- Shapely, tailored look
- Luxurious, modern interior
- Strong turbo V-6 engine
- Available all-wheel drive
- Shy on back-seat space
- Whuffling V-6 exhaust just isn't a V-8
- A heavyweight in its class
The Ghibli brings Maserati panache at a lower price in a sleek sedan with a tight back seat and willing turbocharged V-6 power.
The Maserati Ghibli has a name that throws back to the Italian automaker's past, but in its current form the Ghibli sedan only dates back to 2014. It's based on the bigger Quattroporte sedan, but is smaller and not as luxurious. Today's lineup of Ghibli sedans includes the base car, the rear-drive Ghibli S, and the all-wheel-drive Ghibli S Q4.
The Ghibli is a rival for vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz CLS, the Audi A7, BMW's 6-Series Gran Coupe, and the Jaguar XF. It's priced from about $72,000 and runs up to more than $80,000 for the all-wheel-drive Ghibli S Q4.
We rate the Ghibli a 7.2, giving it points for its curvaceous styling, sport sedan handling, and spacious and leather-clad front seat. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
For 2017, the Ghibli's base V-6 engine adds 20 horsepower for a total of 350, increasing the top speed to 166 mph. It also gets Luxury and Sport packages, the new Maserati Touch Plus infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a standard air quality sensor, and several new safety features, including adaptive cruise control with stop and go, lane departure warnings, forward collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, and a surround-view camera system.
Styling and performance
The Ghibli's exterior is an exercise in simple yet brilliant design. The Ghibli is scaled down in size, but the silhouette shares much with the bigger Quattroporte. It's relatively compact for its class, but brilliantly rendered, with a deep shoveled nose bearing a trident badge and grille, sleekly sculpted fenders, and a pert rear end with a roofline that's the chief link between it and the Q-Porte.
The interior is a more sober environment, a generation advanced from the bigger Maserati sedan, just slightly more technical and modern in appearance. There's a reason for that: the dash is shaped like one of its relatives from the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles group, the Jeep Cherokee. It's distanced from its origins with layers of leather and opulent trim choices like open-pore wood, and fitted with huge, cold-to-the-touch paddles for shifting. One of the true joys of owning a Maserati is walking through the color and trim palettes, selecting headliners, choosing between wood or carbon-fiber trims, and picking your gorgeously dyed Poltrona Frau leathers. Still, some lesser cues show up in some plastic trim, and in the parts-bin switches and buttons.
The Ghibli's power comes from a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 engine shared with its bigger brother, the Quattroporte. It comes in two outputs: 350 horsepower in the standard Ghibli, and 410 hp in the Ghibli S and S Q4. One of our favorite features of Maseratis is absent—the mellifluous roar of a potent Ferrari-derived V-8. In its place, the turbo V-6 makes some thrilling noises of its own; it's just of a more throaty, whistling nature, with some resonance at mid-range engine speeds that echoes in the tight back seat.
Maserati says the Ghibli accelerates to 60 mph in just 5.0 seconds, topping out at 177 mph.
An 8-speed automatic transmission is standard on all Ghibli models, and it offers a manual-shift mode that keeps the car from over-revving, but otherwise lets the driver choose the shift points either by the shift lever or the paddles. The standard car is rear-wheel drive; Maserati's Q4 all-wheel-drive system was new for 2015, and adds just a touch over 100 pounds to the car, distributing torque to the front when wheelspin is detected.
The base, rear-drive Ghibli earns 17 mpg city, 24 highway, 19 combined, according to the EPA. The Ghibli S and all-wheel-drive S Q4 manage 16/24/19 mpg.
There's a choice of driving modes, from Economy, Normal, and Sport to a mode with all stability control turned off. You may not want to venture that far out of safety's range, but if you do, the reward is very good handling. The Ghibli has good weight balance for a sedan, and rides on a double-wishbone front suspension, and five-link rear suspension.
In a brief drive of the Q4 on bone-dry roads outside Malibu, the Ghibli was able to carve up tight canyon roads we'd left warm from runs in the hot Alfa Romeo 4C. The Alfa's able to squirt through these roads with needle-like accuracy; the Ghibli's bigger and heavier, of course, but still tackles the same pavement with zest. In Normal mode, the transmission's shifts were smooth and the twin-turbo V-6 was docile and quiet. Flipped into Sport, the Ghibli's throttle and shifts picked up the pace with the reflexes you'd expect from a sport sedan.
Our Ghibli S Q4 was shod with summer tires and rode very firmly—more sport than sedan, something a softer set of all-season tires might resolve, while giving up some ultimate grip. It's damped less fervently, and leans into curves with more grace than hardcore flatness. The hydraulic-actuated steering system doesn't have a super-quick ratio, and it takes a lot of turn at the wheel to carve up corkscrewing roads in the proper Italian way.
Interior, safety, and features
The Ghibli's not a small or light car—it checks in with a 118-inch wheelbase, an overall length of just over 195 inches, and a curb weight hovering in the 4,100-pound range. It cossets the driver and front passenger beautifully, with fine leathers and well-finished plastics edged in metallic trim throughout. The front bucket seats could use more lumbar support, but the backrests are wonderfully bolstered, and slathered in leather with piping and embroidered logos, just like the rest of the cabin.
The NHTSA hasn't crash tested the Ghibli, but the brand says it has targeted a five-star NCAP crash safety rating by including a third force load path and seven standard airbags in addition to its high-strength chassis. The IIHS has given the four-door "Good" ratings in its moderate front overlap, side, roof strength, and head restraint tests, but hasn't subjected it to the tougher small front overlap test.
A rearview camera and Bluetooth are standard. A new Driver Assistance package comes with adaptive cruise control with stop and go, lane departure warnings, forward collision warnings with emergency braking, and a surround view camera system. Blind spot monitors are also offered.
Other available features include a hands-free trunklid, a 900-watt Harman Kardon audio system or a Bowers & Wilkins premium audio system, the new Sport and Luxury packages, Zegna-penned trim packages, in-car wi-fi, and adjustable pedals.