The Maserati Quattroporte is a luxe barge that demands driving dedication
Revamped four-door Maserati is beautiful and made for speed The Maserati Quattroporte GranLusso is ideally sprung for high-speed travel, offering an unusual compromise in ride comfort and roadholding. ST PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER TAN

Long before cars such as the Porsche Panamera and Aston Martin Rapide, there was the Maserati Quattroporte. The model was created in 1963, marking the sportscar maker's foray into the world of four-door saloons (Quattroporte means "four doors" in Italian).

Like the two other sportscar brands which have followed suit, Maserati's aim is to carve itself a slice of the luxury limousine pie - a pie which has Mercedes S-class and BMW 7-series written all over it.

The latest sixth-generation Quattroporte has been given a mid-life revamp. In the GranLusso trim tested here, the car certainly exudes a charm that goes beyond the exotic appeal of its name.

To start with, its sheer road presence. As big as a long-wheelbase S-class, but lower slung, it is a difficult car to miss. It is also arguably more beautiful than the popular Panamera and roomier than the Rapide.

Its spaciousness is attributable to its extraordinary width and wheelbase (both exceeding the long- wheelbase S-class'). There is also more space in the boot than anyone who is not an Amazon Prime courier will need.

In terms of interior finery, the Quattroporte pips its rivals on all counts. The texture of its leather upholstery, the blend of polished metallic surfaces and wood veneer and even the feel of its roof lining surpass expectations.

There is warmth and ambience in the cabin, a quality that sometimes eludes the German luxe barges - even if they tend to have better finish and user-friendliness if you get down to the nitty-gritty.

For instance, the test-car's cabin lights need to be switched off manually each time you get into the car. And its navigation screen does not go into night mode when the sun sets, making it a little glaring.

But what is an Italian car without idiosyncracies? The Quattroporte has more unique propositions than quirks, of course.

Its inimitable growl is the first that comes to mind. It is not as booming as the Maserati Ghibli, with which it shares a 3-litre twin-turbo V6. Being a limousine, its exhaust is tuned to emit a muted roar that you can still appreciate, but which does not drown out conversation. The revised car has better insulation, but it is still not as quiet as the Germans'. Perhaps it is not meant to be.

Those who whine about how cloistered and uncommunicative cars have become should try the Quattroporte. The big Maserati moves and responds like an oversized old-school roadster.

Every indentation on the tarmac is transmitted to the steering wheel and every steering input is transmitted to the seats. At times, this is a little unsettling, especially for something that is 5.2m long, weighs 1.9 tonnes and ferries five.

It is a car that requires driver involvement and focus. Invest in both and the Quattroporte is adequately rewarding. While not stupendously fast, it is smooth (supposedly smoother than the pre-facelift version) and it has plenty of torque for the city as well as somewhere as fast-flowing as Malaysia's North-South Highway.

A trip to Ipoh and back proves its mettle. The car is ideally sprung for high-speed travel, offering an unusual compromise in ride comfort and roadholding. In town, it is amazingly nimble and precise for a car its size, although its width can be a liability in the Lilliputian lanes at the border checkpoints.

Aids such as adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning help take the edge off long journeys, while adaptive headlights make night-time driving less taxing (and less intrusive to other road users).

While you get motorised sunscreens and seat ventilation, there is no massage function. But you hardly notice because of the ample space, top-notch furnishing and clever connectivity which, among other things, starts playing music from your phone once it is paired.

A less definable quality lies in the way the car drives. At the wheel, you feel surprisingly engaged and alert whatever the distance. And yet, you are not overly fatigued when you arrive. Few cars guarantee both.