The Maserati Ghibli is back. The famous nameplate has returned not on a new sports coupe, but a more mainstream, sub-Quattroporte saloon that is set to rival the BMW 5-series and Jaguar XF. It has a sportier character than the new, more limo-like Quattroporte, and should pick up the old QP’s baton for challenging the BMW M5 and Jaguar XFR for sports saloon honours. Its styling is very much shrunken-Quattroporte, with similar design cues on a tauter scale. From launch there’ll be a pair of 3-litre V6s, including a circa-270bhp turbodiesel – Maser’s first ever oil-burner – and a twin-turbo petrol unit, set to be available in two states of tune, the highest topping 400bhp. Both petrols and diesels come twinned with the ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox that currently appears in everything from the BMW M135i to Jaguar F-type. The UK will only get rear-wheel-drive Ghiblis, while left-hand-drive markets will have the option of four-wheel drive. A V8 petrol version lies in the pipeline as Maserati’s sportiest saloon offering; this could be the 3.8-litre twin-turbo unit seen in the QP, where it produces 523bhp and is good for a 191mph top speed. Ghibli prices are tipped to start below £50,000 for the diesel when sales begin this summer, and the smaller, less niche model is designed to grab around half of Maserati’s projected 50,000 annual sales by 2015. The Italian company’s new SUV – dubbed the Levante – will also contribute, as the GranTurismo lives on until 2015 at least. The new Maserati Ghibli will be revealed in full at the 2013 Shanghai motor show, which opens on April 21, when firmer performance and spec details are expected.
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