Maserati Ghibli Diesel Review

Maserati is a car-maker that has been on the rise in recent years, at the turn of the decade the Italian company was selling around 6,000 cars worldwide, by 2015 this number had risen to a staggering 33,000 units. This is without the upcoming soon to be released Levante SUV which arrives towards the end of 2016.

Currently, Maserati’s best seller is the stunning looking Ghibli, the diesel model I’m driving here accounts for over 90% of sales, I am going to refrain from calling the diesel an entry level model as it’s merely a choice of what engine type you prefer to go with that rather fetching looking body.

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This revised 2016 model now features such additions such as a new 8.4in colour touchscreen infotainment system with a higher resolution display, you also get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto covering all eventualities of your choice of input, Maserati’s engineers have also been busy improving the sound insulation on the Ghibli to make it a quieter, more comfortable place to be.

The Ghibli’s main rivals are the mass selling BMW 535d and Mercedes E350d, both are excellent cars, but, the Maserati badge does have that individuality attached to it. The UK’s motorways are covered with 535d’s and E350d’s which is not a bad thing at all, however, when you see a Ghibli on the road it is still something of an event due to the combination of the stunning visuals and relative rarity.

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Brand enthusiasts will remember the Ghibli in its previous form – a rather stunning looking Guigiaro-designed V8-powered GT car built from 1966, the name was also used on the square angled mid-1990s four-seater coupe styled by Gandini. Most Maserati fans would prefer to remember the earlier model rather than the one from the 90’s.

The Visuals

The Ghibli is definitely a beautiful looking car, just look at it, when parked in a car park next to a sea of grey rep-mobiles it just stands out as something special to look at.

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The handsome looking body design offers a hint of sporting ability tinged with a slightly aggressive appearance, all this handsomeness is actually functional, giving the Ghibli a low drag coefficient of 0.31 that helps to reduce fuel consumption and emissions and the like.

For me personally, the Ghibli is simply a very good looking car from all angles, its trademark current generation Maserati everywhere you look, starting at the front you get the signature grille surrounded by low mounted distinctive looking headlamps, from here you get a long sculpted bonnet leading you to the sides of the car where you will find the traditional trio of chrome surround air vents on the front wings of the car. The story continues much the same as you make your way towards the back of the cars which is finished with a quad exhaust.

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The Ghibli is just a car to look at that has that certain something, call it Italian flair, beautiful design ethos; it simply has a presence about it.

On The Inside

The central point of the inside of the Ghibli is the 8.4in colour touchscreen controlled via a BMW iDrive-style rotary controller. Optional safety tech such as lane departure, blind spot monitoring, city braking, cross traffic and a 360 degree surround view are available, overall it’s a nice place to be, Maserati have kept things simple for the driver with simple to read driver information screens in the dash and everything is where you would expect it to be, as in within easy reach.

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Now, whilst the interior is a nice place to be some of the materials contained within it aren’t as premium as what I was expecting, Maserati prides itself on being an exclusive and luxuriousness car-maker, however, the Ghibli was some way off in this aspect, some of the plastics and materials used just didn’t feel very, well, you know, Maserati like. Some of the switches feel a little cheap, combine this with a few scratchy surfaces and items such as the infotainment screen surround which would look right at home in a car costing far less, you get the picture.

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For the most part these minor quality issues are outweighed by the plus points, the seats are very comfortable, in the back an actual adult can be seated in some comfort with actual legroom, the noise cancelling of the revised sound deadening works fairly well, my test car was equipped with the 20-inch wheel option so rolling noise was likely increased somewhat.

The Driving

Calling the Ghibli Diesel an entry-level is a misuse of the term, it’s essentially a choice of if you want a petrol motor or a diesel one depending on your needs. The diesel motor equipped within the pretty body work is a 271bhp 3.0-litre V6 motor mated to a revised and more responsive eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox.

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The Ghibli’s setup allows you the choice of three driving modes, called ICE (Increased Control and Efficiency), Normal and Sport modes, are easily explained. Sport simply holds the gears while adding  weight to the the steering and, my test car was equipped with the optional Skyhook damper setup (£2,045) which stiffens the suspension when selecting Sport mode,  the Ghibli tips the scales at 1,875kg dry, this is not exactly light and this is not an out and out sports car so it drives as I would expect it to with the additional weight of the diesel motor over the front wheels, the change of direction is more than capable, but lacks the eagerness of say the current outgoing 5-series which feels more dialled in with sharper driving dynamics.

The ride quality possibly suffers slightly due to the combination of the 20-inch wheels optioned on my test car when combined with the Skyhook dampers, whilst never uncomfortable; on occasions the Ghibli reacted harshly to minor road imperfections but was able to deal with larger imperfections by absorbing them to a greater degree, this is a minor grumble at worst as you could easily spend many hours covering many miles in the Ghibli.

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The engine itself is a powerful feeling unit, you get a huge amount of low down real-world useable torque, peak torque of 443lbft is available from 2000-2600rpm. The motor also has a slight hint of diesel grumble about it but this is quashed by the soundtrack, which is a result of actuators located in the exhaust system, when I met the nice people from Maserati they informed me that the remit for the diesel motor was a simple one, the sound must be in keeping with the Maserati heritage, as in, it must sound like a Maserati should. Whilst I know the noise is not completely real and it is essentially a tuned digital enhancement of sorts, I don’t care as the Ghibli Diesel emits a fantastic noise, a deep bellowing V8 noise of sorts even though it’s an oil burner with only six-cylinders.

The gearbox is almost a non-event in the Ghibli, my test car was not equipped with any paddle shifters so it was a standard automatic, the smoothness of the changes was excellent, so much that the only reason you know you have changed ratios is because the revs drop, as you just don’t feel it change at all, even under hard acceleration.

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The Ghibli whilst offering plenty of torque and power when compared to its nearest German rivals does lose out against them with its overall pace, 0-62mph takes 6.3 seconds, in a drag race against a 535d, it would be left in its wake as it’s almost an entire second behind (vs 5.4 seconds 0-62mph). In the real world, this is pretty much irrelevant, the Ghibli is a strong drive but does lack that crispness of its German rivals.

Verdict 

Maserati has done a great job with the Ghibli, its new infotainment system makes for a far more pleasurable experience. It also comes with a strong level of standard kit, including leather seats, sat-nav, xenon headlights and climate control.

When you pit the Maserati Ghibli Diesel next to its German rivals, it’s simply not as quick, quiet, refined, or as agile as its rivals, however, the visuals are quite stunning to look at and this alone makes it worth considering if you want something a little different and unique from the safe and somewhat obvious choices of a 535d or an E350d.

Combine these visuals with the exhaust note and the fact that it’s a premium badge that will give you exclusivity and rarity over most other choices in this market sector, as long as you can live with its fairly minor imperfections then the Ghibli is worth your consideration.

Technical Specification:

Price £49,860 (as tested £59,800.00)

Engine V6, 2987cc, diesel

Power 271bhp at 4000rpm

Torque 443lb ft at 2000-2600rpm

Gearbox 8-speed automatic

Kerb weight 1875kg

0-62mph 6.3sec

Top speed 155mph

Economy 47.9mpg (combined)

CO2/tax band 158g/km, 31%

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REVIEW OVERVIEW
The Visuals
On The Inside
The Driving
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Editor, road test reviewer, news & features writer for livetodrive.co.uk Freelance motoring writer for hire. Car guy until the end, creator and owner of livetodrive.co.uk, chosen tribe leader of Live To Drive at Drivetribe.com Tech fan and twitter addicted. Please save the cars! Car fan, BMW E39 owner and fixer and occasional cross country driver.