Turn up the sound
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.