- Beautiful design and the appeal of the Maserati trident badge
- Thrilling driving dynamics
- It sounds as good as it drives
- Hard plastic surrounding the touchscreen lowers the tone
- Paddle shifts are huge and get in the way of the indicator stalk
- Sensors are very sensitive and scream at you when there is nothing particularly close
Think of the Maserati name and it conjures up all sorts of images of svelte-like cars that looked amazing but were definitely out of the reach of the masses without a six-number lottery win. But that all changed when the four-door Ghibli was launched. It became the car to rival executive saloons such as the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6 and Mercedes E-Class.
And the sales soared as a result with more than 70,000 Ghibli models sold since its launch in 2014.
A raft of improvements have made their way into the latest car including engine and gearbox updates, styling tweaks, upgraded safety systems as well as upgraded sound proofing. There are also two new trims called GranLusso and GranSport with an emphasis on luxury or racing performance.
On The Road
We tested the Ghibli GranLusso powered by a Ferrari-sourced 3.0-litre V6 petrol-driven engine delivering 350hp and a whopping 500Nm of torque. It’s a car that can power its way to 62mph from a standing start in 5.5 seconds and maxes out at 166mph.
The acceleration through the eight-speed gearbox is swift and smooth with the option of steering wheel mounted paddles if you fancy taking a little more control. These paddles are huge – more like oars – and I found the left one that is used to change down through the gears was constantly in the way of the indicator stalk.
When it comes to driving capabilities though the Maserati is a great all-round performer. It’s sharp, responsive and has an engine and exhaust note that compliments its dynamic handling.
The road-holding is assured and the rear-wheel-drive car can be pushed hard into tight bends with confidence. In wet weather it seemed a little more twitchy, but in dry conditions it’s great fun to power through the country lanes.
There are three driving modes to switch through called Normal, Sport and ICE which stands of Increased Control and Efficiency, which alter the car’s responses.
Maserati has worked tirelessly to improve the Ghibli’s handling and that work has certainly paid off. Along with the Quattroporte, it is the first model to adopt the Integrated Vehicle Control system by Bosche. It sounds complicated but in layman’s terms the system prevents vehicle instability and that in turn enhances safety and improves the driving dynamics.
Another first on this car is the Electric Power Steering, which again improves the Ghibli’s handling while retaining the razor-sharp steering feel that Maserati is renowned for.
On the downside, the car will let you know when it hits a bump or dip and rather fidgets on uneven surfaces thanks to the firm suspension. And that gets far worse when it’s really wet.
On motorways, the Ghibli seemed to glide along eating up the miles for fun and then in busy villages and town centres, it actually proved deceptively agile for a car weighing just shy of two tonnes. On country lanes, it’s one for the thrill seekers, but your nerves will be tested as the roads narrow because the Ghibli is wider than its rivals measuring 1.94 metres across (the E Class is 1.8 metres wide as is the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class).
The test car was riding high on stunning 20-inch alloys with diamond finish rims and they suited the car perfectly. They are the finishing touch to one of the most attractive executive saloons on offer. And that’s a statement I can back up simply by the attention the car demanded during my week-long test drive. I was constantly questioned about the Ghibli’s performance – it’s a car that just cannot be ignored.
And the interior is just as impressive with GranLusso model featuring exclusive materials and special features in the finest tradition of Italian craftsmanship. For example, the Ermenegildo Zegna Silk interior features patented mulberry silk inserts on the seats, door panels, roof lining and ceiling light fixture. There are tailored seats, open-pore wood trim, comfort seats with 12-way power adjustment, soft closing doors and a whole lot more.
At high motorway speeds the cabin is beautifully refined with only the raspy exhaust note and engine tones filtering through into the cabin when driven in Sport mode. Accelerate particularly hard and the rumble becomes more like a roar acting as a not-so-subtle reminder that this is a Maserati powered by a beast of a V6 engine. Switch back to normal and ease off the throttle a little and the refined character is restored.
