I too consider myself one of the more hard-core automotive enthusiasts, and share the prejudice against automatics in all but luxury-oriented cars. However, we must recognize that automatic transmission technology has come a long way. Get this: The automatic-equipped Porsche Turbo is quicker to 60 mph than the manual-equipped car! I think that's a first, but it's a sign that these six and seven speed slushboxes with lightning-fast gear-changes and optional manual actuation are now at least a viable alternative. Car and Driver, a magazine known as the enthusiasts' magazine, and surely a group with more sporting preferences, reviewed the QP automatic and said something to the effect that it should have had that transmission all along.
Without getting too serious, I think those of us who enjoy the CambioCorsa technology are kidding ourselves in thinking that the gap between the most sporting automatic transmission and our set up is that large. Its certainly shrinking. Thus, the Quattroporte, a large five-passenger car designed to be a sporting sedan, all things being equal, is probably better off with the automatic (assuming it can be manually actuated). Just my two cents.
I would agree with that statement up to a point. If you see the Quattroporte for what it is, I don't agree with the auto gearbox, as I think Maserati intended the QP to be a different sport sedan than a BMW, Merc, Audi, or Jag for that matter. It intended the QP to be a drivers car, not a luxe sedan, which can, once in while, be hustled and the driver can be tricked into thinking he controls the gearbox flapping some paddles, or jercking the gear selector. If you drive a QP to substitute for any sport luxe sedan and only have chosen the QP because of styling, maybe even engine or set up, or just to stand out of the crowed I agree with the QP having a automatic transmission, as you have clearly chosen the Maserati more for vanity than enthusiasm. (No pun intended, just substitute "you" for "one")
I agree that the auto trannys did come a long way and that they do a better job than a large percentage of drivers out there would with a manual. Especially in the good olde US of A. However, for us "enthusiasts" the DuoSelect is the choice to go with, as it truly does what a transmission is supposed to do - SHIFT - not THINK and DECIDE for the driver. For the unfortunate event your cell phone rings while driving - there is always the silver button in the top left corner!
The only reason that Maserati chose to have an auto tranny offered for the QP is to increase sales and to appeal to a broader customer base. The car is better with the DS. At least in my opinion.
Whatever Maserati you choose, as long as you choose it for the right reason and are aware of what you get yourself into with owning a Maserati - you will be happy and never regret your choice!