Stunning saloon is great to drive, but pricey
- Elegant styling
- Prestigious appeal
- Great to drive
- Interior quality lacking
- Expensive to buy
- Equally expensive to run
- Rear space limited
The nameplate might be familiar – it dates back to 1966 – but the Maserati Ghibli ushered in a number of firsts for the proud and heritage-laden company when it arrived in 2014. Using the larger Quattroporte’s chassis, it’s the first time the company has produced two four-door saloons at the same time, and more tellingly it was also the first Maserati with a diesel engine.
The Ghibli is up against some fierce rivals though, in the shape of the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi A6 and Jaguar XF - all very capable executive saloons that cost a significant amount less than the Ghibli to start with.
There are three engines available for the Ghibli; two twin-turbo V6 petrol engines supplied by Ferrari and a 3.0-litre single turbo V6 diesel bought in from Italian engine-builder VM Motori. You can choose between 350hp and 430hp versions of the petrol engines, but both will sprint from 0-62mph in around five seconds and sound glorious as they do so thanks to active exhaust valves.
Unfortunately, despite the Maserati Active Sound System, which also uses valves in the exhaust to enhance the noise under higher throttle inputs, the diesel can’t match its petrol brethren for aural drama (though in truth it does sound as good if not better than many diesel rivals), but does offer impressive performance.
It’s one of the most powerful single-turbo 3.0-litre diesels on the market, with 275hp and 600Nm of torque, the latter produced from only 2,000rpm; offering more shove than either of the more powerful petrols.
The 0-62mph sprint is completed in 6.3 seconds, with every shift from the eight-speed automatic gearbox completed smoothly and quickly. Only when pulling away from rest can the ‘box get confused and feel jerky, as well as in stop-start traffic. We also found it’s very easy to put the car straight into Park when, in fact, we were after reverse.
The range of V6 powerplants means the Ghibli isn’t as reasonable to run as some of its cheaper rivals, especially in petrol form, but that also goes some way to explaining why the Ghibli is more expensive to buy in the first place. More power, more drama and more exclusivity.
Agile chassis, agile design
Maserati is renowned for its GT cars, and while the Ghibli sports four doors it has been deliberately styled to be recognisable as a sporting four-door coupe. That means the roofline is 20mm lower than the Quattroporte it shares its chassis with, while the overall length is 290mm shorter. Extra width on the front and rear tracks adds to the car’s aggressive stance.
That said, it does sport a disproportionally long nose in relation the incredibly short bootlid, which looks stunted from some angles. Still, on the move the Ghibli looks wonderfully mean and distinctive, even more so after its 2017 facelift, not least thanks to the prominent grille and aggressively sharp headlights.
All but the diesel (51:49) sport a 50:50 weight distribution for agile handling, and adaptive ‘Skyhook’ suspension is an option on particular models. Whatever model you buy (there’s a choice of regular Ghibli, as well as GranLusso and GranSport) you’ll find a mechanical limited-slip differential for greater rear traction, and on the road the Ghibli generates plenty of grip.
Quick direction changes are little problem, and it’s easy to forget just how much car you are throwing around – nearly two tonnes. Bodyroll is noticeable at extreme cornering angles, but overall it's incredibly well controlled and ride comfort at faster speeds is comparable to the best in the l.
Bold, beautifully trimmed and comfortable interiors – along with that analogue clock – have been a feature of all Maseratis and to a degree, the Ghibli is no different. Those used to Fiat and Chrysler group products will recognise some minor switchgear (as well as the touchscreen infotainment system) from lower-rent products, and some poor quality plastics do make an appearance with surprising regularity.
However, certain areas are done very well, with supple and soft Italian leather upholstery, an Alcantara headlining and real carbonfibre for the centre console (a pricey option) and centre of the steering wheel rim. The aluminium gearshift paddles behind it are a joy to use, and bring with them the benefit of increased control of the gearbox.
The front seats are seriously comfortable though, especially if you specify the eight-way power adjustment, but the heavily sculpted rear bench is tight for legroom and really only suitable for two people thanks to the high transmission tunnel. At least the 500-litre boot is competitive, though the small opening may limit the size of some intended cargo.
The Parkers Verdict
If you’re considering a Ghibli then you’ll need the thick end of £50,000, and a few choice option boxes ticked will tickle that ticket price beyond £60,000. That’s a lot of money, and crucially one of this car’s biggest problems – rivals such as the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class and Jaguar XF can offer similar performance, efficiency, equipment and appeal for a lot less.
That said, few are as distinctive, or command such romanticism around the badge, so if you want to stand out with your executive car choice then we wouldn’t chastise you for choosing the Italian.
Read on for the full Maserati Ghibli review