Maserati Ghibli review - can the Italian exec live with the German elite?

Charismatic, good looking and distinctive - but lacking in substance compared to German rivals

With the intention of tapping into a wider market outside of sports cars and large luxury saloons, the Ghibli is Maserati’s take on a mid-sized Mercedes-Benz E-Class rival, but with a soupçon of Italian flair and panache thrown in.

As with the new Levante SUV, which has rocketed out of showrooms, Maserati is leaning on it’s illustrious badge with the Ghibli, trying to expand its brand into more lucrative market sectors where key competitors like BMW and Mercedes-Benz hold sway.

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Available exclusively with six-cylinder engines, the Maserati Ghibli may lack the breadth of engine choices that German rivals can muster, but there is no denying the draw of that badge and those looks.

> Click here for our review of the Maserati Levante SUV

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Initially released in 2013, the Ghibli has just gone through a minor upgrade for 2017, upgrading key tech features like the infotainment system and finally offering a basic level of driver assist technologies like autonomous emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.

Starting at just over £50,000, the Ghibli may have the right badge, but it is also up against the most talented suite of rivals in the business, so does it have enough substance to satisfy the badge?

Maserati Ghibli: in detail

Performance and 0-62mph time > The most performance-orientated Ghibli S model hist 62mph in 5 seconds flat, while the diesel takes 6.4s. Not slow, but then not especially fast either.

Engine and gearbox > The Ghibli is only available with a suite of six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines connected exclusively to an 8-speed automatic gearbox.

Ride and Handling > Thanks to a lardy kerb weight, the Ghibli doesn’t quite exhibit the handling finesse you would expect from a manufacturer more noted for its sports cars.

MPG and running costs > MPG for the diesel is a mediocre 47.8mpg, but as rivals continually improve diesel and petrol efficiency, the Ghibli is starting to fall behind.

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Interior and tech > Recently updated to include the upgraded infotainment from the Levante SUV, the interior is a master-class in perceived, if not actual, quality. 

Design > The Ghibli’s roots are clear in the design, with a typically Italian look that is far more appealing than bland German opposition.

Prices spec and rivals

The Ghibli is priced at just over £50,000 for the entry-level diesel model with 271bhp, at this price point it represents a £3-4k premium over rivals like the BMW 530d and Mercedes-Benz E350d. For that price, the Ghibli does lack features that the Germans offer as standard like LED headlights or active safety tech, but gets an interior with a more luxurious feel.

Just under £55,000 will get you the entry petrol powered Ghibli with 345bhp, a car that only really has the BMW 540i or sleek but ageing Mercedes CLS400 to compete with. This standard Ghibli may represent better value than the flagship S, but also occupies a strange gap in the UK market, appealing more to diesel un-friendly markets like the US.

The Ghibli S meanwhile starts at just under £65,000, where your extra ten or so thousand pounds buys you an extra 70bhp and not much else if honest. At this price point, rivals like the Mercedes-AMG E43 undercut the Ghibli significantly while offering far more equipment, meanwhile, larger options like the BMW 6-series Gran Coupe start making their presence felt. 

If there is one thing to note when it comes to the Maserati Ghibli, it is that although pricing on the whole may seem acceptable considering the heritage associated with the Maserati badge, most of what makes a Maserati feel like a luxury Italian saloon is relegated to the pricey options list.

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Features like waxy, high-quality leather, Ferrari-like column mounted paddle shifters or elaborate wheels are all optional extras and take the price far above most rivals. Not only this, but significant gaps in active safety and other convenience features all harm the value equation. 

If you are after a bit of variety in your mid-sized saloon, the Maserati also has the Volvo S90 and Jaguar XF to compete against, although the Volvo lacks six-cylinder options, the forthcoming T8 plug-in hybrid and a lovely cabin might just be enough to sway potential buyers. The Jaguar XF is the most dynamically sorted option in the class, and rivals the basic petrol Ghibli with it’s own S variant at around £50k.

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