2015 would be the second year of Maserati’s Big Plan – World Domination (sort of). They felt confident enough to boost their exclusive brand into new segments and push car sales into levels they had never achieved before. The 2015 Maserati Ghibli was key to their plans.
The Modena carmaker was more comfortable in their role as a bespoke Italian manufacturer who produced high-end performance models on a limited scale. So, trying to rapidly expand company revenue, by offering a lower cost (by comparison to other Trident models) automobile that would be mass-produced, was a serious challenge.
While the ‘Maestro’s of Modena’ had a long history of making quality engines with high performance and driving ability, they were not so well known for their technological prowess within the cabin. Luxurious interiors laid out with sumptuous leather, wood and carbon fiber were always readily available, however the level of tech installed, compared to their illustrious rivals, was not.
Maserati would be stepping into an arena that had been the stomping ground for the three major German car brands – Mercedes-Benz; BMW & Audi – as well as the refined carmaker from the UK – Jaguar. These four manufacturers were well versed in the executive sedan market and had been the benchmark for this segment for decades. With all four being produced from factories on an industrial scale, their specifications, inside and out, were second to none.
But this ruthless efficiency had a slightly negative effect on all of them, as they were all becoming more amalgamated in their appearance and output. The executive sedan sector was a bit dull and this is where Maserati felt they had a chance to break into this lucrative market. The opportunity to offer the discerning buyer a chance to own something that had been created by a racing car manufacturer from Italy.
While their other models in the fleet (Quattroporte & GranTurismo) would retail between US$100,000 to $150,000, the entry level 2015 Maserati Ghibli cost a mere $65,000. But a fully loaded S Q4 would set you back by almost $100K which put the car into stiff competition. In this price bracket, the Ghibli was up against the Mercedes-Benz CLS Class, BMW 6 Series and the Audi RS7.
The car, Maserati created, would be similar to what your expectations would be: a delightfully looking automobile, inside and out, with incredible driving performance, from its engine and its steering, though lacking in technical fit outs.
Ferrari Under the Hood
Maybe it was no surprise that Maserati would turn to their “stablemate” to provide the engine for this new model. But all out performance was not the priority this time as they had other factors to consider. They were trying to create a more economical automobile and offer something that was very crucial in this sector – a diesel engine.
This would lead the 2015 Maserati Ghibli to have three different 3.0-liter twin turbocharged V6 engines. The petrol engine would be offered in two powertrains; the Base model with 325 bhp and 369 lb-ft of torque while the S and the S Q4 had 404 bhp and 406 lb -ft of torque. Acceleration was at a credible level: 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds and a top speed of 163 mph for the Base and 5 seconds and 177 mph for the S model. The S Q4 had better acceleration but less speed as it made 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds though only hitting 176 mph.
Their third engine would be something Maserati had never offered before – diesel. But how would a car brand, synonymous with high performance and acceleration, create a diesel engine that would befit a Maserati? They turned again to the Ferrari engine expert, Paolo Martinelli. Snr Martinelli was the key engineer for the Scuderia Ferrari team’s V10 engines that powered the FI car of Michael Schumacher, as he won championship after championship.
His expertise would allow the Modena factory to create a diesel engine with some responsiveness. The V6 turbo diesel engine would put out 271 bhp and 420 lb-ft of torque which allowed 0-60 mph in 6.3 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph.
But all produced the all too familiar pop, bang and growl of the Maserati engine that is so alluring.
All of the 2015 Maserati Ghibli models were fitted with the same transmission, an eight-speed 8HP automatic gearbox by ZF. The transmission offers several driving modes – Normal; Sport and ICE. In normal mode, the Ghibli is very refined and quiet as it completes its tasks with a minimum of fuss. For economy driving, within urban areas, it is advised to use the ICE (Increased Control Efficiency) which reduces the engine and transmission for efficiency and better fuel economy.
To enjoy more of the thrill, of what Maserati offers, then engage the Sport mode. This livens up the throttle and quickens the shift changes while pushing the rev count up to the redline. The transmission can be put into a manual mode which allows the driver to dictate the gear changes and select through the gear stick or the shift paddles on the steering column (though these are an optional feature).
Riding the Rails
The driving experience of the 2015 Maserati Ghibli would be thrilling as responsive steering, perfect balance and driver assistance aids ensure an exhilarating ride.
The car would have almost perfect weight distribution that helped it hug the road and make excellent cornering. Steering was crisp and immediate which allowed high speed maneuverability and experienced little over or under steer or drift. The installation of driving aids, that included both stability and traction control as well as anti-lock brakes. This would give the driver a level of confidence that they could attack corners and tight bends and exit them with speed, knowing the car would make the turn as if riding on rails. But the driver assists would make sure that the excitement did not get out of hand.
Standard suspension was quite firm which was not so forgiving on the passengers. It would be recommended to upgrade to the adaptive ‘Skyhook’ suspension that could smooth out the aggressive driving and minimize the body roll.
Maserati would base the bodywork of the Ghibli on its larger cousin, Quattroporte VI. The new car would be 11 inches shorter than the other four door sedan but would still maintain the former’s body shape. The Ghibli would sport a seductive look from its fluid lines front to back. These flowing contours would make this new entry a standout in the executive sedan sector by comparison to the other “homogenized” Teutonic automobiles.
The interior can seat five passengers with the front seats offering a comfortable ride and good lumbar support. The back seats enjoy decent headroom though foot space is tight between the seats. While the trunk offers great space as it holds 17.7 cubic feet and this can be increased by the folding down of the rear seats.
The interior is awash with fine textures and surfaces with Poltrona Frau leather covering most of the cabin and complemented by a choice of wood (high-gloss or open pore) and carbon fiber. The fine leather, which is only available to Ferrari and Maserati, covers the seats, side panels, dash, central panel and steering wheel. This can be optioned in a distinctive two-tone combination over the dashboard.
However, reasons only known to the Modena carmaker, the car was fitted out with knobs and switches that are commonly found in mass-produced Fiats and Chryslers. Not really what a luxury sedan should look like.
Wired For Sound
The Infotainment system was installed with a 8.4-inch touchscreen that incorporated all aspects of interior controls. Sat nav, satellite and terrestrial radio, CD player and climate control. All of these were easily accessible by large icons at the bottom of the screen. Bluetooth was now standard and also connectivity was available through USB and other auxiliary ports. But, again, this was the standard system that had been pulled from a Chrysler although it was much easier to use then the systems that were installed in its German rivals.
The sound system had three different options: the standard Harman Kardon eight speaker, a 10-speaker system or a premium Bowers & Wilkins 15 speaker setup.
To ensure that you enjoy the Maserati as it should be, would mean you need to delve into the customization of the interior and exterior. Bespoke color palettes were available for the leather, headliners and piping, while the exterior bodywork paint comes in multiple hues. The Brembo brake calipers are also optioned in different colors to match with the 19-inch standard alloys or they can be customized up to 21 inches.
But the combined cost of these upgrades will push the price up by $20-25,000.
It was certainly true that the technology of the 2015 Maserati Ghibli was below what other executive sedans offered. But, the way the elegant Italian-made sedan looked and handled on the road ensured it would still be a crowd pleaser.