2013 Maserati Ghibli review
It is Maserati's bid to elbow aside the usual top-end executive suspects, and so offers the Italian company's first diesel engine, a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 that generates 271bhp and 443lb ft of torque.
The Ghibli will also be offered with a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine that comes in two states of tune – with either 325bhp or 404bhp.
The two petrol engines might be more in keeping with the traditional idea of what to expect from a Maserati, but it's the diesel that the company really needs to sell if a foothold is to be gained in the higher end of the executive car class.
What's the 2013 Maserati Ghibli like to drive?
Cars such as the BMW 5 Series and Jaguar XF may not have quite the cachet of the name Maserati, but they certainly can get you from point to point quickly, comfortably and with the feeling that you're in something that's a cut above. The Ghibli has to drive well if it's to appeal to these discerning user-choosers.
The diesel engine fires to a quiet but distinctly diesel rumble. Put the eight-speed automatic gearbox in D, release the brake and as you accelerate the soundtrack becomes slightly uncouth and grumbly. The engine pulls strongly once the single turbo has woken up, but the problem is that it doesn't generate decent boost until around 2000rpm, and the car can feel a bit languid if you get caught below that.
Still, performance is pretty strong once everything is up and running, and shifts up through the eight-speed gearbox are smooth, though it suffers the occasional lumpy downshift when in Sport mode. The most annoying aspect of the drivetrain is the fact that there's a noticeable 'clunk' from the rear of the car almost every time you ease off then reapply the accelerator.
The Ghibli is reasonably quiet on the motorway, when the engine fades into the distance, while wind- and road noise are kept to acceptable levels. However, if it's all a bit too quiet and civilised for you, a press of the Sport button by the gearlever sharpens the accelerator responses and activates two sound actuators by the exhausts which give the car a deep-chested if not especially evocative rumble.
However, one area in which the Ghibli falls well short of its adversaries is in ride and handling. In Normal mode the ride has a shuddery quality as the suspension patters over imperfections. At the same time the body is allowed to shimmy and pitch too much, jostling those inside.
There is a button to firm up the suspension, and certainly when this is pressed the Ghibli becomes a properly sporting executive car, changing direction quickly and keeping its body well under control. The ride is also firmed up accordingly, which means you'll only ever use this setting when the sun's out, the road is twisty and there's no one in front.
The steering is light and accurate, but feedback about the road surface is not high on the agenda.
What's the 2013 Maserati Ghibli like inside?
As far as the driver's concerned, the Ghibli's interior is a perfectly acceptable place. It looks pretty stylish, there's stitched leather all around, and the dials and instruments are clear.
If there are downsides, the indicator stalk is too much of a stretch and the buttons down by the gearlever are tricky to discern at a glance.
It all feels well put together, if not quite up to the standard set by Audi and BMW. There's decent head- and legroom up front, too, so even a tall driver and front-seat passenger can get comfortable.
However, things aren't so good in the rear, where legroom and foot space feel in much shorter supply; quite a failing in a car that will be required to carry adults in the rear seats every so often.
The boot is big enough to hold a decent amount of luggage (albeit not as much as a BMW 5 Series or a Mercedes-Benz CLS), but the opening is quite shallow.
Should I buy one?
The executive car world is populated by the Germans and Jaguar because they're great to live with and they add up as company cars.
This is where the 2013 Maserati Ghibli faces its toughest battle, but it puts up a decent fight with carbon dioxide emissions of 158g/km and a 26% company car tax banding. Add in average economy of 47.9mpg and things look pretty good.
It's certainly better than the 160g/km/27% Mercedes CLS350 CDI (which is also more expensive), but the BMW 535d M Sport has it beaten with CO2 of 148g/km, a 24% tax banding, and a lower list price. It's close to the Jaguar XF 3.0D V6 S Portfolio, which emits 159g/km, has an identical banding and does 47.0mpg – but then the Jag is much better to drive.
Leasing costs will be crucial. Audis, BMWs and Mercs all have strong resale values, which help to keep down contract hire costs. If the Maserati is predicted to shed its value more quickly than these, it could prove expensive on a monthly lease.
However, the lure of saying 'I drive a Maserati' is undeniably a strong one.
What Car? says...
BMW 5 Series
Engine size 3.0 V6 diesel
Price from £48,830
Torque 443lb ft
0-62mph 6.3 seconds
Top speed 156mph
Fuel economy 47.9mpg
By Euan Doig
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