The Ghibli is Maserati’s best-selling model ever. A sports saloon aimed at the likes of the BMW 5 Series, Jaguar XF and Mercedes E-Class, it’s sold 70,000 units worldwide since its launch in 2014.
Compared to the 100,000-plus that the BMW and Mercedes do each year in Europe alone that’s small beer but Maserati values its exclusivity, happy to have discerning customers who don’t follow the herd.
Still, the brand recognises the need to keep things up to date so for 2018 the Ghibli’s had a bit of a refresh. Some exterior tweaks to improve aerodynamics, a new trim strategy and a wave of new driver assist systems.
Maserati Ghibli Gransport
Price: £58,485 (£72,960 as tested)
Engine: 3.0-litre, V6, diesel
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 6.3 seconds
CO2 emissions: 158g/km
The assist systems bring level 2 autonomy through Highway Assist, active blind spot assist, lane keeping assist and traffic sign recognition to complement the likes of forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking.
The technological advances also include integrated vehicle control. This stability control system, says Maserati, monitors the driving and conditions and can predict situations before they develop, allowing the system to intervene in a less intrusive manner.
I certainly didn’t notice it cutting in during my drive – an experience which demonstrated how Maserati is committed to honouring its sporting grand tourer roots even in its more “mainstream” models.
Thanks to 50/50 weight distribution, a standard-fit limited-slip diff and carefully tuned suspension, the Ghibli feels like a genuinely sporting car. A blast along some twisting Highland roads revealed a quick, nimble machine that corners with control and poise while making easy work of straights thanks to its 271bhp V6 diesel.
The 2018 Ghibli features electric rather than hydraulic power steering for the first time but a lot of effort has gone into ensuring it still offers an engaging drive. It’s been time well spent, there’s plenty of feel and feedback that gives confidence that driver and car are on the same page.
A lot of effort has also gone into the car’s look and ensuring they pay due respect to the brand’s heritage. It stands out in a sea of Teutonic blandness in the way a wild Versace dress would stand out in a line-up of austere Hugo Boss suits. The trademark Maserati grille dominates the front, deep, sharp and utterly distinctive beneath a sharply raked bonnet. But the effort doesn’t stop there. The body looks like it’s been shrink-wrapped, every panel clinging tight to a sculpted structure underneath.
The emphasis on design continues inside. Red leather might not be to everyone’s taste but in contrast with the test car’s black exterior it looked fantastic. It wraps around the seats and dash top, creating a two-tone finish that looks and feels high-end. The seats themselves – sports models as part of the car’s Gransport trim pack – are fantastically comfortable and supportive, offering plenty of grip as you press on.
Sadly, the Ghibli is afflicted with the same touchscreen setup as other Maseratis which, while it has all the features you’d expect, looks and feels out of place – its low-rent plastics and ugly graphics clashing with an otherwise classy interior.
The Gransport is one of two new trim packages that bring distinct interior and exterior details. The other, Granlusso puts the emphasis on luxury in place of the Gransport’s more dynamic leaning.
Whichever you op for it seems that you can put a price on individuality. For sure, you won’t see many other Ghiblis in the golf club car park but at £73,000 as tested that’s hardly surprising. A V6 Jaguar XF with their 3.0-litre, 296bhp diesel sending its power to the rear wheels is £20,000 cheaper, even with a bucketload of options. The Ghibli looks phenomenal and is a delight to drive but the Jag’s no slouch on an interesting road and BMW and Mercedes know a thing or two about producing sporting saloons as well.
Still, for the buyer who wants to stand out from the crowd perhaps that’s a price worth paying.