£51,495 - £78,560 Price range
29 - 47 MPG
The last time a Maserati wore the Ghibli badge it was a potent, boxy coupe in the late 1990s. The latest Ghibli is rather different; a sleek saloon with, for the first time ever in a Maserati, a diesel engine option. The Ghibli aims to offer a slightly more stylish and opulent alternative to the likes of the BMW 5 Series and Jaguar XF.
That diesel is the one you’re most likely to see rumbling around the UK’s roads, as its 47mpg fuel figure is 40 per cent higher than its petrol counterparts. But all Ghiblis have their merits – even if they have their faults too.
First impressions count for a lot, and the Ghibli’s typically Italian, stylish cabin is a great place to sit. Most of its switchgear and architecture is shared with the larger Quattroporte, but some testers suggest overall quality isn’t quite as good as it could be – one scathingly suggests it’s “more Fiat than Ferrari”.
Importantly, the cabin is both comfortable and relatively spacious. Most reviewers like the driving position, even if the pedals are a little offset. The dials are clear, the satnav screen vastly better than Maserati has used in the past, and there’s enough leg and headroom for four adults.
There’s a few hits and a few misses here. Starting with the latter, all Ghiblis ride on the firm side, with the V6 S in particular irritating testers with its crashy nature. The diesel and V6 are better in this regard but still “problematic” – potholes can jar through the cabin in a manner unbecoming to a luxurious saloon.
The Ghibli is also quite heavy – one in-depth review puts the diesel on the scales and discovered a near two-tonne kerb weight. Despite this, the Ghibli handles very well, with only the more nose-heavy diesel feeling a little ponderous at times. Steering is swift and direct, it has good balance, decent grip and above all, it can be quite good fun to drive.
There are three engines on offer here, and all give you six cylinders in a vee-formation. The most surprising is the one badged “V6d”, as it’s the first diesel car Maserati has ever produced. There are also two brisk and characterful turbocharged petrol units.
Each of the three units are paired to an excellent eight speed automatic gearbox, which shifts smoothly and can be manually overridden via either the steering wheel-mounted paddles or the sequential-type gearshift selector.
It's also "smooth and refined". But while nearly 30mpg would have been respectable in the old days, it now seems a bit thirsty - and brings a £280 yearly road tax bill to the table too. If you can afford it, do it - but the diesel is the sensible choice.
With 271hp it'll still hit 60mph in just over six seconds, but the quality of that performance is only deemed "adequate" by some testers. Another calls the grumbly engine note "uncouth", and a couple of reviewers mention some driveline "shunt" when applying and releasing the throttle. It could be better then, but for most the diesel Ghibli's extra economy will make it the only choice in the range.
That, and the "menacing growl" is the good news. The fact it still doesn't feel as quick as the numbers suggest, and that the V6 S has overly firm suspension as standard, is the bad news. Throw in lowly 27mpg economy and it's a car that few UK buyers will opt for - but the regular V6 is the higher-rated car anyway.
By Maserati standards, the Ghibli is a steal. Similar to Porsche’s pricing strategy with diesel Cayennes and Panameras, a diesel Ghibli is the cheapest way into the Maserati range, costing less than £49,000. Naturally, it’s also the cheapest to run.
Unfortunately, even the diesel is more expensive to run than its rivals, as well as being expensive to insure and service, and options prices can be high. You can save yourself around £2,000 by not opting for Maserati’s ‘Skyhook’ adaptive dampers though – for most testers, the regular setup offers a better balance of ride and handling.
If you’re lucky enough to have a Ghibli on your company car list, you’ll be pleased to hear the diesel is a great deal cheaper than its petrol counterparts for company car tax. This year it’s rated at 27% (29 next year, 28 the year after), next to the petrol cars’ 35%. If you’re in the 40% tax bracket (likely, if you’ve got a Maserati on your list…) you’ll pay two grand a year less as a result – before you even factor in fuel savings.
There are two sides to the Ghibli’s coin. It’s the most affordable Maserati, yet also practical, fun to drive and great to look at. And with the diesel engine, it’ll be one of the cheapest Maseratis to run.
The other side is that in many areas it’s not quite as good as more humble cars from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. If you can accept that a run-of-the-mill 5-Series is technically the better car – and frankly, anyone considering a Maserati would probably get over that pretty easily – then it’s well worth a look.