What is it?
Maserati is a manufacturer on the move when it comes to sales. Back in 2012 it was selling around 6000 cars globally, but it wants to be selling 70,000 by 2018. That's a believable target given that the car maker moved around 33,000 units in 2015 - and that's before the new Levante SUV arrives later in 2016. For now, its best-selling model is the Ghibli, and more than 90% of those sold are the Diesel model we're driving here.
To give a little more context, the Ghibli range still consists of three models: the entry-level 271bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel, the standard 345bhp 3.0 V6 Ghibli, which uses a Ferrari-sourced engine, and the more - and most - powerful 404bhp Ghibli S, fitted with the same, but uprated, motor. The lesser petrol now gets 20bhp more than before and a higher top speed, while all engines benefit from an improved torque curve and come with a more responsive eight-speed ZF automatic.
There have been more considerable changes inside and to equipment. Most notable is a new 8.4in colour touchscreen infotainment system, which has a much higher resolution display, features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and can also be controlled via a BMW iDrive-type click-and-twist rotary controller just behind the gear selector. Safety tech such as lane departure, blind spot monitoring, city braking, cross traffic and a 360deg surround view is now available, too.
Behind that new screen and centre console lies better insulation, which, combined with improved floor mats and carpet, is intended to make the Ghibli a more relaxing place in which to while away the miles.
What's it like?
Taking into consideration all the minor improvements made to the Ghibli since its introduction in 2013, it is a better car than it was then - and even a better one than it was 12 months ago. But it remains some way behind its rivals, including heavy-hitters such as such as the BMW 535d and Mercedes E 350 d, in this Diesel form.
The main grievance is still the engine, which, despite Maserati's NVH work, still grumbles to life, sends noticeable vibration back through the wheel and pedals and never ceases its gravelly hum once up at motorway speeds in eighth gear. It never really feels particularly brisk, either, neither from a standstill nor from a rolling start, but Maserati's efforts to sharpen the gearbox have resulted in better responses when using the car's (optional) paddles.
The Ghibli's three driving modes, called ICE (Increased Control and Efficiency), Normal and Sport, are fairly self-explanatory, but none really fit their billing. Sport primes the gearbox and weights the steering and, on models with the optional Skyhook damping control, stiffens the dampers, but the Ghibli never feels as eager to change direction or as comfortable being pushed as a BMW 5 Series. New actuators in the Diesel's exhaust also aim to make a 'sporting sound', but it fails to deliver in the same way Audi's and Porsche's systems do.
Dialling back the dampers in Normal mode doesn't help the ride, either. In Sport the Ghibli shimmies and skips sideways over ruts mid-bend, while in Normal the extra breathing space only sends the body shuddering in a more pronounced way, as the wheels pick up on too many scars in the asphalt.
In short, you'll have more fun driving a 5 Series, and be more comfortable and relaxed in an E-Class. But there is at least some good news inside the Ghibli, where its new infotainment system is a marked improvement. It's far more responsive than before and more logically laid out, while its new rotary controller and shortcut buttons make it quicker to navigate on the move. That it also has the latest smartphone integration is another huge bonus.