Maserati Ghibli Diesel – Review
By Liam Bird
‘Take your time,’ say Maserati, slowly. What images fill your mind? Fangio and Moss maybe in 250Fs around Monaco, or are they wheel-to-wheel on the Monza banking? Perhaps it’s the Italian manufacturer’s road cars instead that you envisage; the grand-tourers like the Quattroporte, or the sportier, sleeker ones such as the GrandTurismo, the Merak and the Mistral? Or is it Maserati’s latest creation, the gorgeous Alfieri, named after their founder and unveiled this year to commemorate this most evocative of motor-maker’s centenary?
Whatever it is that’s occupying your thoughts it’s unlikely that’s it’s either four-doored or diesel-powered. And anyway, aren’t diesel saloons altogether more Alan from accounts than they are Alfieri Maserati? Probably, yes. Nevertheless things have changed.
Maserati’s Ghibli is now available as a diesel – it’s their first in fact. Maserati know their chances of turning 200 are slim if they continue solely as a small volume manufacturer of exotics. That’s why their Ghibli diesel is aimed directly at the office car park stalwarts from Mercedes, Audi and BMW.
Being Italian of course, the Ghibli wears an altogether sharper-styled, if ultimately perhaps not quite as well sewn together, suit than its Bavarian contemporaries. Those delicate triple vents in the front wings, the oval grille complete with its centrally mounted trident badge, and those quad tailpipes all hint towards Maseratis of old. But, somehow the clunk when you shut the door doesn’t feel quite as solid as it should.
Once aboard you’re in no doubt the Ghibli is a sports saloon. Trademark deep-set dials share space with fine leather trim, (optional) carbon inserts and a touchscreen that sits centre stage and takes care of everything from the heated seats and the entertainment, to the sat-nav, the trip-computer and the Bluetooth. Four will find comfort easily, maybe five at a push – the transmission tunnel hinders the centre rear seat’s leg room – and the boot will happily swallow everyone’s luggage. Practical, yes; but ergonomically this interior would probably give an Ingolstadt engineer nightmares. And yet there is a certain something about it. It feels flamboyant, and it’s all the better for it.
What isn’t quite so racy is the engine note. Thumb the starter and the 3-litre turbodiesel settles into a subdued, slightly industrial sounding idle. If you were expecting a high revving, shrieking power-plant, think again. You do get 271bhp and a very generous 442lbft of torque, but the redline starts at a conservative, even for a diesel, 4500rpm. Compensation is the promise of 47.9mpg.
Things get better once on the move. Use the paddles to select your own gears rather than just letting the auto-box do its own thing, and not only can you avoid the 8-speeder’s somewhat dim-witted nature, but you can also make the Ghibli sound its (albeit diesely) growl. The steering feels beautifully direct, and mid-range acceleration is, shall we say, more than adequate. And, if you’re brave enough to dismiss the traction control there’s all kinds of fun to have. The ride is a little fidgety though; an indication that ultimately perhaps the Ghibli is better suited to the auto-strada than it is to a British b-road.
So, flawed it may be, but the Ghibli offers a rather handsome, and dare I say welcome, deviation from the somewhat sober Bavarian sports saloon norm. What other sub-fifty grand rear wheel-drive V6 powered saloons can you think of that wear such legendary badges?
Whether the Ghibli Diesel a left-field choice or a discerning one, I’ll let you decide. But, trust me. Alan from accounts has never had it so good.
Maserati Ghibli Diesel
Engine: 2987cc. V6 turbodiesel
Transmission: 8 speed Automatic rear-wheel drive
Power: 271 bhp @ 4000rpm
Torque: 442 lbft @ 2000 – 2600 rpm
0-62mph: 6.3 sec
Max Speed: 155 mph
Mpg: 47.9 (combined)
CO2: 158 g/km
Price: £48,835 (car driven £62,593)