2014 Maserati Ghibli First Drive on Edmunds.com

2014 Maserati Ghibli First Drive

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2014 Maserati Ghibli Sedan

(3.0L V6 Twin-turbo 8-speed Automatic)

Chock Full of Flair and Flavor

Don't even think about buying the 2014 Maserati Ghibli. It's not that this new entry into the midsize sport/luxury segment is a poor attempt at a sport sedan. It's a capable machine, with styling and performance to rival the snazzy "four-door coupes" from Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.

Instead, skip the base Ghibli (estimated to start around $65,000) and head straight for the pricier, but faster and phenomenally capable 2014 Maserati Ghibli S Q4.

Rationalize it for the all-wheel drive and extra standard features. But buy the Ghibli S Q4 because its twin-turbo V6 delivers an extra 59 horsepower and 37 pound-feet of torque, not to mention a sweet, melodic and so very Italian sound from the tailpipes. Maserati knows how to tune an exhaust, even when it's muffled by turbos, and the Ghibli S Q4 rips, pops and snarls like nothing in the class.

Ghibli, Part III
The 195.7-inch-long Ghibli has nothing to do with the two-door, two-seat, V8 Ghibli Maserati produced in the late '60s to early '70s. Or the Biturbo-based Ghibli II of the '90s.

2014 Maserati Ghibli

It shares much of its pedigree with the larger, and recently redesigned, 2014 Maserati Quattroporte sedan. As Maserati's CEO Harald Wester openly admitted, the Ghibli "is about 45-50 percent from the Quattroporte."

The two cars are built at the same Grugliasco factory outside Turin, and much of the Ghibli's core architecture, including the chassis, suspension and turbo V6 are shared with the flagship Quattroporte.

Prancing Horse Power
As with the Quattroporte, it's Ferrari, not Maserati that builds the Ghibli's 3.0-liter V6 engines at its factory in Maranello. With twin turbos, direct injection, variable valve timing and an intercooler for each turbo, this is a fully modern mill. Both the rear-drive base Ghibli and the all-wheel-drive S Q4 use a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission, with identical gear ratios.

The base V6 produces 345 hp at 5,000 rpm and 369 lb-ft of torque from 1,750-4,500. Mash the throttle to the floor with the tach hovering at 2,000 rpm and there's some turbo lag. But as the needle winds past three grand, the turbos come fully onboard and then it's a lusciously smooth surge of power to the 6,500-rpm soft rev limiter. It's amply quick, but not what you'd call "espresso gusto."

There's a snarly exhaust note, including some frisky burbling and popping under decel thanks to exhaust flaps that open when the Sport button is pressed.

2014 Maserati Ghibli

If you want a horse with some real giddy-up, however, the 2014 Maserati Ghibli S Q4 is a must. It uses different camshafts, a reworked engine management system and increased boost to help the same 3.0-liter V6 crank out a potent 404 hp at 5,500 rpm and 406 lb-ft from 1,750-5,000 rpm. There's a decided crackle with every upshift in this tune, and it delivers the kind of push-you-into-the-back-of-your-seat snap that's lacking in the base version.

The eight-speed automatic is a smooth operator. It feels tuned differently for the lower-horsepower Ghibli, with lazy throttle blips in Sport/Manual modes. It offers more immediate responses with the S Q4, and is so on its game that in Auto/Sport mode it automatically downshifts (with proper throttle blips) under hard braking.

For the first time in Maserati's history, there's a diesel, but it's not coming to the States, at least not for now. Maser brass hinted a new engine is in the works which will be considered for North America. With 275 hp and 443 lb-ft of instant torque along with a non-diesel-like high-pitched exhaust note, the diesel Ghibli responds with verve and agility that makes it considerably more fun than any oil burner we can remember.

Perfect Balance
A big part of why we found the diesel so fun to drive was the Ghibli's spot-on handling. You can thank the 50/50 weight distribution for this (51/49 for the AWD S Q4), which makes it one of the most balanced sport sedans on the road.

The front double-wishbone suspension is aluminum-intensive and there's a five-link setup at the rear. The test cars we drove were fitted with the optional Skyhook adaptive damping system. Normal mode does a more than adequate job of keeping harsh road irregularities out of the cabin, but the stiffer setting is where you want it on back roads.

There's little body roll and near-zero understeer. The 3,990-pound Ghibli carves through turns like a freshly sharpened cleaver, without the need for the usual midcorner throttle adjustments. Better still, feed in a healthy throttle prod at apex for some easily controllable tail-out action.

