Friday, March 17, 2017

Bucket Seat: Maserati Ghibli

Last week I found myself in a very fortunate position, while seated in one of the most beautiful cars I have ever driven, the Maserati Ghibli. There's just so much history in that name, from their establishment in 1914 in the Italian town of Bologna, there was one key mission for them and it transpired into their tag line, "Luxury, sports and style cast in exclusive cars". And that's exactly what they've been doing for over the past 100 years, and doing it well. Whilst car enthusiast cast their eyes to the two giants of Italian motorcars in Maranello and Sant'Agata Bolognese, very rarely would they take note at what is coming out of the stable in Bologna. While Maserati now forms a sister company with Ferrari, the partnership has proved for the better, with shared technology in engines and engineering as well with the added bonus of Ferrari's F1 knowledge which has helped later generations of Maserati's compete with the other big boys on the market.

Maserati were synonymous in crafting sports, luxury vehicles and that trend has continued today with their fleet extending from Coupes, Convertibles to large and medium size luxury sedans, and not too long ago they launched their all new SUV, the Levante. Being a fan of large sedans, the Quattroporte was a firm favourite of mine for a while now, it's big, loud and fast but at the same time luxurious. So when Maserati re-launched the Ghibli a few years back, I was quite excited to see a somewhat smaller brother to the Quattroporte. It was very similar in looks but in a smaller frame but encapsulated everything about the brand and the heritage. I got to spend a few days with it during my stay in Cape Town this past week and to say I became infatuated with the car is an understatement.


Where do I begin? This car just oozed style and everywhere I went it got the attention of many. The lines are clean and sophisticated with the right amount of elegance that just captures the eye in such a pleasant way. It's low stance gives it that sports car feel but the four doors make it known that is also for business and not for just for pleasure. Subtle details on the car just gives you an indication of the craftsmanship that go into the design of the Ghibli, from the sculpted rear end to the trident badge which adorns the rear pillar of the back door. The three side vents that are place on either side of the car to allow for excess hot air to escape from the engine bay look rather like an accessory than it serving a functional purpose. Everything about the design just flows and works, it really is something special to look at and I caught myself many a time just stopping to admire it. There's various customisations for every Ghibli, from the outside to the interior, ensuring your one is unique to your taste and style.


Italians are known for their quality and this transpires into the cabin of the Ghibli, its a lap of luxury couple with style that only the Italians could get right. Exotic materials and leather make up most of the cabin with the embossed trident proudly on each of the front head rests. The interior plays a major role in setting the Ghibli apart from much of its competitors. The high quality finishes are everywhere to be seen, with perfect stitching throughout the cabin. The large infotainment screen is simple and easy to use. There were some features that I felt the car lacked, for example, heating and cooling seats but it really wasn't a major train smash that the car didn't have them as it had many other bells and whistles. Electronic adjustable memory seats, active cruise control were just some of them. Even with the low ride height and sports suspension, there was no compromise on the quality of the ride comfort and it was something that just astounded me through out my time with the car.


The main talking point, the engine! The Ghibli is powered by a 3 liter twin turbo V6 engine which in fact is made by Ferrari. Although it is a quite powerful unit, the Ghibli isn't as fast as one would expect it to be, the power output derived from the engine is 330bhp, with 243kW and 450Nm of torque. There are other cars in a similar segment that are faster but with the Ghibli, the responsiveness of the engine coupled with the fine tuned exhaust make for a symphony of sound to your eyes, which is elevated when switched over to Sport mode. It is probably one of the best sounding cars around, the noise that come out of those pipes are music to any car enthusiasts ears. But that's not to say the Ghibli is a slouch, it does hunt down the tarmac quite fast and while there is a slight lag in the turbo on normal mode, this dissipates quite quickly when sport mode is engaged. The handling is superb and can be done with one hand but it is not advised. The large aluminium paddles behind the steering wheel give you this race car feel as you flick through the 8 speed gear box while the car devours the road in front of it.


Now being a sports car, you won't expect much but the Ghibli has a rather large loading capacity, the boot is huge! You can easily fit more than one golf bag in there and on the inside you will find various storage compartments for different things. The glove box even has a switch for it to be cooled should you want to store any items that need to be kept cool. With this, the car did display more and more reason as to why it could be an every day car to use. 


As mentioned the Ghibli is packed with features, they could have done slightly better with the infotainment screen, not that it doesn't work well but it just feels a bit generic. The reverse camera quality is also one that needs a mention, while you can see where you are going it could be of better resolution. The cars instrument panel is simple yet striking and bares a resemblance to the one in the Quattroporte, the information screen in the middle can give the driver various information about the car with the flick of a button on his steering wheel. Dual Climate control for the front passengers as well as vents at the back for its occupants, of which I tested quite a lot with the ongoing heatwave in the Western Cape. The car has various ports and blue-tooth connectivity and a banging standard sound system, should you wish to upgrade to something louder, there are options with Bowers and Wilkins as well as Harman Kardon on the list. Glass sunroof with easy to use switches for me are a must and it's great that the test car I had, came with it. 


The brands mission statement is "Build ultra-luxury performance automobiles with timeless Italian style, accommodating bespoke interiors, and effortless, signature sound power." and Maserati have not only done this but it's done brilliantly. While many out there may look at the price and be put off but one has to understand the league in which such a vehicle sits in. Whilst there might be cheaper alternatives, the character that the Ghibli has, is severely lacking in many of the others. Also the owner will have a greater sense of appreciation in the product he's paying for. What Maserati have done with the Ghibli is so much more than just make another car, they've made a masterpiece for it's owner to enjoy and boast about.


 3.0 litre, Twin Turbo V6
 Gear Box
 8 speed automatic with paddle shift
 Top Speed
 5.5  seconds
 R 1,470,840

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