it's £10k under budget - best of luck, Sam.
Joker - Bentley Mulsanne Speed
There are Mulsannes that comply with these Wheels of Fortune criteria, and a tempting alternative it was. Ultimately the Rapide's additional dynamism won out in this duel, but what a way to travel the big Bentley must be. The consummate luxury saloon, and one that will be sorely missed. (MB)
Well I didn't think I'd find myself saying this, but Sam wins. Just kidding. He would have done if he'd stuck with the car he first chose before having his head turned by that 650, his original pick having been the very same Rapide that Matt eventually settled on. Them's the breaks.
A tarmac-crimping powerhouse the Brabus may be, but as an alternative to the stylish sophistication of the Maserati, it can't compete with the Aston. Nor can its V8 truly stand comparison to that fabulous V12. Of course, however, the only judgement that really counts is your own, so be sure to let us know which car you'd have picked...