2014 Maserati Ghibli

Everything the base 2014 Maserati Ghibli does, the higher-horsepower AWD S Q4 does better. The torque-vectoring AWD system is tuned for rear-drive fun. According to Maserati, the power rarely ventures beyond 35 percent to the front wheels, and never more than 50/50. And unlike most AWD systems, the S Q4 doesn't hamper driving fun with added understeer, or the complete elimination of corner-exit oversteer.

The S Q4's extra speed is handled by 14.2-inch cross-drilled front rotors with 13.8-inch rotors at the rear, both clamped by six-piston Brembo calipers. Once past some initial pedal-travel sponginess, the system hauled the Ghibli down quickly and securely.

If there's a flaw to this new Maser dynamically, it's the steering. The base Ghibli felt particularly artificial in its assist (even though it's hydraulic) with an odd rubberiness off-center. The diesel had the most natural feel, and we were having so much fun driving the bananas out of the S Q4 that the steering barely bothered us.

Interior Could Be Better
If there's an area where Maserati cut costs to hit a price point, it's in the Ghibli's cabin. Sure, there's leather everywhere, but it's mostly unpadded and not the expensive-feeling, buttery-soft variety. There's a sumptuousness missing, as well as a lack of over-the-top Italian styling.

The wood trim looks nice enough, but run your finger along it and you'll find the occasional sharp edge. Then there are the Chrysler parts-bin window switches, and a climate control layout that looks pedestrian.

2014 Maserati Ghibli

The final ergonomic snafu relates to the "elongated" (Maser's term) steering-column-mounted paddle shifters. They're easy to find for a quick shift, but we got hung up on the left paddle every time we went for the turn signal.

There are also a lot of good bits inside. The thick front seats are superbly comfortable, with ample lateral and lumbar support. The industrial-grade interior door openers have a comforting heft and there's an air-conditioned center armrest bin.

Plus, unlike the Audi A7, Mercedes CLS and Porsche Panamera, the Ghibli offers a standard fifth seat. And while BMW's 6 Series Gran Coupe is also a five-seater, the Ghibli offers rear headroom galore.

The trunk is above average for the class, at 17.7 cubic feet, and the 60/40-split folding rear seat has a usefully large pass-through.

No Rationalization Needed
The 2014 Maserati Ghibli is aimed at some established German performers. And we weren't joking when we said we'd skip the base Ghibli and go straight to the S Q4 model when the cars go on sale in late September. It's that much better.

Sure, the Ghibli's interior needs more polish, but the straight-line speed is there and the Maser will take a carving knife to the class when the road gets twisty.

But is there even a need to cross-shop a Maserati Ghibli? Simply get in, sit down, thumb the left-side starter button and breathe it all in as those quad exhausts bark to life. If you get tingly with excitement, you've found your new sport sedan.

Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.



  • agentorange agentorange Posts:

    The styling looks good in some colours and not so clever in others. That character line running from the vents along the doors and droops just before the rear door handle is not working for me. The front end seems OK in some pictures and not in others. Angle? Model? Colour? Different camera lens? Dunno. The interior has a touch of the blahs compared to the last Quattroporte. This car looks oddly generic whereas the old one was like stepping into the library of an Italian stately home. I'm not into the small, squinty looking headlights that are becoming the new fad. They give too many cars the face of a weird genetic experiment about to win a dog show. It's a shame because the car looks so nearly there. I guess I just love the old Quattroporte styling too much. ;-(

  • zoomzoomn zoomzoomn Posts:

    If there's a flaw, it might be in the steering, but it's also that this car is so non-descript in it's appearance that it will not hold you in awe if it were to pass by you. This is one un-inspiring Masser to look at! :(

  • d550 d550 Posts:

    A handsome design vs. the German squares, but still too conservative and noticably clumsy from certain angles- if any marque should be doing a "4 door coupe" style sedan, certainly Maserati is one of them. The various renderings of the Ghibli were quite a bit more stylish: http://put.edidomus.it/auto/mondoauto/attualita/foto/406538_8160_xl_2013-Maserati-Ghibli-11.jpg http://i.auto-bild.de/ir_img/1/0/5/7/8/7/1/Maserati-Ghibli-729x486-4252752b204f9312.jpg This production design is nice, but Callum's Jaguar XF remains far and away the style leader of the class.

