2014 Maserati Ghibli S Review

As good to drive as a BMW 5 series? As unique as a Jaguar XF? As affordable as an Audi S7? And as Muslim as a Mullah!

By Shahzad Sheikh

Maserati Ghibli review

Okay, this is the one you’ve all been waiting for. Actually, no. I have to confess: this is the one that I have been waiting for. You see I was a big fan of the old Maserati Quattroporte – foibles and all. It had style, glamour and sex appeal, not to mention a sporty fun drive, great performance and a tank full of cool.

So when I drove the all-new Quattroporte – read my review of the Quattroporte S and Quattroporte GTS – I was bowled over by the massive leap forward in space, comfort and sophistication. The new QP has properly grown up and become a serious executive express. But that is the problem for me. It’s become a bit too serious. And it’s more of a barge rather than a bruiser now.

My breath then, has been more than a little bated, as I patiently awaited my turn behind the wheel of the totally all-new Ghibli, which sees the rebirth of a nameplate first seen in 1967 on a gorgeous swoopy coupe (read about that Ghibli here). And last used in the second generation Ghibli – also a coupe – from 1992-97.

Maserati Ghibli review

Here’s a coincidence then – Fiat is now married to Chrysler. Dodge is part of Chrysler, and in 2006 it revived a nameplate last seen in 1987 that was also previously synonymous with coupes – the Charger. Freaky huh? But look how well that’s done. Hence, if you have any hang-ups about the Ghibli now being a four-door, just drop them.

Focus instead on this: go Ghibli S and it’s as quick and good to drive as pretty much anything else in the fiercely competitive E-segment it has dived into. Go Ghibli and it’s extraordinarily affordable starting from just AED285k – yep, really. Plus this car is halal – huh? Believe. Stick with me, I’ll come back to that one!

Maserati Ghibli – exterior and interior

And then there is the jaw-dropping design that sends this new Maser straight to the front of the class for good looking new saloons. I mean just look at it. Gaping grille, hooded headlights, mean and moody face, swoopy bonnet, flowing flanks, flared haunches, signature Maserati gills. In this beautiful blue finish, it’s an absolute knockout sensation.

Maserati Ghibli review

Some reviewers have been a little unkind about the back, but I think it looks nicely finished, if a little generic, although viewed from the rear three-quarters, there is no mistaking the muscular and toned profile.

It’s considerably shorter than the current Quattroporte and even a little smaller than the old QP, but it’s fractionally longer and wider than a BMW 5-series. So it competes on par in the space race – don’t go by the narrow boot opening, there is a deep compartment that’ll happily swallow all your touring luggage or maybe three bodies, depending on what sort of business you’re in – well this car does hail from the land of the mafia.

As for the exquisitely appointed rear compartment, complete with very visible ISOFIX child-seat anchor points, it has space enough for most, especially if those in the front are average sized. Sitting behind my tall lanky frame would be possible but a little uncomfortable though. Still airbags all round and five-star crash safety ratings from both sides of the Atlantic reassure.

Maserati Ghibli review

But hey, I’d be fine up front in my 8-way electrically adjustable seat – six way in the non ‘S’ model. There’s plenty of room and adjustment and the fully adjustable seats are so much more comfortable than in the old QP. The styling from the dashboard is actually quite a bit different from the new QP although the controls and equipment are very similar. The big car’s more formal and stout appearance makes way for a much cosier and more inviting cabin, that’s warmer in appearance and more tactile.

As with the new QP, the tie-up with Chrysler has worked wonders for the in-car controls, switchgear and infotainment systems. Everything makes sense and works wonderfully – how very unlike a Maserati of old – or still the GranTurismo of today (though I’d forgive it that, I’d forgive that beauty anything actually).

Almost the same applies to the Ghibli, but for that damnable transmission lever. It’s a BMW-style electric device that that leaves me fighting the thing switching between Park and Drive when actually trying to select reverse, and never managing to find neutral at all! No quick shunts into reverse for this car. But aside from the confounded gear shifter, this is an exquisite place to be.

Maserati Ghibli review

The driver-orientated cockpit certainly spoils you with its different grades of leather, we had the lush top-of-the line stuff, and you can choose a variety of trim materials from wood to carbon fibre, plus there’s lashings of Alcantara.

There’s also a terrific 15-speaker 1280 Watt Bowers & Wilkins audio systems if you tick the top option (8-speakers as standard) with Bluetooth – though plugging it seems to work better for seamless play. Appropriately the sound quality is operatic! Stick a data-package sim card in and you can even turn your Ghibli into a Wi-Fi hot spot. How very 21st century!

