Walk along the streets of Milan wearing your most trendy 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 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. 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 and 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 dual-stage airbags, active headrests, tyre pressure monitoring system, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot alert, rear cross-path detection, and lane-departure and forward-collision warning systems, among others.

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.

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