From £49,6207
Maserati further polishes an impressively capable machine that combines genuine handling ability with improved refinement

Our Verdict

Maserati Ghibli

Can Italy's interloper challenge the premium executive saloon old guard?

What is it?

This is the 2016 model year refresh of Maserati’s smaller four-door saloon. The main technical change is the modification of the V6 diesel engine to accommodate the injection of Adblue (a urea-based chemical that reduces the nitrogen oxide output of diesel engines). 

A small tank for the Adblue has been mounted under the car’s existing fuel tank, and the addition of the system means the engine now has Euro 6 emissions approval.

Maserati didn’t emphasise it in the MY16 literature, but the Ghibli has also been treated to a new sound-proofing package, which is said to be more effective at quietening the cabin without adding weight.

The door seals have also been improved (important for refinement because the Ghibli has frameless windows), while the door latches have been changed so the sound of a closing door is ‘improved’.

Maserati says it is most excited by the option of a new type of silk inlay fabric for both the Ghibli's and the Quattroporte's interiors. Produced by Italian fabric manufacturer and fashion house Zegna, the new material has been developed to meet the onerous automotive requirements for wear resistance and longevity.

The Ghibli is now offered with the option of a Blind Spot Alert system, which uses radar sensors mounted in the rear bumper, to alert the driver when a car is approaching from behind, while a new ‘Rear Cross Path’ function is designed to alert the driver to potential collisions when reversing out of a parking space. Additionally, the boot lid can now be opened by moving your foot under the rear bumper.

A new 900W and 10-speaker Harman Kardon audio system is now a standard feature, incorporating a ’12-channel amplifier’ and a subwoofer.

The optional Bowers and Wilkins Premium audio system now features a ‘Clar-Fi’ function, which is designed to improve the sound of compressed music files.

What's it like?

As high-end executive cars go, the Ghibli has its own flavour, which is very much Maserati’s pitch for the car.

Both of the firm's saloons have clearly benefitted from some years of honing and polishing, meaning they have less to fear from the German establishment.

The V6 diesel engine is now more refined, and even with the bonnet raised it is surprisingly quiet at ticover. Maserati's engineers have also done a fine job of integrating the motor with the eight-speed automatic gearbox.

All in all, this drivetrain is impressively quick, meters out its performance with great civility and is well integrated with the transmission whether climbing Italian mountain roads or overtaking on the motorway.

High-speed refinement is also better. The powertrain settles into a distant thrum and there's very little wind noise around the A-pillars and frameless doors.

You can hardly pick big holes in the Ghibli’s ride and handling balance, either. The steering – operated through a satisfyingly fat wheel rim – has a distinctly Italian feel.

It is nicely weighted and delivers a sense of accuracy that makes skirting quickly around alpine bends easier than it is in most cars of this size.

Even the ride is impressive. On the badly broken B-roads of northern Italy, the Ghibli copes well. Clearly, this car is not designed to be a road-smothering limo, but neither is it an over-firm machine with misplaced ‘sporting’ intent.

The only time it was seriously unsettled was over a sequence of road which was both badly broken and sunken. Compared to the Quattroporte we tried on the same roads, the Ghibli’s shorter wheelbase is occasionally caught out, allowing the body to pitch about.

The Ghibli is firm enough to feel well planted, but the chassis is able to both deliver excellent refinement on good surfaces and allow a sense of the road surface to filter through the cabin. It's an impressive mix.

It may seem an odd proposal, but a car that allows the driver to feel the changing road surface is more impressive than one that either tries to disguise or ignore it.

And the downsides? Mostly of interior quirkiness. No matter what I did with the seat and wheel adjustment, the wheel’s thick rim obscured part of the speedo.

Odd parts – such as the front quarterlight plastic moulding that houses the sound system's tweeters and is right in the driver's eyeline – are cheaply finished. Meanwhile, moving the shift lever between indents was not as positive as it should have been and the boot – though big enough – has a small and cluttered opening.

Should I buy one?

Buying a Ghibli is a personal decision. Maserati is a niche automotive brand, though that is not betrayed in the product, which is excellent in all the important areas.

Maserati’s pitch as being the ‘opposite of ordinary’ is quite compelling. Although aimed at the high end of the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class ranges, probably fewer than 20,000 Ghiblis will be sold this year, compared to over 400,000 of the German models.

Maserati boss Harold Wester has been quoted as referring to Maserati customers as "calculated risk takers". Stepping outside the premium mainstream poses a risk, but the Ghibli would now appear to offer a more rewarding break from convention.

Maserati Ghibli Diesel 

Location Italy; On sale Now; Price £49,160; Engine 6 cyls, 2987cc, turbodiesel; Power 271bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 442lb ft at 2000-2600rpm; Gearbox 8-spd manual; Kerb weight 1835kg; 0-62mph 6.3sec; Top speed 155mph; Economy 47.9mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 158g/km, 27%

Join the debate

Comments
25

10 June 2015
Is it made to compete Lamborghini which makes tractors?

10 June 2015
Love it. My choice in the executive car sector.

10 June 2015
My choice too! Looks beautiful and definitely more special than the German trio. I love the colour and tan interior. All in all, Yes Please!

10 June 2015
So great drivetrain, accomplished refinement, good ride and handling, minor (very minor) trim niggles. 3.5 stars?
Pah. It's the thinking man's 5-series.

10 June 2015
...but it's not British or German. And Autocar has clearly more than one problem with FCA Group. FCA Group is not buying any ads anymore on Haymarket magazines. And, as a consequence, stars go down, and down, and down... the Panda was at the top of the City Cars buying guide. All of a sudden, one day it was downgraded to third place, and then to fourth. The review of the Jeep Cherokee was a joke. Even the 488 GTB test was full of "yes, but....". Maybe the Maserati is worth three and a half stars, but the whole impression is that something is going on here. And that someone is biased when it comes to writing an article.

11 June 2015
RednBlue wrote:

...but it's not British or German. And Autocar has clearly more than one problem with FCA Group. FCA Group is not buying any ads anymore on Haymarket magazines. And, as a consequence, stars go down, and down, and down... the Panda was at the top of the City Cars buying guide. All of a sudden, one day it was downgraded to third place, and then to fourth. The review of the Jeep Cherokee was a joke. Even the 488 GTB test was full of "yes, but....". Maybe the Maserati is worth three and a half stars, but the whole impression is that something is going on here. And that someone is biased when it comes to writing an article.

I have to agree. A very positive review but only 3.5 stars?

rjv

10 June 2015
the review is awash with praises for the car. everything seems to be good with with very minor niggles(cheap plastics around tweeter speakers,,,pheww,,,,,) and still 3 and a half stars. remember jaguar xe is a five star car and i am jag fan, but this is not doing justice to ghilbi and the people behaind it

truecarfan

11 June 2015
I'd have one over the yawn-fest German offerings for sure. And I agree, why such a low score? Yet more German bias in Autocar? Surely not!

10 June 2015
I even thought it was an Infiniti at first glance. Started seeing them on the road now (see one every morning) and they look great. Now it comes with a Diesel engine, I wonder if Maserati are brave enough to build an estate version...

11 June 2015
Its come with a diesel engine since launch !

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