For 100 years Maserati have been exciting people with the passion of motoring. Not all this time has been fruitful though but the company has kept the history and the passion of its founder Alfieri.
The last two years have been for Maserati the start of a new era, creating a new approach and strategy for the company, which has seen quite successful sales. The US market has seen the largest increase in sales with the Quattroporte breaking new sales limits. The Plan is to top 50000 units for 2014, will they do it, I think maybe they will. Maserati have already topped their first quarter figures.
Maserati are boldly pushing the plan to the limit in the production and launch of the Maserati Ghibli, which also sees for the first time in its 100 year history, two concurrent four door sedans. I have had the privilege of getting intimate with the Ghibli and we have been out for the weekend. Here is my relationship with the Quattroporte’s younger sister.
I pop along to the Maserati dealer announce my presence and ask for Ghibli. “She will be out shortly Sir” the reception explained, so I sat down and relaxed adoring some of the fine cars from Maserati and Ferrari.
“She’s here” announced the Receptionist, so up I got to meet my anticipated date. At first glance you think Quattroporte and then you sense a little generic design. The body is somewhat visibly wider than most cars on the road but you feel a little of the shape has come from the general market place. All said though it does look good. Maserati may have used a little common touch but they add the elegant with little touches that only Maserati have been placing on their cars over the years and who would not be pleased to see the Trident showing proud in the front grille.
Pull the door open, sit down in the supple double stitched leather seats and your eyes start to wonder and your fingers start to caress this plush interior. The Maserati trident shines from the centre of the steering wheel; the trademark clock adorns the dashboard, the centre console lines flow into the dash and when to look up you cannot help but touch the smooth alcantara roof lining. This model did not have the leather dash, which I believe everyone will opt for along with the carbon fibre inlay options that can be had for the centre console and door cards.
Maserati are slowly bringing in the philosophy that less is more and the Ghibli interior certainly shows this. Step into many other cars and it’s like stepping onto the bridge of the Enterprise, not so here. The minimalistic approach is refreshing. Climate control was visible and a few buttons on the steering wheel. The touch screen Infotainment system (which has been taken from the Chrysler side) has only two buttons, beautiful.
No modern car will be without the gadgets a gizmos but the Ghibli does not go overboard with them. Maserati want to keep the driver element in the cars and rightly so, she is Italian after all.
Now that we have a feel for her beauty, let’s see how she moves.
Let’s picture the scene. A mountain sits before you, with an open twisty road ascending into the Ras Al Khaimah range of the UAE. Ok not Italy but it was the closest I could get. I digress. You start the engine turn off the stereo if on and listen to the dulcet tones of Pavarotti bellow gently from the exhaust, select sport and manual modes, place your hands on the wheel, select first gear with the cool feeling of the alloy paddle shift at your fingertips and you push progressively the accelerator. Pavarotti raises his voice and sings to the mountains as the car lurches with great intent.
Maserati like most of the Italian marques want that you enjoy the feeling of the car, the sound of the car and the passion of the company that has crafted the car and the Ghibli keeps much of this.
The Ghibli is so named after a wind as is quite traditional for the company to do. A Ghibli for your interest is a hot southerly North African wind. So does the car go like the wind? My date was with the base model and though not the quickest car on the streets it certainly felt quick. Its heart was a Ferrari made 3.0 V6 delivering 330 Cavalinos and respectably able to accelerate from 0-62mph (0-100Kph) in 5.6 seconds. Combined with the remarkable ZF gearbox the drive was smooth and as refined as expected. The blip of the engine sounded on the down change and with a slight positive jerk of the gearbox and a satisfying crackle from the exhaust, you knew you were driving an Italian.
The Ghibli graciously caressed the curving mountain road with very little roll. The steering was precise and smooth and just keeping the feel of the road. You could feel the 19 inch wheels that were mated to some quite sticky Dunlop shoes twitch on the occasional bend, though still with poise and great stance. The car has a perfect 50/50 weight distribution, which helps without a doubt the handling of the car. As the younger sibling of the Quattroporte almost twins even, it is a little shorter in length and with the tiniest of change to the remainder of the car.
In driving it feels more agile and responsive than the Quattroporte due to the reduced size and weight; after all good things come in small packages.
Maserati have made a bold and offensive move with the Ghibli and a move that is paying off. They are putting a finely tuned, well developed luxury car into an area of the market filling with the suit and ties of the Germans. The brand has made themselves accessible in placing with finesse and grace the little sister to the Quattroporte. For many this will be the chance to actually own an Italian thoroughbred but for Maserati this will see more of their heritage and passion hitting the streets.