The Maserati Ghibli 350 is your entry level into the luxury Italian brand but is it worthy of wearing the infamous tridente?
A few weeks ago we drove the Maserati Ghibli 350 MY2019. It’s your entry-level ticket into a soulful brand. Maseratis always have had this special feeling to them, they give you a certain emotion that competitor’s cars fail to deliver.
The Maserati Ghibli is instantly recognizable as a Maserati. It bears resemblance to its bigger brother, the Quattroporte in some ways. But unlike the confusement you get with German competitor cars, here the styling is noticeably unique. The Ghibli looks more aggressive thanks to sharper drawn lines and is also significantly shorter. Almost 300 mm actually. More on that later on.
An Opera Voice
In true Italian style, the Ghibli houses a fine singing V6 engine. The 3.0L V6 is the entry-level petrol engine. It produces 350 hp and 500 Nm’s of torque. Sprinting from 0-100 in 5,5 seconds is more than enough for day to day driving. So performance is good but that doesn’t really matter. What really matters is the sound coming out of the 6 combustion chambers. I’ve rarely seen (or heard) engines with this much variety in sound across the rev range. This means that you’ll find so many different sounds at certain rpm’s and it becomes a game of finding new ones. I
Okay so when I said performance doesn’t really matter, I should explain what I meant with that. The base petrol V6 provides a healthy dose of acceleration and top speed. You could also get the 430 hp version of the V6 which has its benefits for sure. But this version shows that the horsepower wars are more or less overrated providing you build a masterpiece of an engine with useable power. Power delivery to the street is without struggles for traction and a quick acceleration doesn’t mean you’re instantly breaking the law but you can enjoy that Godly sound coming from the 4 exhaust pipes.
“So you’ve got the looks but have you got the touch?” That’s the question a famous song asks. And it’s what we’re asking too. Because Maserati’s are aimed at delivering dynamic performance as well as long-distance comfort. And that’s particularly hard to balance in a car.
To succeed, Maserati designed the Ghibli with a perfect 50:50 weight distribution and an optional extra called Skyhook. It is able to monitor all four dampers individually and adjust them at all times when needed. This results in less “diving” under braking, less “squatting” during acceleration and less body roll whilst cornering. All this while retaining the comfort you’d want in a daily driver. Brembo brakes are dual-cast to reduce unsprung weight even further.
But how does that translate into the real world? As you’d expect the Ghibli rides very smooth over these harder Belgian roads. But put in on a backroad and it feels like you’ve stepped into a different car. Where it was very forgiving in soaking up bumps, it’s now also ready to eat every corner on its path. The meaty 285 Pirellis at the back got the job to keep you from losing traction. And they do so quite well. Even stepping on the gas midway a corner and it doesn’t flinch in the slightest way.
A perfect balance between comfort and sports heritage. It’s looking good so far for the baby ‘rati.
Another thing which I love about Maseratis is the public perception of them. Whilst Ferraris are sometimes looked at with envy. And Maserati’s have this flair which is appreciated by a broader public. The number of smiles or thumbs up you
The car we drove was a Ghibli Gransport in Blu Nobile, a new tri-coat color introduced for 2019. In the shade, you’d almost say it’s just another black car. But when it comes out in the sun, that’s when it really shines.
The matrix headlights are also new and complement the aggressive Gran Sport’s lower fascia with bigger air intakes and a bigger lower splitter.
Along the side, you’ll see the roof elegantly sloping down like a coupé. And this is one of the biggest visual differences between the Ghibli and Quattroporte.
The back bumper features wider side intakes along the exhaust tips to give it a more prominent stance.
To finish it off. (The Italians really know how to spec a car) The Ghibli was fitted with the exterior carbon fiber package which consists of a carbon splitter, spoiler, mirrors, window- and door trim.
If you want your Ghibli to stand out. The Gransport trim is definitely the way to go. It really becomes a showstopper as most people will break their neck when you’re passing by.
The interior has received a subtle but impressive upgrade. The Levante we drove last year was very nice to sit in but some ways the finishing wasn’t up completely up to that of its rivals. It’s not bad, far from it. But it was a little behind on competition.
I am however glad to say that this took a major leap. Part of that is thanks to the newly introduced Pieno Fiori Premium leather. It’s silky smooth and is well worth the upgrade if you’re planning on spending quite some time inside the cabin.
The Gransport package also includes comfy yet rugged sports seats that hold you in place. It’s not a full out race seat but then again, that’s not really necessary in a sedan. One very cool feature is the adjustable pedals which are controlled by a switch under the seat. You rarely see such a customizable seating position in this segment but it makes a big difference in the total experience.
The full carbon fiber trim package accentuates its sports heritage. Just like the machined valve covers. A rare beauty in a world where engine parts are hidden under tons of plastic.
The infotainment system mostly stayed the same touch-based interface as over the last few years but that’s definitely not a bad thing. It’s very responsive and doesn’t demand your attention that much. Everything works beautifully and is well thought out. (Who would’ve thought the Italians could ever beat the Germans on logic and ergonomics). There’s still a circular joystick available if you’d prefer that instead of a touch screen.
I’m thoroughly impressed with the Ghibli interior. They focused to get the small things right and made the overall experience significantly better. The new gearshift lever works a lot better than the one from last year. Only here was it that the leather didn’t look to be on par with the rest of the interior.
So Is It Worthy Of The Maserati Badge?
With the Ghibli, Maserati shows that they mean business for the ones who just like that little extra in life. Okay so objectively speaking you might be able to get more or less the same features in a German for less money. But this is not something you’ll buy with your brains but with your heart. The Ghibli really speaks to your emotions. It also trumps the looks of any similar German, has some gimmicks that you’ll never find there and with a 350 hp singing heart, you don’t really need much more power anyway. The Ghibli captured a spot in our heart and with that, it really deserves to wear the Tridente.
Gear used in this review:
Sony A7iii, Sony A7ii, Sony 55mm f1.8 and Sony 35mm f1.4