Full 2014 Maserati Ghibli Review
What's New for 2014
The 2014 Maserati Ghibli is an all-new model.
It's not hard to imagine Maserati executives watching Porsche's recent growth with some envy. After all, Porsche, like Maserati, is a relatively small automaker, smaller than its image and legacy suggest. Maserati, too, has history, prestige and Italian pedigree, all hallmarks of an exclusive sport-luxury brand. With the new 2014 Maserati Ghibli, a midsize luxury sedan, the automaker is dipping below its traditional six-figure threshold, looking for a niche among the old European guard.
The midsize Ghibli is almost a foot shorter than Maserati's big Quattroporte sedan, but it uses many of the same steel and aluminum components. Also shared is the Ferrari-built turbocharged V6 engine. Although you have to be something of an aficionado to pick up on it, the engine's Maranello origin is quite apparent when the Ghibli is driven hard, as its dual exhaust outlets make a glorious racket. The turbo V6 is plenty powerful, too, as Maserati is offering it in both 345-horsepower and 404-hp versions on the Ghibli.
But in its exuberance, the 2014 Maserati Ghibli gives up some refinement. Inside, there are ample swaths of leather upholstery, but much of it is unpadded and lacks the supple feel you'd expect in a luxury sedan in this price range. Switches and knobs also look and feel rather low-grade for this class. Finally, while there's a good selection of standard and optional equipment on the 2014 Ghibli, it's not available with some features that are commonly offered as options in this class, including premium front seats (with upward of 10-way power adjustment), adaptive cruise control and advanced safety systems.
Discerning shoppers in this segment will judge the 2014 Maserati Ghibli by the European standard bearers, particularly sleekly styled sedans like the Audi A7, BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe, Jaguar XF and Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class. Whether the Ghibli appeals to you on an intellectual and emotional level within this group will depend, of course, on your desires and priorities in buying a midsize luxury car. Even though it's not the definitive pick for a high-end midsize sedan, we're happy to see Maserati bring some Italian flair to a class typically dominated by large German automakers.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Maserati Ghibli is a five-passenger "coupe-style" midsize luxury sedan that comes in base and S Q4 trims. Standard features on the base model include 18-inch wheels, bi-xenon headlamps, keyless ignition/entry, cruise control, leather upholstery, six-way power front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a rearview camera, an 8.4-inch touchscreen display and an eight-speaker sound system with USB and auxiliary ports. An optional package for the base version adds a sunroof, Bluetooth, auto-dimming mirrors, eight-way power front seats and a power-adjustable steering column.
The S Q4 comes with all of the above as standard plus wider rear wheels and tires and adaptive bi-xenon headlamps.
Various package and stand-alone options allow you to customize the Ghibli with an array of wood, carbon fiber and upgraded leather trim. Several wheel designs are available, up to 21 inches in diameter, as are brake calipers in multiple colors. Notable options include front and rear parking sensors, a driver-adjustable adaptive suspension, steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, power-adjustable pedals, a power rear sunshade, heated front and rear seats, ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel. On the electronics side, you can get a navigation system, an upgraded 10-speaker sound system, a premium 15-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system and an onboard WiFi hotspot.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2014 Maserati Ghibli comes standard with a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine that generates 345 hp and 369 pound-feet of torque in the rear-wheel-drive base model.
The same engine but with different internal components and reworked software delivers 404 hp and 406 lb-ft in the all-wheel-drive S Q4. An eight-speed automatic is the only transmission offered for both models. Steering-column-mounted paddle shifters are optional for both models.
According to EPA estimates, the rear-drive Ghibli achieves 19 mpg in combined driving (15 mpg city/25 mpg highway). The Ghibli S Q4 is just slightly less at 18 mpg combined (also 15/25).
Standard safety features for the 2014 Ghibli include antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and a rearview camera. Front and rear parking sensors are optional, but other safety technology like blind-spot monitoring, 360-degree parking cameras, lane keeping assist and forward collision mitigation aren't offered.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Ghibli the best possible rating of "Good" in its moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests. The Ghibli's seat/head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Maserati Ghibli's interior is a study in contrasts. On one hand, you can order deluxe appointments like a two-tone leather dash, leather door armrests and a suedelike headliner, while trimming the cabin in high-gloss wood, open-pore wood or carbon fiber. On the other hand, many of the knobs, buttons and tactile interfaces appear to come from the Chrysler shelves and feel more utilitarian than you'd like at this price (parent automaker Fiat owns both Maserati and Chrysler). The 8.4-inch touchscreen display, in particular, traces a fairly direct line to the infotainment interfaces in the Dodge Charger and Jeep Grand Cherokee. On the upside, this interface is quite straightforward to use and much less complicated than the more elaborate infotainment systems in the German-brand sedans.
Still, there's little doubt the Ghibli falls short of those precision-built German rivals in overall cabin quality. Surprisingly, the Ghibli's front seats offer outstanding comfort, even with their minimal number of adjustments. The seats' thick padding and firm side bolsters are ideal for a weekend jaunt on a back road or a long interstate drive.
Unlike some rival coupe-styled sedans, the Ghibli doesn't penalize rear seat passengers with a sloping roof line that consumes headroom. There's plenty of rear head- and legroom even for taller passengers, though foot space under the front seats is tight. At 17.7 cubic feet, the trunk offers generous space for the class, while the rear seat folds in a 60/40 split for added versatility.
Acceleration from the base Maserati Ghibli's 345-hp V6 engine is adequate but nothing particularly special for this class. If you're intent on wringing serious joy from your Maserati ownership experience, we highly recommend the more potent S Q4 model. Though both models use the same automatic transmission, the S Q4's eight-speed is tuned for snappier shifts and better performance. Most of the time, however, you'll be mesmerized by the Ghibli's engine and exhaust note, which could have been perfected by a master Italian pipe organ tuner. In Sport mode, especially, the S Q4 rips, pops and snarls when you back off the gas pedal like nothing else in the class.
In normal driving around town or on the freeway, the 2014 Maserati Ghibli is quiet and pretty composed for a midsize luxury sport sedan. More impressive, though, is the way the Ghibli carves through turns with unexpected agility and confidence. The all-wheel-drive-equipped S Q4 does even better. We're not fond of the Ghibli's steering, though. It has an artificial, almost rubbery feel that detracts from the car's otherwise vice-free performance.