Quickies: Ghibli

2014 Maserati Ghibli Q4
2014 Maserati Ghibli Q4. All Photos by Randy Stern

The name still stirs the soul.

It is not just any name. It is one that evokes greatness at a time when car design was in a revolutionary phase. Curves were being shifted onto elegant lines. The call of the modern car was powerful, as were the mechanics underneath.

Behind the name is a story. In the late 1960s, the pen of Giorgetto Giugiaro framed a modern sports car. Inside the carrozzeria of Ghia, Giugiaro shaped a two-plus-two grand touring coupe with 4.7liter V8 underneath its long hood. It would be a masterpiece.

The original Ghibli trumpeted a new era for the grand tourer. The hood alone gave it presence, while its delicate mechanicals were unleashed with an astounding 0-60 time of 6.8 seconds – quick for 1967. Velocity topped out at 154MPH, again a feat of glory outside of North America.

If you remember the original Ghibli, then you are probably questioning the name’s presence on Maserati’s new executive sedan. Question no more. The name evokes power, performance and stunning looks. Sounds familiar, if you already know your Maseratis.

Today's Ghibli has a different mission in mind. It is the starting point of a growing lineup – a sedan matched right in a highly competitive segment of mid-sized luxury sedans. How does the famed nomenclature translate today in the guide of a mid-sized luxury sedan?

It does, and well. The Ghibli speaks "modern Italian luxury." To look at the Ghibli is to look at a sculpture with undeniable curves and shapes. Yet, it is a modern sedan with traditional Maserati design elements. The Trident dominates the front end with an appropriately designed grille. Two scowling headlamp units frame this front end as an invitation to see the rest of the Ghibli.

On the fender are three port holes – a reminder of Maserati's racing heritage. The roofline is a pure notchback with a distinctive glasshouse and a solid rear quarter pillar. It is modern-looking at the rear, but with distinctive Maserati touches to distinguish this from its competition.

Stepping into the Ghibli, there are a few things to consider. You have rich Italian leather to sit in. The seats are bolstered well, very comfortable and soft. The frontal area is huge, if not perfectly sized. A position, that includes working the gear lever and the paddle shifters, is one where the driver works while relaxed. Maserati nailed the driver's part of this new sedan.

Rear seat occupants may find things a bit tight. Averaged sized parents with small children will find a home inside the Ghibli's cabin. Also, if you are looking for a quiet experience inside, then you may want to adjust your ears for the finest soundtrack in its class – the exhaust. To buy an Italian car is to add the staccato tones coming from underneath and rearward through four exhaust ports.

2014 Maserati Ghibli Q4

Yet, the interior design is truly Maserati. It is bespoke for the price point – that speaks volumes. The dials are truly Maserati in look, as is the feel of materials from the steering wheel to the paddle shifters and key switches. Ergonomically, everything is laid out just right for the driver. One thing you may have to remember when driving the Ghibli: The ignition button is on the left side of the instrument panel.

However, there are many touches that point to its leveraged partnership under the Fiat Chrysler family. Some might say that the presence of switches, stalks and screens may appear to be cheapened by Chrysler components. However they truly fit and work well inside the Ghibli. For example, the Maserati Touch System may seem like your average UConnect touch screen, but it is truly focused on giving the Ghibli owner reliable and business-like functionality.

The best part of the Ghibli is its huge trunk – 18 cubic feet of everything. The trunk might be a small, but you can pack deep inside of the space for a long vacation for two or more.

The Ghibli Q4 offers 404 horsepower of Ferrari-developed twin turbocharged V6 brio. Though you hear it through the exhaust, it is extremely poised and devoid of turbo lag. If it is not to simply hear it, you have to look at it. At least look at the sculpturing of the cylinder heads.

A ZF 8-speed automatic funnels that twin turbocharged power to all four wheels for unobtrusive action towards maximum traction. This driveline is happiest when you put it into Manual mode. You have the freedom of gear manipulation for any situation it requires. It also teaches you how to drive like a true enthusiast to understand at which speed you need to shift where at which situation.

The Ghibli is also poised and balanced through the curves. There is no evidence of roll or lean when you attack them. The ride is on the firm side, but there is more than enough dampening to not send the worst spots of the road through the cabin. You will find the steering is well weighted with solid action at the wheel. Turning may be a bit heavy, but you could accomplish some maneuvers just fine. Stopping power is very good. Expect strong braking through normal and panic stops.

According to the EPA, the Ghibli Q4 will average 18MPG.

2014 Maserati Ghibli Q4

The Ghibli starts off at $66,900 before destination charges. This Q4 tester starts at $76,900. In comparison to its direct competitors, the Maserati is priced on the high side, but not by much.

Then again, you would expect to pay top dollar for fine Italian goods. The Maserati Ghibli is exactly that – a fine Italian sedan. There may be things that will put off the most discriminating aficionado of all things Maserati, but consider the fact that you get reliable components that will keep your Ghibli going longer than any Maserati before. Consider that the Ghibli is here for the long run and not at the whim of unstable management, as in the past.

This Ghibli is a great mid-sized sports sedan that stands out above the competition. Not solely because it is the only Italian offering amongst a mostly German crowd. Because its heritage, its level of luxury and its alluring styling guarantees years of entertaining drives in one.

DISCLAIMER: Vehicle Provided by Morrie's Luxury Autos, Minnetonka, MN

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