  • d550 d550 Posts:

    A handsome design vs. the German squares, but still too conservative and noticably clumsy from certain angles- if any marque should be doing a "4 door coupe" style sedan, certainly Maserati is one of them. The various renderings of the Ghibli were quite a bit more stylish: http://put.edidomus.it/auto/mondoauto/attualita/foto/406538_8160_xl_2013-Maserati-Ghibli-11.jpg http://i.auto-bild.de/ir_img/1/0/5/7/8/7/1/Maserati-Ghibli-729x486-4252752b204f9312.jpg This production design is nice, but Callum's Jaguar XF remains far and away the style leader of the class.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    Looks aside, I think the main thing Maserati was trying to focus on (other than downsizing while maintaining the "sports sedan" focus) is longevity of the interior materials. Seriously, if you've ever seen a 5-10 year old Maserati, you'd understand that these things don't age well- the interior might be beautiful at first, but that's only true only parts literally start falling off. If Maserati improves on that while maintaining fit and finish, I think a lot of owners can deal with slightly more "conservative" designs and a downrent appearance on their entry-level model.

  • aaronleong aaronleong Posts:

    The front 3/4 view looks like Scion FR-S, and I don't mean that as a compliment for a $65k car.

  • huisj huisj Posts:

    The back looks like a new Kia Forte.

  • cjasis cjasis Posts:

    I'm glad I'm not the only one that isn't swooning over this cars looks. Couple that with expected worse than average reliability and horrendous depreciation and I'd pass.

  • bsegalis bsegalis Posts:

    Looking and it and the Quattroporte, I can tell you guys what's bothering you about the styling. There are rules about proportions that are pleasing to the human eye. The designers here appear to have violated those rules, meaning that, for example, the wheelbase looks too long for the car's size, and the wheel arch size also seems out of proportion. It's hard to judge the car's styling when you can't comprehend it visually as a single piece. It just doesn't work.

  • cbrandi_ cbrandi_ Posts:

    Guess we have to see it in the flesh before casting final judgement. The photos don't have that "wow" factor. It's certainly no Jaguar XF, a truly beautiful car. It looks not unlike the generic German cars it will compete with. Could this be intentional, trying to appeal to the uber-suburbia crowd? I will take a spin just to tryout the Ferrari engine. Could be a real drivers sedan? Hope so.

  • From a distance, looks like a Buick.

  • From a distance, looks like a Buick.

  • ecomora ecomora Posts:

    I'm 63 years old now, and I finally can afford the Ghibli S Q4. Will I buy or lease one? Maybe after a couple years, while they get the car up to full standards in a number of facets. You see, I'm a Maserati aficionado since I was a little boy back in Brooklyn. It seems that the trident always hinted at a different lineage of automobile, sleek, different, usually fast. especially its racing models... although there were faster cars always around. The first Ghibli won my heart at first sight, and then Maserati fell into the same hole that auto manufacturers were all in when the squarish 1980's biturbo came into being. Now I will go through the automobile with a fine tooth comb. I do not want Chrysler parts bin items in an $80,000 vehicle. I like properly-weighted steering and a sumptuous interior with nicely laid out gauges and fine to the touch switchgear... Are you listening out there in Maser land. So, from what I have been reading and exposed to know is a half-baked cream puff of a car. Get it fully right and you may see 25,00 to 30,000 on the road... but I think, under all circumstances now, 50,000 units may be an optimistic number. I'll just bide my time, read the reviews, take a couple test drives and, somewhere down the line, decide whether I want to fulfill my dream of owning the Ghibli, or taking a pass for some other affordable exotic, which I just know is in the making right now by other manufacturers. Build it right and they/I will come. Keep it the same and possibly suffer the consequences. It's Maserati's choice.

  • cbrandi_ cbrandi_ Posts:

    Just returned from the Maserati Dealer, the car has presence, but from the rear its fails to make a statement, looking like any other car. Not unlike BMW. Other prestige brands do a better job of advertising their presence for all angles, think MB or Audi. Audi's may be ugly but you know its an Audi. The Ghibli is large, inside and outside. The trunk is huge. The interior is a disappointment, very plan unless you opt for the extended leather package. Color choices are mostly boring, not unlike German sedans, blacks and grays. The Blue Passione color is gorgeous and it looks good in white. Dark colors make it look drab. Owing to the snow and ice around I opted to postpone my test drive.

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