Maserati Ghibli saloon
“The Maserati Ghibli is hugely alluring in many ways, but it comes with a higher price tag and more compromises than other large executive saloons”
- Powerful and fast
- Stylish looks
- Cramped rear seats
- High servicing costs
- Unproven reliability
Assuming you’re looking near the top of the large executive saloon class, the Maserati Ghibli is a rival to the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class, Jaguar XF, Volvo S90 and Audi A6. We say ‘near the top', because unlike its key German rivals, the Ghibli is only available with powerful engines and in high-spec trim levels. This isn’t a problem if you’re looking at a well-specced Mercedes E350d, for example, but it’s worth knowing there’s no £35,000 version of the Maserati – it’s all or nothing, with prices starting from over £50,000. In fairness though, Maserati would like you to see the Ghibli as a coupe-like model like the similarly expensive Mercedes CLS and Audi A7.
Either way, Maseratis have tended to appeal to buyers’ emotions rather than their spreadsheets, and the Ghibli certainly looks good enough to set pulses racing. In late 2017, the Ghibli was heavily revised, with Maserati saying the changes made it around 70% new. The bodywork was redesigned to reduce drag and it looks sharper and more elegant than before. Adaptive LED headlights were also added, with an automatic main beam. Its engine range is also appealing, although its 3.0-litre petrol is simply too thirsty to recommend, so the punchy 271bhp 3.0-litre diesel is Maserati’s best-seller. This returns around 40mpg, which, while reasonably palatable, is a little off the efficiency pace compared to the BMW 530d (45.6mpg) or Audi A7 3.0-litre TDI (49.6mpg).
On the road, slight compromises continue. The big diesel engine is nicely punchy, but it’s not as smooth or characterful as similar offerings from rival brands. At this end of the market, such refinement counts for a good deal, and the diesel Ghibli simply isn’t as quiet as the competition. Despite an electric power-steering setup, it’s not as good to drive, either, as it always feels rather heavy and has a jittery ride, even with the optional adaptive ‘Skyhook’ suspension fitted. Get it on the right road and it’s great, but the Jaguar XF and BMW 5 Series are still better to drive.
Practicality is another problem, as the Ghibli’s back seats and boot are smaller and tighter than the BMW 5 Series’ and Mercedes E-Class’. Still, the dashboard design will be a tonic for anyone tired of serious executive saloons’ staid and sombre interiors. It’s not a riot of colours and illogical switches, but there’s more vigour and style than usual in this class of car. A facelift improved the infotainment system slightly, though, while a five-star crash-test rating from Euro NCAP means the Ghibli takes safety suitably seriously.
If it sounds like we’re being overly harsh on the Ghibli, that’s because we’re looking at it in the cold light of day and in direct comparison to its rivals. If you’re taken with the looks, the badge and the Italian allure, you won’t give two hoots about the competition: you’ll be too busy being smitten by the Ghibli’s charms, warts and all.