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Engine options, top speed, acceleration and refinement

The Ghibli offers three engines and two drivelines, the range beginning with a rear-drive 3.0-litre petrol twin-turbo V6 developing 345bhp.

Above that sits the Ghibli S with the same 404bhp twin-turbo version of the V6 recently debuted in the Maserati Maserati Quattroporte, this engine available either with rear or four-wheel drive, although the latter, disappointingly, will not be available in the UK.

Repeated hard stops can quickly lead to brake fade

The most unusual offering, in a Maserati context, is a 271bhp 3.0 V6 turbodiesel that’s an essential weapon if the Modenese marque is to boost its sales from well under 10,000 units to 50,000.

All Ghiblis come with an eight-speed paddle-shift ZF transmission, multi-link rear suspension and double wishbones up front, Maserati’s electronically controlled Skyhook dampers, a limited-slip differential, Brembo brakes and hydraulically assisted steering. And all benefit from 50 percent front, 50 percent rear weight distribution, a model-for-model kerb weight 50kg lighter than a Quattroporte and a 0.31 drag coefficient.

We know the V6 in the larger Quattroporte performs in a spirited, smooth and characterful fashion. In the Ghibli, it should prove a sensible and rewarding option.

‘Adequate’ is not a word you want to hear in any description of a Maserati, but there seems none better to describe the performance of the diesel Ghibli in both subjective and objective terms.

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Its acceleration would be entirely unremarkable for the class were it to wear a BMW or Mercedes badge. Indeed, it’s slower to 100mph than both the CLS 350 CDI and a BMW 530d, let alone the 535d which is its closer rival, and it’s no quicker than an Audi A7 3.0 TDI. Is 0-60mph in 6.5sec and a 0-100mph time of 17.2sec acceptable for a Maserati? We’d say yes, just, but a Volkswagen Golf GTI is about as quick to both targets.

The motor is sufficiently civilised as long as you don’t make the mistake of pressing the Sport button, which imbues it with a gruff and gravelly voice but no additional performance. Salvation lies in the gearbox, which is as excellent in the Ghibli as it is in any other application. Better, in fact, because should you choose to shift manually using the selector rather than the paddles, it makes you push to change down and pull to change up, which is exactly as it should be.

Sadly, the Ghibli is no better at losing speed than it is at gaining it. At a socking 2040kg on our scales, our diesel test car was more than 200kg heavier than Maserati’s figures suggest, causing brake fade on the test track and, on the road, merely the sense of a car with sufficient braking potential for the performance but no more. The car also took a long time to stop in the wet.

However, given the traction issues discussed in the following handling section, this is more likely the fault of the chassis and tyres than the brakes.