By JIM PARKER

The Post and Courier

The new-look Italian sedan and its mouthful of a name was in high demand last week.

On a national tour, two 2014 Maserati Quattroportes were to visit the Charleston area for a one-day viewing. But at the last minute, the S Q4 model with V-6 engine producing 404 horsepower and with a starting price of $105,000 was whisked away to a major sporting event, the Kentucky Derby.

That still left a formidable edition, the spiffed up GTS with V-8 engine generating 523 hp, an eight-speed automatic transmission and sport mode. The GTS, available for $140,000 and up, was on display May 1 at Baker Maserati on Savannah Highway.

The pair of new, luxury four-doors (Quattroporte, incidentally, means four door in Italian) are pre-production models fresh from major car shows in New York and Geneva, Switzerland. “They are getting to every dealer in the country” to whet the interest of people in the market for super-luxury cars, said Doug Smith, “QP ambassador” for the prototype models.

“This is more aggressively styled than the previous generation,” he said. A motorsports-style grille with vertical bars and familiar trident emblem harken back to Maserati’s racing heritage. Also distinguishing the sedan are LED front lights, 21-inch wheels and metallic beige exterior.

Complementing the outside look is a “light beige” leather interior with Ash Burl wood panel accents. Inside features further include a leather steering wheel, Bowers and Wilkins audio system, climate controls front and back, navigation and communications system, DVR screens for the back seats, trays that pull out for rear seat passengers and buttons in back that move the front seats forward for more space.

“Basically, it kind of offers a sporty elegance,” Smith said. There’s “definitely an Italian flair,” he said.

Initial editions for sale are expected to arrive in the U.S. in late summer, Smith said.

The 2014 Quattroporte launch signals the first time in eight years that Maserati has shaken up the design. Among new features are the turbo-charged engines and available all-wheel-drive, said Smith, who is based in Atlanta.

At least going by how fast the cars can move, the beefed-up power plants deliver. The V-6 posts a top speed of 176 mph and the V-8 a racecar-like 191 mph while traveling from 0-60 in 4.6 seconds, according to Maserati.

“If you need to get somewhere (with) luxury and sport, it’s got you covered,” Smith said.

It’s not just performance where Maserati has fine-tuned the Quattroporte. There’s a much more ample trunk than in the past, said Robert C. Hellebush, sales associate at Baker Maserati on Savannah Highway. The larger storage area stemmed from the lukewarm response to the present model’s small trunk. Standard equipment in the cargo center is a car cover to keep the model protected from the elements when not in use.

Sometime later this year or in early 2014, Maserati plans to roll out a Quattroporte GT coupe-convertible in a similar price range to the GTS.

“There are high hopes this car going to really take a fair share of the marketplace,” Smith said.

For more information and photos, visit www.postandcourier.com/automotive.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.