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Maserati’s Mainstream Luxury Move

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The Ghibli sedan is designed to get a share of volume luxury

Maserati is one of just two Italian automakers with a long history building sports cars that has also ventured into the sedan market. Its kissing cousin Alfa Romeo, another Fiat property, is the other well-known nameplate. Both produced sporting sedans back in the 1960s, but Alfa continued its Giulia model while Maserati’s Quattroporte (four ports) appeared then faded away under various company owners.

Ghibli Heritage

Unlike the larger Quattroporte, Maserati’s Ghibli model began life in 1967 as a svelte, V8-powered GT sports car, outselling Ferrari’s Daytona and Lamborghini’s Miura. Because of that fabled history, Maserati purists sniffed askance when the Ghibli moniker was resurrected to adorn a new sedan. On the other hand, non-purists are simply delighted to find a great looking, fast sports sedan from a legendary automaker that sells for well under six figures.

 
Although the Ghibli name may have literally better-suited Maserati’s GrandTurismo GT coupe models, its sports heritage is not inappropriately applied to this new midsized sedan. From the sensual LED headlamps creating a scowl around the concave grille through the nicely sculptured, coupe-like bodywork, the newest Ghibli is a head turner.

A sinewy scowl and elegant sculpturing is a hallmark of contemporary Maserati sedans
A sinewy scowl and elegant sculpturing is a hallmark of contemporary Maserati sedans

Twin-Turbos Meet Eight Speeds

Racy Italian bodywork can go a long way to capture a buyer’s heart, but performance is required to clinch the deal. In that important category, the Ghibli delivered nicely during my week behind the wheel. The fun starts under the low hood with a twin-turbocharged, direct-injected V6 that produces 345 horsepower in standard form and galloped 410 horses in our test car’s SQ4 trim.

 
This willing engine matches its horsepower with 406 pound feet of torque, available through a broad range of engine speeds. That would be adequate for a conventional six-speed automatic transmission but the Ghibli has eight speeds so there’s lots of punch available at any speed. And when you switch to Sport mode, the exhaust note barks with enthusiasm while the throttle response quickens and the chassis, based on the larger Quattroporte, controls the sporting power inputs nicely.

The four exhaust pipes are not only functional, they bark nicely in sport mode
The four exhaust pipes are not only functional, they bark nicely in sport mode

Inside Job

The Ghibli’s interior is nicely turned out with lots of leather stitching and controls easily within reach. Carbon fiber accents replace wood and race-style pedals add an appropriate sports sedan touch. It’s not nearly as plush as the bigger, more costly Quattroporte, but luxury buyers should feel right at home in this cabin.

 
Some pundits, perhaps the same critics who disliked the naming heritage, complain that the interactive display with navigation and pushbutton start switch appear lifted from Chrysler products. For that matter, the very sweet V6 engine, transmission, and basic vehicle architecture can find corporate origins from the Fiat-Chrysler merging. But that’s how affordable, low volume cars find their way to market. If the Ghibli had to be built with only parts sourced from Modena, Italy, it would cost four times the price and be less reliable. So the Ghibli’s added beauty in my book is its good looks, performance, and the potential reliability of its mainstream luxury rivals.   BRIAN DOUGLAS

The Ghibli interior skews sporty with stainless pedals and carbon fiber accents
The Ghibli interior skews sporty with stainless pedals and carbon fiber accents

2015 Maserati Ghibli SQ 4

ENGINE: 3.0-liter Twin-Turbo V6

HORSEPOWER: 410 @ 5,250 rpm

TORQUE: 406 lb-ft. @ 2500-5000 rpm

FUEL CONSUMPTION: 15-city/25-hwy/18 Combined

BASE PRICE: $76,900

AS TESTED: $82,920

Photography Courtesy of Maserati

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