An easy route to rousing at least temporary interest in a new car is to describe it as the most important in the history of its maker.

Problem is, if you’re writing a cheque said car can’t cash, soon you’ll find yourself with customers who are not only bored but also disappointed.

There are no such concerns here. The Ghibli is to Maserati what the DB7 was to Aston Martin or the Elise to Lotus. This car has to take the company from a Stygian mire of minority interest to mainstream respectability.

The quest will be boosted by the new Quattroporte and the Levante SUV, but for now the Ghibli has to make the difference. And a difference it is making. In 2012 Maserati sold 6000 cars – a tally set against a best-ever year of 9000 cars in 2008. Last year that number was 22,500 cars.

Those who snorted into their coffee at Maserati’s stated intent to shift 50,000 units next year might be feeling they underestimated the desire of customers to own a car with a trident on its nose.

Costing upwards of £48k and available with diesel power, the Ghibli has been attracting attention like no Maserati in history, although this is not the first time the name has appeared in the marque's line-up. In fact, three distinct Ghiblis have been created since 1966.

The first remains the most revered, and was designed to compete with the Lamborghini Miura and Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona. Powered first by a 4.7 and then a 4.9-litre V8, it remains one of Maserati’s greatest ever road cars.

The second Ghibli was based on the unloved Biturbo platform. Built from 1992, it came with 2.0 and 2.6-litre V6 turbos. The smaller engine made more power (306bhp vs 284bhp) and transformed the car, but it wasn’t sold here.

Three models of the new Ghibli are available. The standard model is a twin-turbo 326bhp 3.0-litre V6 petrol variant. A more potent Ghibli S features a hotter twin-turbo V6, which produces 404bhp. Alternatively, for those seeking more efficient motoring, a 271bhp turbocharged 3.0-litre diesel is offered in the Ghibli Diesel.

So does the new Maserati Ghibli deserve the attention it's receiving? Let's find out.

Top 5 Super saloons

  • Jaguar XFR
    Not only is the XFR the class leader, it is also exceptional value compared to rivals

    Jaguar XFR

    1
  • Mercedes-AMG C 63
    Mercedes-AMG C 63 saloon is priced from £59,800

    Mercedes-AMG C 63

    2
  • BMW M3
    The M3 packs a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six that produces 425bhp and 405lb ft

    BMW M3

    3
  • Mercedes-AMG E 63
    The old 6.2-litre V8 has been dropped in favour of a twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8

    Mercedes-AMG E 63

    4
  • Jaguar XJR
    The Jaguar XJR offers monstrous, relentless performance

    Jaguar XJR

    5

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka
  •  Maserati Ghibli Diesel
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    Maserati releases another range of updates for its range best seller, the Ghibli. We've driven the diesel version, but there's little improvement on before
  • Tipo Front
    First Drive
    21 September 2016
    New Fiat Tipo offers impressive space and practicality for a reasonable price. We try the 1.6 diesel on the demanding roads of North Wales
  • Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150
    First Drive
    20 September 2016
    The Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150 makes perfect sense: it's spacious, tidy to drive for an SUV and cheap to run