The Maserati Ghibli Makes Other Luxury Sedans Look Like Trash
All photos from maserati.com
There’s just something about Maseratis that make them more appealing than other cars in their respective classes. Why choose a boring old BMW 7 Series when you could have the Pininfarina-designed curves and Ferrari-derived V8 in the Quattroporte? Who in their right mind prefers the Mercedes SL or a Bentley coupe over the drop-dead sexiness of the Gran Turismo (or the Aston Martin Vantage, for that matter)? Maybe it’s the novelty of Maseratis that is enthralling, perhaps if I routinely saw black Quattroportes shuttling around the business elite every single day like I see other executive saloons, I would grow tired of it. After all, the cars really are just comfortable, leather-soaked cruisers that can eat up miles with really no effort at all, and neither model is a true supercar (even the hardcore Gran Turismo MC tips the scales at 3,800lbs). So maybe Maseratis are now just an extension of Fiat, a Ferrari-lite that is able to branch out into different automotive sectors that its big brother cannot, for reasons like brand image. But the one thing Maserati is able to do, better than anyone else, is shove a lustworthy automobile into an established segment and make every other player look dour in comparison. Case in point: the new, midsize Ghibli.
Resurrecting the name of a line of coupes last produced in 1997, the 2014 Ghibli will be a sedan akin to a BMW 5 Series or Audi A6, but is sexier and likely sportier than either. A turbocharged 3.0L V6 will send 330hp to the rear wheels in the base Ghibli, while a twin-turbo Ghibli S will develop 410hp; the Ghibli S is also available with Maserati’s Q4 AWD system. Thankfully, Maserati has tweaked the AWD system to send all power to the rear wheels in normal driving, but the fast-acting drivetrain can adjust to a 50:50 split in only 150 milliseconds under hard acceleration or when grip is lost. Keeping power at the rear wheels the vast majority of the time also negates fuel consumption penalties normally associated with AWD cars. An 8-speed ZF automatic is the only transmission offered, which also sees action in the Quattroporte and other Chrysler Group cars.
In right-hand drive markets, the Ghibli will also be available with a 3.0L V6 turbodiesel, complete with 275hp and 442 lb-ft of torque. 0-60mph arrives at just over 6 seconds, all while maintaining fuel economy somewhere in the mid 40s. The diesel has not been announced for the U.S., but don’t hold your breath. On the flipside, none of the RHD models will be available with Q4, for some reason. Autoweek speculates that a 2.0L turbo-4 is in the works for the Italian market, where cars with engines larger than that are slapped with an extra tax. They also believe that the Quattroporte’s twin-turbo 3.8L V8 will be shoehorned into the Ghibli, which makes 523hp in that car.
Nothing has been lost in applying standard Maserati quality to a smaller car, and hopefully the marque’s sporting nature also has not been lost in translation. The exterior isn’t the most beautiful that Maserati has ever produced, making it downright homely next to the GT (which I am convinced is the best-looking car on the market today), but it makes mincemeat out of its German competition, not to mention the anonymous Lexuses and Acuras. Italian cars have been described as exuding passion, to the point that the word has become a cliché in such reviews, but there’s no denying that when compared to the others, the Ghibli is on a completely different plane.
A smaller sedan to complement the Quattroporte like the Ghibli is crucial for Maserati to meet its goal of selling 50,000 cars per year, as is the rumored Levante SUV (similar to the Kubang concept from 2011). The Ghibli also shares underpinnings with the next Chrysler 300, allowing Fiat to keep costs of the new car under control. On paper, these measures don’t seem to have led Maserati down the path of cost cutting or tarnishing the brand’s image (*cough* Chrysler TC *cough*). We’ll find out when the Ghibli is released as a 2014 model.