Ferrari engine serves up the performance

Stick it in Sports and it burbles, it parps, it screams and it crescendos in a melodic torrent of mechanical symphony. And yet, my gentle reader, what lurks under the bonnet is not a V8. In fact it is a V6 – a 3.0-litre unit at that!

Maserati Ghibli review

Developed by Maserati this new engine (also seen in the new Quattroporte) is actually made by sister company Ferrari at its fabled Maranello HQ! Yep that’s a V6 from Ferrari – and I tell you what, it’s so good, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this in something wearing a prancing horse on the nose very soon.

How good? The twin turbo produces a stunning 410bhp giving it 285kph top speed and a supercar-baiting 0-100kph time of 5.0 seconds – 4.8 seconds for the all-wheel drive Q4 version expected later in the year thanks to better traction off the line. Stick the sports mode on and it opens the bypass valves in the exhaust and lets the glorious tunes bellow out of the four sport exhaust tips. You’ll wanna cruise around with the window open.

Drive is through an 8-speed ZF transmission, which of course is becoming the transmission of choice for fast executive cars, and now does a splendid impersonation of dual-clutch self-shifters, snapping changes in with stunning ferocity and immediacy – really encouraging you to use the wonderful fixed paddles behind the steering wheel.

Maserati Ghibli review

Some markets already get the Q4, but for now we get the rear-drive car, and frankly I’m not bothered, because all the torque is brilliantly deployed through a standard limited slip differential. I love the fact that Maserati has shunned both the current trends of electric power steering and e-diffs and gone for hydraulics and mechanical setups respectively instead.

Open up the taps with everything dialled to 10 and this Ghibli feels indecently quick for a beautifully crafted executive saloon. There is plenty of grip and road-holding, so things never get lairy or unseemly, but the speed does not disappoint.

The 330bhp non-S version is just over half a second slower on paper. In the real world it feels quick enough though you wait a little for the torque to really spool up. If you don’t drive the S, you’ll be perfectly satisfied and since only aficionados (and now readers of this) will know that it’s not the S because it has grey instead of red brake callipers, nobody will know you’re in the ‘cheaper’ Ghibli.

Maserati Ghibli review

Having said that, once you’ve tasted the instant thrust and unstinting acceleration of the S version, you won’t feel as satisfied with the performance of the regular car. My recommendation – there isn’t much in it in terms of fuel economy, so save up a bit more and definitely choose the Ghibli S!

How does the Ghibli feel to drive?

Weight is split 50:50 so the balance is spot on. The steering, whilst not the most feelsome, certainly feels like it’s actually connected to the front wheels, and the weighting is spot on. It’s also a sporty quick-ratio set-up – unusual for a premium saloon. There’s a confidence and satisfaction of knowing the precise front end will respond and dig into a corner with the car nicely rotating around that well-balanced chassis, that is unbeaten by most cars this side of a BMW.

There’s personality here too: an elegance of movement, sublime body-control, astonishingly competent responses to being hustled, yet never losing its poise and class. This is your everyday saloon that you could also take for a very enjoyable Friday morning blast!

Maserati Ghibli review

Living with the Ghibli

But you don’t have to be on it all the time. The brilliance of the Ghibli is that you can slow things right down to a cruise and just glide along looking utterly classy in your chic Maserati. Unlike the larger QP, this is of handy size, less nerve-wracking to take into malls. Plus the creature comforts all work, the AC is strong and all the gadgets you’d want are present and correct. Generally its does a great job at defeating some of the mundanity of the daily commute.

And you should feel a lot less concerned about reliability too: 90 Ghiblis were put through six million kilometres of testing with high temperature trials in South Africa and Morocco. There are 700 checks on each car in production and then a final 30-minute ‘quality audit’ before they let it out to the owner.

Verdict

Special. That’s what this car is. And that’s it makes you feel about yourself. Frankly this is the best Italian executive saloon you can buy today. It’s overflowing with feel-good qualities and is saturated with desirability. It’s also the most accessible Maserati ever – you really can have a Ghibli sitting in your driveway for only AED10,000 more than a similarly powered Lexus GS450h.

Maserati Ghibli review

The Ghibli S starts from a still not unreasonable AED325,000, and that puts in a much stronger position against its German rivals than ever before. Okay you have to spec it up, and our test car was closer to AED360k, but that applies to the Germans too. But any way you put it, this is so much more affordable than you thought a Maserati could ever be!

And then there’s that halal bit I referred to earlier. Of course that’s not entirely correct to say, however like most Maserati’s apart from the Quattroporte (which just means ‘four-door’) the Ghibli is named after a wind – usually from North Africa (possibly because the Maserati brothers were stationed there as soldiers).

