Maserati Ghibli – Italy’s sublime sedanPOSTED BY Amirul Hazmi ON 13 April 2017
More often than not, we aspire to own something that’s more special than what everybody else owns, even when it comes with a hefty price. That is why, particularly in automobile purchasing, customisation packages and bespoke parts are as common as aftermarket exterior kits.
The Maserati Ghibli is what the Italian carmaker came up with to gain a foothold in the mid-size executive sedan segment. The Ghibli is not their first attempt in producing a four-door machine as they have been manufacturing the Quattroporte since 1963 and subsequently introduced newer generations.
So, how special is the Ghibli compared to the many quick-and-functional German sedans on the market? Motorme.my drove one recently to find out.
In terms of styling, the Ghibli boasts a silhouette that is much less of a coupe, moving away from what the brand is usually about.
Most people are familiar with sports car manufacturers producing a four-door sedan with long-sweeping C-pillarsora fastback-styled rear end.The Ghibli, on the other hand, features a more traditional silhouette with appropriate curves and lines on its body.
From certain angles, there are slight bumps seen over the front fenders and muscular curves over its rear haunches, giving the car a more pronounced athletic appearance.
Take a closer look and you’ll find some exquisite details to be appreciated. These include an aggressive front grille with concaved vertical fins similar to that of the GranTurismo, a fluid and curvy side profile and Maserati’s ‘saetta’ logo on both of its C-pillars.
To my eyes, the car has a clean yet forceful design. The gorgeous Blu Emozione paint further underpins the car’s strong character and gives it an outstanding presence in an urban setting.
The headlight units of the car are adaptive Bi-Xenons with integrated LED DRLs, arranged in thin clusters. This delivers a fierce-looking effect to the Ghibli’s front. At the rear, a set of quad exhausts can be found neatly tucked under the rear bumper.
Following traditional Maserati fashion, there’s a host of configurable aspects on their cars. For the Malaysian market, the Ghibli will be fitted with 19-inch wheels, while the bigger 20-inch set is reserved for the more powerful Ghibli S. This particular car wore 19-inch Proteo alloys, wrapped in 245/45 rubbers up front and 275/40 at the rear.
Apart from plush and lavish leather interior upholstery, you’ll be greeted by a sporty three-spoke steering wheel once you climb into the Ghibli’s cabin. Of course, the steering wheel hub is ornamented with the iconic, shiny logo. These details naturally indicate that you’re sitting in something special.
Standard kit on the car includes electrically-adjustable driver’s seat with eight-way + four-way lumbar support, ventilation and heating function for the two front seats and MTC+ (Maserati Touch Control Plus) 8.4-inch touch screen display with rotary knob function. It also comes with Bluetooth, GPS navigation, USB and aux-in media control functions, and is compatible with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Elsewhere, there is the 900W Harman Kardon Premium Sound System which is wired to 10 speakers.
For exclusivity, the interior customisation options allow for individual material selection for the car’s seats, dashboard, carpet, steering wheel, headlining and trim. The car sampled here gets the combination of Cuoioleather seats, Nero/Cuoio dashboard, Nero steering wheel and Alcantara-like Grigio headlining. Personally, the brown Cuoio leather suited nicely with the car’s exterior colour.
Since this car was not designed with a long sweeping rear windshield, the rear headroom as well as rear legroom is reasonably spacious. The rear bench can sit three adults comfortably in a rather sporty sitting position.
Under the hood of the Ghibli is a V6 twin-turbo engine that benefitted from some Ferrari know-how. Although the engine is primarily designed by Maserati, the block is casted and machined to Ferrari’s specifications and assembled by them.
The 3.0-litre engine produces 350hp at 5,500rpm and a torque figure of 500Nm. The output might be 60hp and 50Nm of torque down than that of the Ghibli S but that power figure is still 109hp and 98hp more than what the E300 AMG Line and the newly-launched 530i M Sport,respectively, have to offer. Do note that the Merc and the Bimmer utilise 2.0-litre turbocharged four pot units.
Bolted to the Ghibli’s engine is a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission, sending all power to the rear wheels. This enables the Ghibli to complete the century sprint in 5.5 seconds, placing it well in the sports car territory.
Behind The Wheel
Maserati reckons that the exhaust note is the key in driving their cars. Starting the engine releases a well-toned scream. The engine idles throatily and when you give it some fuel, becomes rawer towards the redline.
To be honest, I really want to give some credit to the team at Modena, Italy, as I genuinely thought that the car was naturally-aspirated until I checked the technical specs. The V6 engine may not rev to a sky-high 8,500rpm as what the F50 does (the Ghibli’s redline is at 6,500 rpm), but it sounds like a slightly muffled F430, I must say. Especially at the final 1,000rpm.
As a sedan that has been injected with glamourous Italian sports car attributes, the seating position – crucial in operating such high-performance machines – is on point in the Ghibli. With eight-way plus four-way for lumbar support, the electrically-adjustable driver’s seat works perfectly with the steering wheel and pedal position in ensuring all driving controls are within the driver’s ergonomic range.
Even so, I find the steering wheel rim to be too thick or fat for my liking. Being unable to properly grip the steering wheel at a 9- and 3-o’clock position somehow bothers me. Another thing, instead of using black plastic for the brake and throttle pedals, aluminium ones would greatly help to match with the car’s opulence, as achieved with the other aspects of the cabin. Also, am I the only one who thinks that a car like the Maserati Ghibli should have a floor-mounted throttle pedal?
Driving the Maserati in a congested area of Petaling Jaya makes you notice that people tend to give the car a second look. The Ghibli is not too flashy, even with its aggressive design and colour, nor does it blend in with the rest of the surroundings. Yet, it reminds you that you are in a special and less common vehicle.
The Ghibli is naturally an easy driver like most premium sedans. However, the Sport button on the centre console constantly entices you to press it, altering the car’s throttle response, gear change, exhaust note and suspension damping to make the car behave edgier and more aggressive. There’s also a fine intake and crackle noise as you balance your right foot on the throttle at high rpm.
The twin-turbocharger setup means that the force-fed engine is able to deliver its power linearly, but with a strong pull. It can be felt that the torque has a wide curve as it pulls along the way.
No complaints on the ZF automatic gearbox as it is said to be one of the best in the business. It shifts through the gears swiftly and corresponds well with the selected driving mode, be it Sport, Normal, or ICE (Increased Control and Efficiency). For those who want a more efficient drive but with a sporty feel, there is the Suspension button which allows you to engage or disengage the Sport mode.
In corners, the car is able to handle itself in an athletic manner. The FR layout provides the car with a balanced mid-corner character. Although the steering wheel lacks feedback, it is sharp and directs the car through bends with precision.
To keep the car and its driver in check, the Maserati Ghibli gets a host of safety features including seven airbags, brake assistance system (BAS), Maserati Stability Program (MSP), tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS), advanced driver assistance system (ADAC) consisting of front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, lane departure warning system, blind spot alert and rear cross path detection.
To me, the Maserati Ghibli is indeed a sporty drive for everyday use while carrying a strong emotional design character to it. With a visceral exhaust note, details that are passionately-designed and 500Nm of torque, the Ghibli promises a sensational experience for your daily commute.
The car is yours from RM618,800 (excluding road tax, insurance and registration charges) and comes with a three-year unlimited mileage warranty.