The test car also featured the optional Skyhook electronic damping control (£2,045 extra) that allows you to firm up the suspension even further for Sport mode or switch back to normal for a more comfortable ride.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
With the 12-way power adjustable seats along with a power-adjustable steering wheel, it’s quick and easy to find your perfect driving position behind the wheel of the Ghibli GranLusso. The seats can be cooled or heated and the steering wheel can be warmed against the bitter winter chill.
The soft close doors are a nice touch and the car is generously equipped with all the latest infotainment systems. There is an 8.4-inch touchscreen which offers full smartphone compatibility via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The test car began life costing £62,730 but a host of optional packs and features bumped the price up to £76,600. One add-on was the 15-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system costing £2,545 and this delivered pitch perfect sound quality throughout the cabin.
Elsewhere there are more subtle touches such as the Maserati timepiece complete with the trident emblem.
All the controls are ideally positioned for driver usability and the steering column-mounted paddle shifts are great fun if you fancy taking more control of the transmission switches. They are huge though and I found they did get in the way quite a lot, especially when trying to quickly flick the indicator stalk.
All-round visibility is good but not fantastic (like most of its rivals to be fair). The dynamic streamlined design results in limited over the shoulder views, but the car is fitted with parking sensors and there is blind spot monitoring too.
Space & Practicality
The Ghibli GranLusso provides vast amounts of front legroom and despite its coupe-like design, there is ample head and elbow room in the back for two adults. However, the Ghibli is a scaled down version of its larger Quattroporte stablemate. It’s 293mm shorter and that means rear passengers miss out on the limousine style legroom especially if the front seats are pushed back. In addition, the sloping rear windows can make life in the back a tad claustrophobic. Although there is room for three in the back in theory, the sculpted outer seats will be the ones of choice, with the middle one more like a raised perch.
On the practicality front, the boot has a powered lid and can accommodate 500 litres of luggage with 60:40 split folding rear seats increasing that capacity. In addition, there are plenty of handy storage options throughout the car, such as a generously-sized glovebox, deep door pockets and a large central console between the front seats that houses two cup holders, a 12v power socket, USB and aux-in sockets, and a compartment for mobile phones.
So, onto the finer details then – how much of a dent will the Maserati Ghibli GranLusso make in your savings? The answer is quite a large one. The test car was priced at £62,730 although a number of options saw the cost rise to £76,600. But it’s worth remembering, the car is competing in an executive market and it has that Maserati exclusivity about it.
When it comes to economy, the Ghibli GranLusso powered by the 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine delivers combined fuel economy of 31.7mpg with carbon emissions of 257g/km. This would mean owners would face a Vehicle Excise Duty cost of £1,760 for the first tax year and £140 after that.
Obviously, our test car was fully loaded with all the optional extras and packs imaginable, but it’s worth noting that an entry-level model comes in at £52,895 – not a bad price to pay for the privilege of owning a Maserati.
Quality & Reliability
The petrol engines powering the Ghibli are designed by Maserati but built by Ferrari so it would be fair to say the performance is pretty much guaranteed on that front. Choose a diesel-powered car and you will be getting a modified version of the engine that powers the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which has a good reputation for reliability.
The Maserati is beautifully crafted – it looks and feels elegant, sophisticated and refined with excellent driver ergonomics. The switchgear appears to be solid and the seats are very supportive. I did think the hard plastic surrounding the touchscreen system looked a little cheap and might be prone to scratching, but that aside, the Ghibli should survive the test of time.
The car also comes with the reassurance of a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty.
Safety & Security
The Maserati Ghibli is packed to bursting with safety systems and driver assist features. In addition, the test car was supplied with a Driver Assistance Plus Pack costing £2,450 extra. This added Highway Assist which keeps the car planted in the centre of its lane at motorway cruising speeds and works in conjunction with the adaptive cruise control. It also added Active Blind Spot Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Traffic Sign Recognition.
Other safety systems Maserati buyers can expect to find include Advanced Brake Assist, Autonomous Emergency Braking, a rear-view camera with dynamic lines, a surround view camera, rear cross path alert, tyre pressure monitoring, stability control and lots more besides.
The Ghibli secured the maximum five stars when it was tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating.