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First drive: Maserati Ghibli S. Image by Maserati.

First drive: Maserati Ghibli S
More power, more technology and subtle design tweaks for the 2018 Ghibli.

 



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Maserati Ghibli S

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Maserati has updated its Ghibli sports saloon for the 2018 model year, subtly restyling the four-door shape, offering two distinct new trim levels and upgrading the technology on offer. Topping the line-up is the more powerful Ghibli S variant tested here.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: 2018MY Maserati Ghibli S GranSport
Price: 73,840 on-the-road as tested; Ghibli starts at 51,165
Engine: biturbo 3.0-litre V6 petrol
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive, limited slip differential
Body style: four-door saloon
CO2 emissions: 223g/km (VED 1,200 first 12 months, then 450 per annum next five years, then 140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 29.4mpg
Top speed: 178mph
0-62mph: 4.9 seconds
Power: 430hp at 5,750rpm
Torque: 580Nm at 2,250-4,000rpm
Kerb weight: 1,810kg
Power-to-weight ratio: 237hp/tonne

What's this?

The Maserati Ghibli sports saloon, which has been updated for the 2018 model year with a raft of worthwhile changes, although there's nothing so drastic as to alter the rear-drive four-door saloon's pretty lines. As before, the entry-level version is the Ghibli Diesel, powered by a 3.0-litre V6 which produces 275hp and 600Nm of torque and starts at 51,165 on-the-road. A biturbo 3.0-litre V6 powers the two petrol variants (manufactured by Ferrari in Maranello, apparently), the 350hp/500Nm Ghibli and the range-topping Ghibli S, which now has 430hp and 580Nm at its disposal (up from 20hp and 30Nm in the old car). Power is distributed to the rear wheels via a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission and a mechanical limited-slip differential as standard.

New for 2018 is electric power assisted steering (EPAS) and the Integrated Vehicle Control (IVC) system by Bosch, first seen on the Maserati Quattroporte. These make it possible to introduce a new Advanced Driving Assistance System, featuring Highway Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist and Traffic Sign Recognition. The exterior features adaptive full LED headlights and quad exhaust outlets and subtle restyling has resulted in a lower drag coefficient, down from 0.31 to 0.29 - to the benefit of speed, refinement and efficiency.

Maserati has also taken the 2018MY update as an opportunity to introduce two new specification grades, called GranSport and GranLusso. They are priced the same, but sit above the standard trim level and each have their own interior and exterior equipment. As you'd expect, the GranSport enhances the sportier side of the Ghibli, including 20-inch alloy wheels, red brake calipers and more aggressive bumper designs, while the GranLusso is more elegant and traditional in its approach.

How does it drive?

Although the GranSport looks promise sporting prowess from the Maserati Ghibli, it's a better car on a cruise or at seven tenths than it is being pushed to the limits of adhesion. Ambling around, the biturbo V6 makes a pleasing rumble in the distance, yet it settles down to silence on the motorway. If anything, it's too quiet, even in Sport mode, where those outside the car are treated to a more stirring soundtrack than those within. There's no disputing the V6's considerable shove, though, and the eight-speed automatic works well with it. Rarely will you need to override the default calibration, though you might want to just to use the gorgeous oversized metal gearchange paddles. They're mounted behind a tactile leather steering wheel.

And that controls the new EPAS, which is one of the best we've tried, with resistance build-up in line with cornering forces, good weighting and no kickback over bumps. Indeed, in the warm and dry conditions of our test drive, the front axle felt thoroughly keyed into the road, even if you do lean on it. That helps give the Ghibli a distinctly rear-drive feel on the exit of corners, something that is enhanced by the limited slip differential as you speed up. We found this worked well with the new IVC system too, which unobtrusively intervened only occasionally.

Less impressive is the Ghibli's damping. The GranSport car comes with Skyhook adaptive damping as standard and it struggled to adequately control body movements at times when the surface was anything less than smooth and flat. Nonetheless, when the conditions are right, the Ghibli S can cover ground quickly and in an entertaining fashion.

Verdict

While the Maserati Ghibli Diesel must stand up to critical appraise of its running costs against established 'sensible' cars such as the faster diesel versions of the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class, the Ghibli S is pitched at a very different sphere. That's certainly true in the UK, where the market for powerful sports saloons with petrol engines is modest to say the least and completely dominated by enthusiasts.

They don't often choose logically, and the Maserati Ghibli S is definitely a heart-before-head kind of car. It looks gorgeous inside and out and it's fast by any measure. It doesn't really matter that it's objectively bettered in some respects by alternatives on the market as it'll be bought for its uniqueness as much as anything else. The 2018MY updates don't detract from that, while making the Ghibli a better-rounded proposition than ever.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Passenger Space

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Powertrain


Shane O' Donoghue - 8 Dec 2017









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2018 Maserati Ghibli GranSport drive. Image by Maserati.2018 Maserati Ghibli GranSport drive. Image by Maserati.2018 Maserati Ghibli GranSport drive. Image by Maserati.2018 Maserati Ghibli GranSport drive. Image by Maserati.2018 Maserati Ghibli GranSport drive. Image by Maserati.

2018 Maserati Ghibli GranSport drive. Image by Maserati.2018 Maserati Ghibli GranSport drive. Image by Maserati.2018 Maserati Ghibli GranSport drive. Image by Maserati.2018 Maserati Ghibli GranSport drive. Image by Maserati.2018 Maserati Ghibli GranSport drive. Image by Maserati.








 

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