Ghibli is another name for Sirocco, a south-easterly Mediterranean wind originating from the Sahara, and derives from the North African Arabic word for ‘south’ – Qibli – which etymologically is derived from the word ‘Qibla’ – the direction of prayer in Islam. Fascinating! And suddenly making the car so much more meaningful for the region.

Maserati Ghibli review

Of course none of any of this would have mattered to me if the Ghibli didn’t connect both on an emotional level as an extremely desirable piece of kit, and a physical level as a machine you can really get a kick out of driving (which is what the old Quattroporte did).

Thankfully the Ghibli does both in spades. And I love it.

The old Quattroporte is dead, long live the new Ghibli.

Maserati Ghibli – The Specs

Price:
Ghibli: AED285,000 ($77,000)
Ghibli S: AED325,000 ($87,000)
Engine:
Ghibli: 3.0-litre V6 Twin Turbo, 330bhp @ 5000rpm, 367lb ft @ 1750-4000rpm
Ghibli S: 3.0-litre V6 Twin Turbo, 410bhp @ 5500rpm, 406lb ft @ 1750-5000rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, rear wheel drive
Fuel Economy:
Ghibli: 9.6L/100km
Ghibli S: 10.4L/100km
Performance:
Ghibli: 0-100kph 5.6 seconds, Top speed 263kph
Ghibli S: 0-100kph 5.0 seconds, Top speed 285kph
Weight: 1810kg

14 responses to “2014 Maserati Ghibli S Review”

  1. Mohammed says:

    i wish if there is a v8 version

  2. kamil says:

    I think its a beautiful halal machine. Too bad I lost interest midway through the article. How do you even write so much? Its not reader friendly.

    • Utk says:

      I disagree. MME writers write just the adequate length required – Not too less as to you don’t even believe they’ve driven the car, but their articles cover almost all aspects required in a review, but still keeping it alive, and not too long. Trust me, there are some really famous British and American websites and magazines that write even more than triple the size of this article, and that is what I call “not reader friendly”. But you’ve written your views, and these are mine. Cheers!

      PS: I’m in no way related to MME; only been following these guys ever since their CAR magazine days. I’m just a HUGE car enthusiast and follow a huge number of car websites and mags.

      • admin says:

        [Shahzad] Thanks so much for your kind words and continued support Utk. I will just add that because we have no limitations when it comes to space – one of the advantages of being online – we are able to get a little more comprehensive with our reviews than we would in print. This is often weighed according to the newness and significance of a car. So in this case the Maserati Ghibli is a totally new car and it spearheads Maserati’s aggressive new push for a massive sales increase, hence I think it’s important to discuss this car at length. Having said that, because we’re not limited by space, there is a temptation to ‘go on a bit’ too. So I also welcome and take on board Kamil’s comments. In fact I tried to limit my word count on the Corvette review I posted yesterday, though I’m not sure with how much success. Do let me know if you think it was a more appropriate length Kamil! Thanks for reading and for your feedback guys!

  3. Utk says:

    Great review Shahzad! I’ve loved the Ghibli ever since its spy shots were released. 😛
    Okay, so here’s the (Ultimate?) Truth Test.
    You are given the Ghibli S Q4, C63, M3, 2014 CTS 3.0L, S7, XF 3.0L SC, E500, and 550i.
    Which one would you run to, right away?
    And please do rank the rest too!
    [The M5 and E63 don’t come here as they fall in the price range of the QP 🙁 I so wish I could include them too.)
    PS: Sorry about the long list, after all, truth tests are meant to be challenging! 😉

    • Utk says:

      Wonder what’s wrong with those emoticons. Didn’t put them where they are.

    • admin says:

      [Shahzad] Nice one UtK – I would actually go Ghibli S (Q4 not yet available here, but actually I don’t think it’s needed) right now. For the others it would be close between C63, M3, XF SC and CTS.

      • Utk says:

        Good to see the Maser at the top. Whatever happened to the S7? Thought you loved the RS7 in Audiland.

        • admin says:

          [Shahzad] RS7 (there’s a huge difference between that and the S7) was an absolutely stonking automobile with unbelievable performance and ability. But if you’re talking heart, soul and passion, the Maserati does it for me. As I said to someone recently, there are lots of cars that I really do like and admire, but wouldn’t necessarily want to own myself. The Ghibli is one of the few that I would.

  4. Tarek says:

    Great explanation from the name so Ghibli is Qiblee in Arabic!!

  5. Ali says:

    Particularly enthusiastic this article Shahzad….
    When are you getting one?

    Seems you should be putting your money where your mouth is this time…??

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