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Mercury (Hobart) - Cars Guide - - FIVE THINGS - Richard Black­burn

1 The Ital­ians do it with style What­ever you think of their re­li­a­bil­ity or prac­ti­cal­ity, Ital­ian cars have a sin­gu­lar style and the Ghi­bli is no ex­cep­tion. Our test car’s in­te­rior was dark and for­mal but there was no deny­ing the lux­ury feel, from per­fo­rated leather seats with white stitch­ing to the cow hide-wrapped dash with an el­e­gant ana­log clock. Sporty touches in­clude pad­dle-shifters and a read­out be­tween the tacho and speedo di­als that shows whether you’re in sport or com­fort mode, with di­a­grams of the com­po­nents that have been tweaked for sportier re­sponses.

2 There are quib­bles, though The cabin’s wood­grain fin­ishes didn’t look par­tic­u­larly con­vinc­ing and the gear selec­tor, which looks a lot like it came from the BMW parts bin, is fid­dly to use — you’re never sure whether you’ve picked park, drive or neu­tral. The rear seats aren’t ex­actly built for big­ger bod­ies ei­ther — we had a hatch­back at the same time and there wasn’t much dif­fer­ence in rear legroom. The trip com­puter also did our heads in, as it re­sets ev­ery time the car’s stop-start kills the en­gine. Af­ter our reg­u­lar road test route the trip me­ter told us we’d av­er­aged 43.5L/100km over two and a half hours’ driv­ing — V8 su­per­cars don’t use much more dur­ing the Bathurst 1000.

3 The en­gine needs stir­ring Tweaked for 2017, the Fer­rari-built twin-turbo V6 de­liv­ers 257kW/500Nm. Maserati claims a 0-100km/h time of 5.6 sec­onds, which is pretty handy. Around town, though, it doesn’t feel very quick, which is strange for a force-fed en­gine. The lack of im­me­di­ate re­sponse may be due to max­i­mum torque com­ing in at a high 4000rpm. Se­lect sport mode, take it to the busi­ness end of the rev counter and the V6 re­ally sings and the in­tu­itive eight-speed auto keeps it in the sweet spot for max­i­mum drive out of cor­ners.

4 It’s a hoot on a wind­ing road The Ghi­bli adapts to its sur­round­ings well. Around town and cruis­ing on the free­way, it’s happy to lope along like a limou­sine. The cabin is quiet and com­fort­able and very few bumps and lumps make them­selves known in the cabin. Head for the hills and the Ghi­bli re­sponds en­thu­si­as­ti­cally. The steer­ing is sharp, the brakes have plenty of bite and the sus­pen­sion is well con­trolled.

5 There’s not enough bang for your buck The Ghi­bli is an im­pres­sive beast — and a re­fresh­ing change from the stan­dard Ger­man lux­ury fare — but the RRP of $143,990 is a bit steep when the awe­some BMW M3 is just $139,900 and the epic Mercedes-Benz C63 S is $158,115. And that’s be­fore you con­sider that Maserati ex­pects you to pay ex­tra for tech­nol­ogy that’s stan­dard on fam­ily SUVs. The op­tional ad­vanced driver as­sis­tance pack­age, which bun­dles adap­tive cruise con­trol with lane de­par­ture warn­ing, au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing and sur­round view cam­era, costs $5384.

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