2015 Maserati Ghibli

By December 16, 2014

Smaller and less expensive than the larger Quattroporte four-door sedan, more practical and much less expensive than the GranTourismo coupe and convertible, the Maserati Ghibli is the storied Italian automaker’s most important new model in many years. Ghibli was launched as a 2014 model and carries over to 2015 unchanged.

Maseratis are so rare in North America that you’ll rarely see one in most parts of the country. But now that parent company Fiat owns American automaker Chrysler, and some Fiat dealers have begun selling them, increasing numbers are out there. And because it is one of the world’s most beautiful and exciting sedans, yet relatively attainable with retail prices starting well below $70,000, Ghibli has rocketed to the top of the charts for Maserati, accounting for nearly two-thirds of its U.S. sales in 2014.

Most will agree that precious few four-doors come close to the visual appeal of the Maserati Ghibli. The iconic Maserati grille, the triple front-fender vents, the sculpted creases and curves, the fluid coupe-like roofline, the classic trident logos, the muscular rear-drive proportions and sinewy athletic stance, all add up to a unique blend of Italian sportiness and elegance.

Inside the cabin is an equally happy marriage of premium Italian craftsmanship and modern amenities, the latter partly thanks to Chrysler-based electronics. The soft leather-covered seats look as good as they feel, and you can customize it with two-tone leather and wood or carbon fiber trim combinations and upgrade it with even finer Italian leather.

Above the central 8.4-inch Maserati Touch Control display (a version of Chrysler’s excellent infotainment touch-screen interface) is a traditional Maserati blue-face oval clock. On the tunnel left of the gear lever is an array of buttons offering a choice of Manual, Sport or I.C.E. (Increased Control Efficiency) management of the transmission and other dynamic systems. The leather-covered steering wheel has audio and cruise controls on its horizontal spokes and (available) large manual-shift paddles behind them. Between the big, round speedometer and tachometer is a seven-inch TFT screen that displays your selection of driver information and data.

Nestled under that lovely sculpted hood is a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 good for 345 horsepower in the standard Ghibli or 404 hp in the higher-performance Ghibli S Q4. It drives both models’ rear wheels through a ZF 8-speed automatic transmission in normal conditions, or all four of the Ghibli S Q4’s when its all-wheel drive senses a loss of rear grip. The front suspension is double wishbone, the rear a five-arm multilink design. Ghibli S Q4’s powerful Brembo brakes have six-piston monobloc calipers front, four-piston grippers rear.

Stand on the gas from rest, and there’s momentary turbo lag, but after that comes relentless, grin-inducing propulsion accompanied by a muffled animal shriek exhaust note punctuated by distinct turbo huffs with each transmission upshift. And those shifts come quickly and crisply whether automatically or manually with the paddles. The steering is equally quick and crisp, the cornering athletically agile, the ride pleasingly damped and the brakes appropriately powerful. Our average fuel economy was a respectable 21.0 mpg after a freeway trip and 19.8 mpg following a fairly aggressive two-lane test.

Model Lineup

The 2015 Maserati Ghibli comes in two basic models, Ghibli ($66,900) and Ghibli S Q4 ($77,900).

Standard features include dual-zone automatic climate control, six-way power front seats, keyless entry with pushbutton start, power tilt/telescoping steering column, eight-speaker audio with Sirius/XM Satellite radio, Travel Link and Traffic, a rearview camera, 60/40 split folding rear seats, 19-inch polished alloy wheels, bi-xenon automatic headlights with integrated LED DRLs, full LED taillamps.

Ghibli comes with a 345-horsepower 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6. Ghibli S Q4 features a 404-horsepower version of the same engine and all-wheel drive, plus adaptive automatic headlamps with height control, Radica open pore wood interior trim, eight-way power heated front seats and a power sunroof.

