For years, the lineup from Italian automaker Maserati consisted of exotic and exclusive cars with accordingly high price tags. And then along came the Ghibli, a car that's sized and priced to compete with the Mercedes E-Class and the Audi A6. The Ghibli's fastback profile echoes that of the bigger Quattroporte sedan, and its wailing engine and divine handling give it a unique look and feel when compared to its German rivals.
Unfortunately, if you've spent any time in a Chrysler product, you'll understand right away how Maserati keeps the Ghibli's costs down. Maserati is owned by Fiat Chrysler, and the Ghibli's leather-lined interior makes extensive use of shared corporate buttons, knobs and switches. The quality of those parts is just fine, but if by some chance you've owned or rented a Dodge Charger or a Chrysler 200, you're going to find the Ghibli a bit less exotic. On the other hand, once you hear the siren song of the Ferrari-sourced engine and experience the Ghibli's near-perfect handling balance, you'll find it easy to forgive the foibles of this Italian exotic.
Current Maserati Ghibli
Maserati offers the Ghibli in base, S and S Q4 trims. All are very nicely equipped, with a leather-lined interior, power-adjustable seats and steering column, and a comprehensive infotainment system with navigation. The Ghibli S adds a more powerful engine, upgraded brakes, even more leather on the dash and doors, and a few other comfort and convenience features. The S Q4 is identical but for the addition of all-wheel drive. Unlike German luxury cars, which have dozens of stand-alone options, the extras on the Ghibli are largely grouped into packages, though you can get some individual extras.
All Ghibli models are powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 engine, tuned for 350 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque in the base model and 410 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque in the S and S Q4. Both engine versions use an eight-speed automatic transmission, with rear-wheel drive for the base Ghibli and the S and all-wheel drive for the Ghibli S Q4. Performance is strong from the 350-hp engine, but it's the the 410-hp engine that delivers truly pulse-quickening performance. Dial up the driver-selectable Sport mode and you'll be rewarded with the most tantalizing engine note this side of a Ferrari. That's no surprise as Ferrari, another Fiat Chrysler sibling, is responsible for the Ghibli's engine.
The Maserati Ghibli's steering is not as exciting. It's a hydraulic system, which should give it more natural feedback, but it has the overly light and slightly artificial feel of badly designed electric power steering. But even that can't mar the experience of the Ghibli's handling, which is perfectly balanced, exhibits almost no understeer and is incredibly easy to control at the limits of traction. This is one of the best — if not the best — midsize luxury sport sedans we've driven.
Even when you aren't burning up the pavement, there's a lot to like about the Ghibli. The interior is awash in leather, though some of the ergonomics are a little awkward and the use of shared Fiat Chrysler switchgear can be a bit off-putting (especially if you recognize the pieces from less expensive Dodge, Chrysler and Fiat products). The seats are well padded and comfortable, and there's plenty of headroom in the back seat, a rarity among fastback cars. The trunk is larger than most midsize luxury sedans, approaching the volume of the Audi A7 hatchback. For all its sporting intentions, the Ghibli offers a reasonably comfortable ride, giving it the unusual feel of an Italian exotic that you can use every day.
Used Maserati Ghibli Models
The third-generation Maserati Ghibli came to the United States for the 2014 model year. For 2015, navigation and 19-inch wheels became standard. Maserati shuffled around the equipment levels. In 2016, Maserati gave the Ghibli more standard equipment and the midlevel S trim, along with an optional Zegna interior package. For 2017, the Ghibli received new safety and driver assistance features, updated option packages, and an improved interface for the infotainment system.
The second-generation Ghibli was a two-door coupe, built from 1992 until 1998, which was right in the middle of Maserati's 12-year absence from the U.S. market. It was an evolution of the boxy Biturbo (which was sold in the States), powered by a small twin-turbo V6 engine producing up to 325 hp.
Maserati produced the original Ghibli from 1967 until 1973 and offered the slick-looking, two-seat grand touring car as both a coupe and a convertible. It featured four-cam V8 engines that produced between 306 and 330 horsepower.