For the most part, the world of executive midsize sedans is founded on a smooth and elegant ride; encased in comfort and high-end technology. But they are all characterless and staid. That was until the Italian carmaker, Maserati, crashed into the market five year ago. By bringing the cachet of Italian panache into the dull arena of executive sedans, meant that discerning customers now had a real choice if they wanted something more alluring and exciting.
Over these years, the Modena factory had sought to ensure the overall standards of their new model would be of an equal footing with their Germanic rivals. The 2018 Maserati Ghibli would be the edition that brought all of these parts together. Three models of the car, each with two different styling upgrades, as well as a plethora of driver assisted safety aids, would make the Ghibli an equal to its competitors but also being a frontrunner in style and performance.
But these upgrades did not come cheap. While the Base model cost US$74,000 and the S and S Q4 went for 80K and 82K respectively, the GranLusso and GranSport editions pushed the price up. The Base was 80K, the S cost 85K and the S Q4 the most at 87K. But with other optional features these figures creep up to nearer the $100,000 mark.
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What was new for the 2018 Maserati Ghibli was a more powerful engine for the S and S Q4 models. The 3.0 liter twin-turbocharged V6 Ferrari engine for these cars now produced more horsepower and torque. They each had 424 bhp and 428 lb-ft or torque which increased their performance as well. While the S model could make the 0-60 mph dash in 4.8 seconds, the S Q4 could do it in 4.7 seconds and both models topped out at 178 mph. The Base model, though less responsive, was still providing decent output. It produced 345 bhp and 369 lb-ft of torque that allowed it to accelerate from 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds and making a top speed of 166 mph.
Their third choice engine would be their biggest challenge. Something that would be highly sought after in several territories, most notably within Europe – a diesel engine. Maserati would look to a Ferrari engine expert to guide them through the development – Paolo Martinelli. Snr Martinelli was well-versed with engines of the “Prancing Horse”, he was responsible for the V10 engines in the racing cars of the Scuderia Ferrari Team that ran for Michael Schumacher, as he won multiple championships.
What he achieved was a very responsive V6 turbo diesel engine with 271 bhp and 420 lb-ft of torque that could make the 0-60 mph sprint in 6.3 seconds and hit a top speed of 155 mph.
All models still utilized the same German made ZF gearbox. The eight-speed 8HP automatic transmission had three driver settings – Normal, Sport & ICE. Running around town, the 2018 Maserati Ghibli would be quiet and well behaved as it drove in ‘normal’. This could be enhanced by activating the ICE (Increased Control & Efficiency) which reduces the engine and transmission for greater efficiency and fuel economy.
But, to get the full enjoyment of the Maserati’s racing heritage, the ‘Sport’ mode must be engaged. This livens up the throttle and quickens the shift changes while pushing the revs nearer to the redline. The gearbox can be set to a manual mode which gives the driver greater control over the gear selection which can be adjusted through the gear stick or via the paddles on the steering column.
This also unleashes the growl of the engine as it bypasses the exhaust baffles so, as you stamp on the accelerator pedal and flick through the gears, the growl, pop and bang of the Ferrari engine is exploding out of the quad pipes at the rear.
The driving experience of the 2018 Maserati Ghibli would be exhilarating as responsive steering, perfect balance and a whole host of driver assistance aids ensure a thrilling ride.
With almost perfect weight distribution front to rear, the car would hug the road and make excellent cornering – as if riding on rails. Handling was immediate and crisp as the Ghibli pointed to wherever you turned the wheel. With minimal understeer or drift, the driver could attack going into tight bends and turns and explode out of the exit with confidence.
But a selection of driver assists would ensure that the “excitement” did not get out of hand. The automobile was fitted with both stability and traction control as well as anti-lock brakes.
However, many felt the “feel” of the front wheels had been lost as the steering was too light.
With the standard suspension system being adequate, although a little firm for some tastes, it could be upgraded to the adaptive ‘Skyhook’ suspension system that took countermeasures to offset the aggressive driving and provide a smoother ride for the occupants.
The 2018 Maserati Ghibli would be a standout amongst the crowd as it offered exciting contours and shapely lines from its iconic grille and dropped nose all the way to the rear. A sedan that held more similarities to an Italian racing car than the other Teutonic autobahn counterparts.
The interior could hold five passengers with the front seats being especially well padded for comfort and lumbar support, making long journeys and fast driving accessible. The backseat had good headroom though foot space was quite tight.
The trunk offered generous space as it allowed for 17.7 cubic feet and this could be added to by the rear seat folding back in a 60/40 split.
As befitting any Italian luxury car, the 2018 Maserati Ghibli interior was awash with sumptuous surfaces and textures. Fine leather from Poltrona Frau would cover most things. From the front and rear seats, the side panels, dash, steering wheel and central panel, all were covered in the finest hide that was strictly reserved for just Maserati and Ferrari. Choices of wood (high gloss or open-pore) and carbon fiber were available for other surfaces and Alcantara suede was used on the Maserati logoed headliners. A variety of hand stitching and piping was also provided in a large choice of contrasting colors.
But the Maserati luxury sedan was still being let down as the carmaker still insisted on using pre-existing knobs and switches that came from other Dodge and Chrysler models. This did not jibe well with the rest of the opulence of the cabin.
The newly upgraded ‘Maserati Touch Plus’ Infotainment system had full connectivity with all smartphones. With both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto there was no longer any issues with linking up while they still offered USB ports as well. The 8.4-inch touchscreen had very easy accessibility as a series of large icons at the bottom of the screen allowed the front passengers to utilize the satellite radio, CD player, sat nav and dual climate control.
The standard set up for the Harman Kardon speakers was with eight though the GranLusso and GranSport offered ten. But if you preferred even more high fidelity, then for an extra cost you could install the Bowers & Wilkins 15 speaker combination.
All models of the 2018 Maserati Ghibli could be given a similar upgrade finish – GranLusso (luxury) or GranSport (sporty).
The Luxury provided additional trim to the interior and chrome accents to the outside as well as ventilated front seats, hands-free power trunk, 10 speaker Harman Kardon system and driver aids such as: blind-spot monitoring; rear cross-traffic alert; front and rear parking sensors and a surround view camera.
The Sport provided aerodynamic enhancements to the bodywork, 19–21-inch alloys with red Brembo brake calipers, adaptive suspension, sports wheel, sport seats, shift paddles, blind-spot monitoring and front and rear parking sensors.
But if the buyer preferred something more unique then they could opt for the Zegna Edition. The famous Italian fashion house would offer a bespoke leather color scheme as well as silk linings for the seats and side panels.
The 2018 Maserati Ghibli also offered a Driver Assistance Package that would include everything that many had been clamoring for: adaptive cruise control with a Stop/Go feature; forward collision alert; automatic emergency braking; lane departure warning and a 360-degree surround view camera.
The intuitive cruise control could be engaged to stay within a certain distance of any other vehicles and to make changes to the car’s speed and braking, if the vehicle in front slows down, then move off two seconds after the car in front has moved on.
The Forward Collision Warning and Advanced and Automated Braking would ensure that, if an impact was impending, then, once the brake pedal was pressed, it would apply the most suitable braking to avoid collision. While the automated would independently begin braking if the driver has not responded in time.
The ‘Maestro’s of Modena’ had now created the perfect executive midsize luxury sedan that was head and shoulders ahead of the pack.