I drove two Twin Turbo V6’s in December and I’ve got to say I was outrageously impressed with both. One was the new BMW M4 which was simply sensational (more on that next week), and the other was the new Maserati Ghibli S, a car I was intrigued to experience following my time driving the new Quattroporte earlier in 2014.
Maserati stepped up their game ten fold last year. No doubt it was a culmination of years of hard work and significant investment but I think 2014 was the year the consumer really noticed. Along with launching the all new Quattroporte and a new dealership on Sydney’s lower north shore (with more to come), the brand also launched the Ghibli, a car set to compete with its European adversaries in one of the car market’s most competitive sectors, that of the mid size luxury sedan.
Right from the get go I was impressed with the Ghibli and that was months before I even drove it. To kick things off I was picked up for the launch event in a Maserati Gran Turismo convertible and whisked away to Otto for a phenomenal lunch and preview of the car. Once there I began searching for some familiar car journos from other launches I’d been too but strangely couldn’t see anyone I knew. Shortly after I was told that Maserati have decided to treat the ‘Lifestyle’ industry as its own important beast, recognising that their products are exactly that – an aspirational lifestyle.
I enjoyed hearing that our industry is recognised in its own right against the core car publications. I was just as impressed to see a menu with some writing down the bottom that said Maserati were going to put me up in a hotel of my choice (from a list of three quality ones) and give me a Ghibli for the journey on a night of my choosing. That’s how I found myself in a Ghibli S, caressing two lovely aluminium paddles, listening to the exhaust crackle as I weaved through the National Park en route to Milton Park Hotel at Bowral.
Whilst the Quattroporte and Ghibli have many similarities in design, interior, engine (the Quattroporte also offers the same V6 Twin Turbo) and features I thought the two cars were vastly different to drive. I’ll be honest I didn’t love the Quattroporte GTS, Iit was good but I just couldn’t get past the price tag. It lacked the tech and interior of a $320k car and the drive just didn’t engage me enough.
I thought the Ghibli S provided everything the Quattroporte GTS didn’t. The front end of the car is more attractive, as is the rear and the styling throughout is more refined, more proportioned. The interior is noticeably smaller but its more thoughtful (the air-conditioning vents are smooth and feel quality) and the engine suits the size of the car perfectly – it also sounds brilliant.
Snaking through the National Park I was smiling from ear to ear, I felt more relaxed with the Ghibli, more confident to push it. The car is beautifully balanced and the steering far more precise up front than I recalled the Quattroporte to be. The power delivery from the 410hp engine is seamless and turbo lag is almost completely absent while the active exhaust provides a soundtrack worth keeping the windows down for.
Of course the cars performance is attractive but it’s the fact that you’re in a Maserati that really gets you excited. Starting at $138k and finishing at $169k for the S, it’s more expensive than BMW’s range topping 550i ($159k) but you get the Trident badge and an engine built by Ferrari. At the end of the day it’s not just another BMW, Audi or Merc on our roads and that’s going to be very attractive to consumers in that market. It might cost you a little more but it’s everything a sports sedan should be and delivers the panache and performance expected of the iconic Italian sports car manufacturers.