Luxury Sports Sedan
When you hear the name Maserati many notions come to mind, Italian, stylish, drama, flare, and a distinct engine howl that only one or two other manufactures come anywhere near but still cannot imitate. The Maserati Ghilbi is the starting point to the Maserati range and is named after an African Wind pronounced Gib – lee. It is a welcome addition to a German dominated sector for mid-size saloons. The Ghibli is now entering its 3rd generation and was unveiled at the Shanghai Motor show in 2013
Before you open the door to the Ghibli the unmistakable styling of Maserati is readily apparent. The long sweeping lines from the shark nose grill across the bonnet that curves beautifully outwards across the wheel arches gives a curvaceous yet muscular presence. Not as severe as the GT or as rich in stature as the Quattroporte and that is because it is not meant to be. This is a Ghibli and the styling is measured precisely for this size of car and market it is aimed at. Maserati’s trade mark scepter is found on the rear wings with the last lines of the car rising quite high giving it hips and trails right into the boot line. Walk around the Ghibli and leaving aside door sills and such this is a car that has hardly any straight lines in the design whatsoever. It is pleasure just to look at
The Ghibli SQ4 we have has come with the top of the range featuring Ermenegildo Zegna interior package options that involve Poltrona Frau leather with real silk inserts on the seats, door panels, roof lining, sunshades, and the ceiling light. It is beautifully done and no wonder Ermeneglido Zegna is a Italian fashion house founded in 1910 is in its fourth generation and still family owned. When not making suits for its own brands they Ermeneglido Zegna make suits for Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Dunhill and Tom Ford. As the time passed during the road test the effect of Ermeneglido Zegna went from making the Ghibli a nice place to be to a place you wanted to be. The Infotainment as usual connects via USB, Headphone jack, & bluetooth. All the basics are covered with the option for WiFi hotspot and has a B&W speaker option that sounds as you would expect brilliant. Rear passenger space is not as generous as it could be and the boot is in the same vein but both are adequate and do not distract from being an everyday useable 4 seater family saloon. Some will notice familiar buttons and indicator stalks of such from the Fiat Chrysler Groups parts department that have been used in the Ghibli. Firstly which car manufacture doesn’t make the most of its range and second we thank them for it, how else could you make a Maserati available in this segment.
Placing both hands on the steering wheel the trident symbol of Maserati is staring back at you a stark reminder of the driving experience to come. Two large metal gear change levers are for a change connected to the center column and have a reassuring smooth crafted feel to them as opposed to PlayStation buttons that accompany most. The center of the dash board serves as a digital screen with the speedometer and RPM counter on either side. The armrest is split in two and opens upwards to reveal a deep air conditioned area with connections for phones and contours for holding drinks. When closed it becomes a natural rest for your arm leaning nicely on to the shifter. As a driver it feels like a sports car but with sport saloon usability
The Drive train
The Ghibli comes with a range of power options and for the first time a diesel. The engine is always the 3.0 V6 Twin turbo but the versions in power are significant. The base model provides 330hp to the rear wheels and the SQ4 410hp to all 4 wheels. A quick depress of the start button and a glorious and unmistakable sound of a Maserati enters the cabin. Pulling away in traffic and the torque normally associated with larger engines becomes very evident. It is quite remarkable considering this is large car powered by only 3.0 engine. If on a blindfolded test and knowing it was a V6 we would of voted for 3.5 to 3.8 given the natural feel of engine capacity under the right foot. The Ghibli achieves this with a turbocharger per cylinder bank, twin intercoolers and direct injection. The ride comes from electronic dampers with two options sport or normal. Sport mode sends the car into a prancing stallion with attitude, by far one of the most dramatic changes we have encountered with a single button. Interesting enough you don’t have to have sports suspension activated with sports mode. Both can work independently of each other a joy for longer drives but with sport response. The gearbox sends all 410 horses to all 4 wheels via an 8 speed transmission and the AWD system keeps things where you need them to be
The Road test
The Anatara resort Qasar Al Sarab lies deep in the Liwa desert some 308 kilometers from Dubai. A fitting drive with different types of driving required. The Ghibli makes easy work of a long distance, the ride is noticeably pleasant and comfortable. Reaching smaller roads it’s time to engage sport mode with sport suspension. The change from the gearbox selecting a higher gear and the throttle response are crisp and on point
This suspension firms up nicely but not too much. As we turn off from Abu Dhabi and face the drive into Liwa the Ghilbi devours the road with a sense of enjoyment directly shared with the driver. The engine and exhaust provide a driving experience that is truly addictive. Turning out of a gas stations the twin turbo V6 grips the tarmac and both turbos make easy work of the cars weight. The Ghibli leaps forward with race car like aggression but sports car agility all the time with an accompanying howl and burble of an engine that has been tuned in Maranello by Ferrari.
It is marvelous and goes past putting a smile on your face to something deeper and immensely gratifying. The power delivery is perfect, normally a forced induction engine will have a peak power curve after the turbo has reached its capacity and a notable stage of running out of ‘puff’. Not in the Ghlibli as the boost forces the 3.0 V6 through the rev range a second boost appears at 5,000 RPM just where it should be dying off. From 5,000 Rpm to 6,000 RPM + the Ghilbli tries to slam the rev needle into the red. Thrilling it is and should you be overtaking and find yourself past the power band in the mid-range you can be safe in the knowledge there is plenty more at the top waiting to for you. We can’t help wonder if they should change the sport button symbol to a that of an aero plane for takeoff mode as it certainly feels the Ghibli would like to. As for the AWD system we came across very small roads with large sand drifts to test it on and on every occasion the power delivery was managed and executed in line with that of some of the more famously branded AWD systems, We did find with the more pronounced speed bumps of the rubber Varity it is best to very carefully tip – toe over them.
Anything more and you could ground the car out
After over 700 kilometers in one sitting the return journey was as delightful as the first 100. Reaching home base meant putting the Ghibli to rest, surely there was somewhere else we needed to go, someone far away who needed picking up but no time was up
Capable of executing large distances in comfort and launching itself from standstill to tyre blistering speeds with no sign of abating. The Maserati Ghibli is an addictive drive and gorgeous to look at, the engine tuned by Ferrari is sensational the sound is unique and widely recognized in the motoring world and your neighbors will know it too . The Maserati Ghibli makes choices in the mid saloon sector very tough indeed the Ghibli offers a handsome dose of Italian passion and drama far removed in any other option in its class. On top of this and from a drivers point of view (and everyone that knows you) the Ghibli has an unmatched unique appeal. It is a Maserati.