Maserati adds even more dis­tinc­tion and ex­clu­siv­ity to its flag­ship sa­loon by of­fer­ing de­signer el­e­ments in the in­te­rior. wheels’ Sony Thomas gets fash­ion­able be­hind its wheel... sort of

Friday - - Motoring -

Walk along the streets of Mi­lan wear­ing your most trendi­est out­fit, and still you’ll be made to feel woe­fully out­moded. Italy does that to you. The same goes for Ital­ian cars. You might have the most ex­pen­sive au­to­mo­bile on earth, but park it next to an Ital­ian car, and sud­denly your über-lux­ury ride looks passé. When Maserati took the wraps off its first Qu­at­tro­porte in 1963, this was ex­actly what it did to all the lux­ury sa­loons in the world. Boast­ing a race-bred en­gine and oo­dles of Ital­ian styling flair, the Qu­at­tro­porte was the world’s fastest sa­loon at the time. Even to­day, the Mo­dena car­maker’s flag­ship sets it­self apart from the rest of the crop, which has eminent names like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the BMW 7 Se­ries, Audi A8 and the Jaguar XJ. But at that level, cus­tomers can af­ford to be so de­mand­ing that sat­is­fy­ing ev­ery­one’s re­quests for ex­clu­siv­ity is im­pos­si­ble with just a stan­dard model or two. While ev­ery other man­u­fac­turer now of­fers a wide ar­ray of per­son­al­i­sa­tion op­tions, Maserati has gone a step ahead and en­listed ace Ital­ian de­sign house Ermenegildo Zegna to ap­point the Qu­at­tro­porte’s in­te­rior. As part of the Gran Lusso trim, the as­so­ci­a­tion with Zegna brings Ital­ian silk appointments on the seats, doors, head­lin­ing and sun vi­sors, as well as special colours and ma­te­ri­als to the Qu­at­tro­porte’s in­te­rior. Maserati says this makes it the only brand in the world to fea­ture be­spoke silk in a car’s cabin. Other Gran Lusso trap­pings in­clude a wood and leather steer­ing wheel, wood trim on the dash­board and doors, power ad­just­ment for foot ped­als, an elec­tri­cally con­trolled rear sun­screen, four-zone cli­mate con­trol, and heated rear seats. There are a few dis­tin­guish­ing fea­tures on the out­side too, in­clud­ing chrome bumper in­serts, body-coloured sideskirts, black brake cal­lipers and 20in Mer­cu­rio wheels.

Get­ting into a COM­FORT­ABLE driv­ing po­si­tion doesn’t take much time thanks to the 12-WAY power-ad­justable driver’s seat; the STEER­ING wheel is also eas­ily AD­JUSTABLE for rake and reach

While the touch of silk adds to the cabin’s over­all re­fine­ment, even with­out it, the Qu­at­tro­porte’s cabin is a huge im­prove­ment over the pre­vi­ous model’s. Clean and un­clut­tered in lay­out, the crafts­man­ship is also top-notch, with the wood, leather and fab­ric all meld­ing to cre­ate an air of so­phis­ti­ca­tion. It’s all well put to­gether too, with none of the creaks or squeaks that used to come from joints in the ear­lier ver­sion of the car.

Get­ting into a com­fort­able driv­ing po­si­tion doesn’t take much time thanks to the 12-way power-ad­justable driver’s seat; the steer­ing wheel is also eas­ily ad­justable for rake and reach. The 3.0-litre V6 in our test car comes to life with a ma­cho growl but soon set­tles to a muted purr. It is no match for the glo­ri­ously wail­ing 3.8-litre V8 in the GTS, but is still a po­tent pow­er­plant, churn­ing out 404bhp and 550Nm of torque. The eight-speed auto box is im­pres­sively pre­cise in its shifts, with even crisper re­sponses when you take con­trol via the steer­ing-mounted pad­dle shifters. The Qu­at­tro­porte comes equipped with an auto-adap­tive soft­ware that ap­par­ently mod­i­fies the gear shift pat­tern in ac­cor­dance with the way the car is be­ing driven by each in­di­vid­ual driver. The car’s over­all be­hav­iour can be al­tered by the driver by se­lect­ing from be­tween Nor­mal, Sport and ICE (In­creased Con­trol and Ef­fi­ciency) modes. Even in Nor­mal mode, the Qu­at­tro­porte isn’t as pli­ant in ride qual­ity as an S-Class or a 7 Se­ries. But that mod­icum of stiff­ness adds to the over­all trace of viril­ity that is miss­ing from its ri­vals. Se­lect Sport and the Sky­hook sus­pen­sion sys­tem, with its con­tin­u­ous damp­ing vari­a­tion, strikes a splen­did bal­ance be­tween com­fort and dy­nam­ics. It also comes equipped with a raft of safety fea­tures, in­clud­ing six du­al­stage airbags, tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem, adap­tive cruise con­trol, blind-spot alert, rear cross­path de­tec­tion, and lane-de­par­ture and for­ward-col­li­sion warn­ing sys­tems. The 2017 Qu­at­tro­porte is a dis­tinct up­grade over the pre­vi­ous ver­sion, and stands out even more from the com­pe­ti­tion with its Al­fieri-in­spired looks, although the rear is still a bit unin­spir­ing. But if you’re some­one look­ing for even more dis­tinc­tion in your lux­ury sa­loon, the new Gran Lusso with its de­signer touches will be right up your posh al­ley.

Special silk fab­ric from Zegna and wood trim add to the cabin’s over­all air of so­phis­ti­ca­tion

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