Sure to get wind up ri­vals

The stylish and high-per­for­mance Ghi­bli S is a treat to drive at many lev­els, PETER BARN­WELL writes

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE -

MASERATI is on the march from a rather ob­scure but sexysound­ing Fer­rari sec­ond cousin to a gen­uine con­tender in the luxury sports sedan/coupe, road­ster seg­ments.

A cou­ple of years ago they sold a few thou­sand Masers in­ter­na­tion­ally. This year that will be more like 75,000, many from a new, pur­pose-built Ital­ian fac­tory.

It’s a huge in­crease mostly driven by Chi­nese and North Amer­i­can de­mand for the new Qu­at­tro­porte big sa­loon car and, of course, an en­hanced prod­uct range with more to come.

Now there’s an­other, more com­pact but equally ap­peal­ing four-door “coupe” called the Ghi­bli priced from $138,900 for the diesel. The name harks back to the 1967 and un­for­tu­nately, de­spite the ro­man­tic sound, means “hot wind”.

Ghi­bli tar­gets a younger au­di­ence than the larger Qu­at­tro­porte and is a sportier thing to drive and to look at as well as be­ing more af­ford­able.

The Ghi­bli range will even­tu­ally ex­tend to about half a dozen ve­hi­cles in­clud­ing a V8 ver­sion or two but for now, it’s three cars, the Ghi­bli and Ghi­bli S twin-turbo petrol 3.0-litre V6s and the Ghi­bli 3.0-litre turbo diesel. Both petrols are from Fer­rari, the diesel is from VM Mo­tori in Europe.

All look pretty much the same, apart from wheel sizes that range from 18-21-inch di­am­e­ter.

Char­ac­ter­is­tic Maserati de­sign de­tails dom­i­nate the Ghi­bli’s looks – the ver­ti­cal tooth grille with large tri­dent badge, the di­a­mond shape side vents, the long bonnet, short tail, the sharp char­ac­ter lines and the an­gry look­ing head­lights. The win­dows are frame­less and the door to win­dow glass ra­tio is 2:1.

Though it uses nu­mer­ous “ex­otic’’ ma­te­ri­als in its unusual chas­sis and body struc­ture as well as weld­ing, bond­ing, bolt­ing and riv­et­ing fix­ing sys­tems, the Ghi­bli still tips the scales at a sub­stan­tial 1850kg or there­abouts. It scores a five-star crash rat­ing with all that de­liv­ers.

The Ghi­bli is pitched more as a GT-style car rather than a sports sedan.

In other words, more ca­pa­ble on the in­ter­state free­way or wind­ing moun­tain road than on the track.

The drive car was a $169,900 Ghi­bli S – the higher out­put petrol V6 with a twin-turbo in­stal­la­tion and di­rect fuel in­jec­tion along with vari­able cam tim­ing and other en­gine tech­nol­ogy de­signed to op­ti­mise per­for­mance with­out dent­ing fuel econ­omy too much. It’s good for 301kW/550Nm out­put while sip­ping fuel at around 10.0 litres/100km

Power goes to the rear wheels through a ZF eight­speed auto with pad­dle shift and mul­ti­ple, driver se­lect modes, then a limited slip diff.

Maserati of­fers the Ghi­bli with gen­er­ous spec­i­fi­ca­tion but an ex­ten­sive range of “per­son­al­i­sa­tion’’ op­tions and fea­ture choices al­lows the car to be vir­tu­ally cus­tom built – with a three-month lead time.

The Ghi­bli sounds nearly as good as the V8 Masers thanks to care­ful at­ten­tion to the ex­haust and an ac­tive sound sys­tem.

On the road the Ghi­bli S is a treat to drive at many lev­els. The hy­draulic steer­ing is pre­cise, well weighted and re­spon­sive but with a lar­gish turn­ing cir­cle.

The multi-pis­ton Brembo brakes bite large di­am­e­ter discs with­out wilt­ing un­der pres­sure and the huge sec­tion tyres grip the road wet or dry. It has a 50:50 weight dis­tri­bu­tion and cor­ners like a sports sedan, though the sus­pen­sion is a touch too soft for Aussie back roads. Adaptive “Sky hook’’ sus­pen­sion should fix that.

The Ghi­bli S has plenty of kick and puts away a 0-100kmh sprint in 5.0 seconds neat, the lower spec car takes 5.6 and the diesel about 6.3 but on the up­side of that is the diesel’s fuel econ­omy rated at 5.9litres/100km.

The in­te­rior is Ital­ian plush with beau­ti­fully crafted seats and in­te­rior fas­cia, stylish di­als and easy to use con­trols, in­clud­ing a large touch screen in the mid­dle. The au­dio is by Bow­ers and Wilkins.

Some driver as­sist tech­nol­ogy is pro­vided but not as much as some of the other high end Euro mid size sedans.

Stu­pen­dous and stylish, heaps of per­for­mance and luxury. Could give heart­burn to the likes of Benz CLS and EClass, Audi A6/7 and BMW 5Series. The V8 should be awe­some. Four stars out of five.

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