Maserati Ghibli review
The Maserati Ghibli is a sleek and sporty alternative to more mainstream executive cars from Audi, BMW and Mercedes, but it feels its age and isn’t as good to drive as you might hope.
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What's not so good
Maserati Ghibli: what would you like to read next?
Maserati aims to offer Italian exotic appeal at a more palatable price than, say, Ferrari. And the Ghibli – a sleek and sporty saloon that is an alternative to the likes of the BMW 5 Series and Jaguar XF – is its cheapest model.
It’s a bit like the Armani Exchange brand: it brings the premium appeal of the Armani name, but its products are more practical and affordable. And Maserati has just updated the Ghibli, bringing in an even more rational hybrid option.
The biggest selling point of the Ghibli is the way it looks, both inside and out. It might be a design that’s several years old now, but it still looks more exotic than most premium saloons. In a world where first impressions matter, the allure of the looks and the badge is undeniable.
For the same reason, the Ghibli’s typically Italian, stylish cabin is a nice place to sit. Most of what you’ll see is shared with the larger and more expensive Quattroporte, which means it could hardly be more different than an Audi. Admittedly, the German alternatives still better it for both technology and fit and finish, but there’s still a real sense of occasion in the Maserati that they can’t match.
The Ghibli’s most recent update sees the interior freshened up with better materials and a new infotainment system that’s nicer to look at and easier to operate. The revisions are welcome, but the above point still stands.
It’s spacious in the front, though, with enough adjustment on the driver’s seat and steering wheel for most drivers to get comfortable. However, things are tighter in the back, where the more coupe-like roofline limits the available headroom and the transmission tunnel in the floor means it’s hard to see it as more than a four-seater in everyday use. Think of it more like a BMW 3 Series than a 5 Series in terms of outright space.
Likewise, the 500-litre boot is a decent size, but it’s not the easiest to use. That’s because the high lip and relatively narrow opening make it quite hard to get larger items of luggage in and out.
On the road, too, the Maserati Ghibli is a mixed bag. For example, on every model, the suspension is on the firm side, so you’ll feel a lot of bumps – which is quite possibly not what you want in an upmarket saloon car.
On the other hand, the rear-wheel drive Ghibli handles quite well, and you can really enjoy it in the right circumstances. Its steering is swift and direct, the car is well balanced and it has decent grip. But it’s still a shame it can’t waft along like the best executive cars.
The Ghibli Trofeo, launched in 2020, takes the sporty handling a step further without harming the ride too much, and is an alternative to the BMW M5.
Buying a Ghibli is very much letting your head rule your heart: You know that there are better alternatives, but you can't help being drawn to the name and the looks
Also playing a major part in giving the Maserati Ghibli a sporty feel are the engines, which have recently been updated. You used to get a simple choice of a V6, powered by either diesel or petrol.
As of 2020 the diesel is no more. Instead, there is now a 330hp four-cylinder petrol hybrid as the range starting point. It promises the efficiency of the old diesel with the performance of the larger V6 petrol.
In practice, it’s not totally convincing. 30mpg is about as good as it gets, and while it offers strong performance with a 0-62mph time of 5.7sec, the engine lacks the character you’d expect from a Maserati.
The twin-turbo V6 petrol might be fairly old-school, but it’s more in-keeping with this car’s sporting appeal. You can have it in standard form putting out 350hp, or the Ghibli S with 430hp. The latter can do 0-62mph in 4.9sec, and makes a wonderful noise doing it. Neither is exactly economical, but hey, it’s a Maserati.
Less economical still is the Ghibli Trofeo. But you’ll care even less once you make use of the glorious 580hp 3.8-litre V8 under the bonnet. It can top 200mph, too, so it’s a serious performance car.
A bigger problem than fuel economy is the fact that the Ghibli is noticeably more expensive to buy than equivalent models from BMW, Audi or Mercedes. That’s despite it offering less technology, space and comfort than those cars. You’re clearly paying for the badge.
Overall, that mixed message very much sums up the Maserati Ghibli. Yes, some things about it are good: it’s decent to drive (on roads that suit it), as well as being the most affordable Maserati and wonderful to look at. But, fundamentally, it’s a much less polished product than alternative executive cars, so you’ll have to really want one.