The Ghibli certainly looks the part. Maserati would like you to think of it as a four-door coupé in much the same mould as the Mercedes-Benz CLS and Audi A7, because that way it can command both a more glamorous image and a higher price tag.
In fact, it just looks that way, but even so, the Ghibli should prove more than adept at stealing sales from more conventional cars as a low-slung slice of Italian exotica marauding amid a sea of sit-up-and-beg saloons.
It sits on an abbreviated version of the Quattroporte’s platform, shorter in the wheelbase by a substantial 173mm and by 290mm overall. For the two petrol models, power comes from either 345bhp or 404bhp versions of the same Ferrari-built 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6.
But in Europe and the UK all attention falls on the diesel, not just because it’ll be the runaway best-seller of the bunch but because, well, it’s a diesel. Is a diesel Maserati not akin to a paint-by-numbers Picasso? We shall see.
In the meantime, take a moment to ponder the pedigree of this ‘new’ diesel engine. Said to be developed by Maserati under the watchful eye of Ferrari engine man Paulo Martinelli, it is nevertheless based on the same 3.0-litre V6 used by the Jeep Grand Cherokee, even though it is built by VM Motori.
And while no one at Maserati is making the connection, we cannot help but notice that not only is its 2987cc capacity identical to that of Mercedes’ current 3.0-litre V6 diesel, but its bore and stroke are also the same.
That’s the Mercedes owned by Daimler that also used to own Chrysler which still owns Jeep, both of which are now owned by Fiat, which also owns Maserati. Engineering multiculturalism at its finest. Ironically, it runs through the eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox used by almost all major players in this class except Mercedes.
The Ghibli sits on a cut-down version of the Quattroporte’s platform, consisting of a steel monocoque with additional subframes, that at the front being cast in aluminium. Weight distribution is claimed to be 51 percent front/49 percent rear for the Diesel, for example, although our testing revealed a rather more nose-heavy 54/46 front/rear stance.
The suspension has the same layout as the Quattroporte, with double wishbones at the front and a multi-link rear end. However, it has its own spring and damper rates and wider tracks. The standard suspension is entirely passive, although Maserati’s Skyhook adaptive dampers can be fitted.
In normal driving the system prioritises comfort, but either at a press of a button or when the car detects that it’s required, the dampers firm up to mitigate both longitudinal and lateral load transfers.
If you don’t want to pay the full £2000 for Skyhook, a passive sport suspension is available, but given the firmness of the standard set-up, we’d definitely want to try it before ticking the box.