Maserati, an Italian automaker long renowned for building sports cars with six-digit window stickers, unveiled the Ghibli mid-sized luxury sport sedan at the Chicago Auto Show, last week. With plans to garner their fair share of the luxury sport sedan market, the Ghibli’s price tag is comparable to that of its German counterparts. However, in keeping with the tradition of cars that bear the trident (Maserati’s crest and logo), the Ghibli unleashes quite a throaty rumble when acceleration is demanded and is more than capable when pressed into performing a challenging driving maneuver. Let’s take a closer look at this Italian beauty.
The very first thing I notice is that the Ghibli, which is a brand new model aimed at North American consumers, is approximately a foot shorter than its big Italian brother, the Maserati Quattroporte sedan. It also costs about $40k less. Next, I see that the Ghibli sedan bears some type of a resemblance to a coupe, with a long front end and short rear deck, crisp decisive lines, and a wide aggressive stance. Available in two trim levels, the base (rear-wheel) drive version is standard and an optional S Q4 (all-wheel drive) upgrade package is also available. The base package includes 18-inch wheels, bi-xenon headlights, keyless ignition/entry, a sunroof, a rearview camera, and auto dimming power mirrors. The optional SQ 4 package has all of these items with wider rear wheels and tires and automatically adaptive bi-xenon headlights. Other optional wheel packages range from 18 to 21-inches in a variety of glamorous looking styles. Front and rear parking sensors and your choice of an array of brake caliper colors is also available.
Inside we find that there is no shortage of leather in Italy. The seating is beautifully upholstered in leather, as are the dash and door panels. Your choice of interior accents in diverse wood grain patterns, as well as carbon-fiber are also offered. Power seats in a variety of configurations, cruise control, power telescoping steering column, dual-zone climate control, an 8.4-inch touchscreen, premium audio system, power adjustable foot pedals, power adjustable rear sunshade, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, and a navigation system are all included among the elegant amenities inside this luxurious sport sedan. The interior offers an overall spaciousness that is rarely found in a sports coupe, with plenty of headroom for front and rear seat passengers alike.
If I haven’t mentioned this up until now, let me take this opportunity to say that the same folks who build Ferrari engines — well, they build Maserati engines, too. In fact Ferrari owns Maserati. Having said that, allow me to say that the powertrain of the Ghibli (named after an African wind) is extravagantly designed. Both trim levels use the same Ferrari-built turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine and exhaust. The base model engine is detuned to 345-horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque but the all-wheel drive version produces 404-horsepower and 406 lb.-ft. of torque. Both use an eight-speed shiftable automatic transmission that can be fitted with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. This thing hits an exhaust note that could make Michael Angelo want to take it for a spin. Throttle response is snappy and acceleration is smooth and effortless. Of course the more powerful all-wheel drive option is the way to go if you are truly looking to have some fun but both are adequately powered. The transmission is equipped with comfort and sport modes.
The SQ 4 version in particular seems to serenade you in sport mode with an exhaust note that draws you in until you feel as though you have become one with the car. The Ghibli is surprisingly cat-like even in the harshest of curves. It really lives up to the Maserati tradition of performance handling, yet it balances that well with a comfortable ride. The SQ 4 seems to bite down harder as speed is increased; entering curves like it is riding on rails and begging for more acceleration as you make your exit.
Safety features for the Ghibli are relatively sparse for its class. There is no mitigated braking system, collision warning system, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning system, or blind spot monitoring system. A rearview camera is offered as optional equipment but there is also no 360-degree parking camera or parking assist warning. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing the Ghibli earned a top rating of “Good” for frontal-offset crash strength, roof strength, and side impact crash strength. It is also equipped with front seat head restraints. Standard crash prevention features include antilock brakes and electronic stability and traction control.