Options include Skyhook electronic damping ($2,900); special wheels; custom paint; custom leather, wood and carbon fiber trims; heated leather or carbon/leather steering wheels; a heated rear seat ($625); a power rear sunblind ($700); 10-speaker ($1,500) or Bowers & Wilkins 15-speaker premium sound systems; WI-FI vehicle hot-spot capability ($750). Luxury Package ($3,400) upgrades with extended premium leather with contrast stitching. Premium Package ($2,750) includes remote start, front and rear parking sensors, a power rear sunblind, power foot pedals, Easy Entry and Rain Sensor features and a premium sound system. Sport Package 20 ($4,750) includes sports suspension, red-painted brake calipers, machine-polished 20-inch alloy wheels, steering wheel shift paddles and Inox sport pedals.

Safety features include seven airbags, ABS, Maserati Stability Program (MSP), Brake Assist, automatic hill holder. Optional all-wheel drive can enhance handling stability in slippery conditions.

Walkaround

15-ghibli-walkThe Maserati Ghibli is a unique, eye-pleasing blend of Italian sportiness and elegance. Just look at it: iconic Maserati grille, triple front-fender vents, sculpted creases and curves, fluid coupe-like roofline, classic trident logos, muscular rear-drive proportions, sinewy athletic stance. While there are plenty of fine-looking four-doors on the road today, few if any quite matches the sensual visual appeal of this rare Italian stallion.

The nose is long and low and the wrap-around headlamps, incorporating projector lenses and a row of LED running lamps, are works of art under glass. The fender vents (once oft-mocked cliches on Buicks) are artfully rendered icons by Maserati. A fine line runs above them through the front door, then dips and disappears under the bolder crease that begins in the rear door and sweeps up to define the muscular rear haunch. A deeply sculpted lower crease leads the eye upward ahead of the rear wheel to meet the flowing roofline.

Looking like a more lithe and sexy, slightly shrunken Quattroporte, the Ghibli stands nearly a foot shorter and 110 pounds lighter on a 6.8-inch-shorter wheelbase. Approach it with the big aluminum (keyless) fob, and it greets you with subtle lighting and unlocked doors.

Interior Features

15-ghibli-interiorInside the Maserati Ghibli is a beautiful blend of premium materials, Italian craftsmanship and modern amenities, the latter partly thanks to Chrysler electronics. The soft leather-covered seats feel as good as they look, even for extended drives, and you can customize the cabin with two-tone leather and wood or carbon fiber trim and upgrade it with even finer Italian leather. With the front seats adjusted for our own long-legged comfort, however, the rear seat is knee- and legroom challenged and a bit tight getting in and out.

The engine start/stop button is oddly positioned (as it is on a Porsche) to the lower left of the leather-covered three-spoke steering wheel, where it’s hidden from view by the spoke, not a problem once learned. The horizontal spokes offer audio, cruise and driver-information center (DIC) controls, and the (available) large manual-shift paddles are an easy reach behind them. Hidden behind the spokes are handy rocker switches (now common on most Chrysler products) for audio volume and forward/reverse.

The lovely seven-inch TFT DIC screen resides between the big, round speedometer and tachometer. Above the central 8.4-inch Maserati Touch Control display, a version of Chrysler’s excellent infotainment touch-screen interface, is a traditional Maserati blue-face oval clock. To either side are much-appreciated knobs for audio volume and tuning, and below it is a row of easy to see, read and reach climate control buttons.

The BMW-like electronic shifter requires a finger pull on a release lever while pushing or pulling to engage Reverse or Drive and doesn’t slide right or left for manual shifting. What does enable that is one of an array of buttons left of the shifter that offer Manual, Sport or I.C.E. (Increased Control Efficiency) dynamic management. Behind them are two covered cup holders, a covered bin with USB and Aux ports for your phone or iPod and a deep covered console box. The 18-cubic-foot trunk is ample and the lift-over low for easy access.

The two-tone leather-lined cabin was sensuously gorgeous and luxuriously quiet and comfortable. But disappointing at this price was the lack of increasingly common driver-assist and safety features such as Active Cruise Control, Blind Spot Information, Lane Keeping Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Assist, etc. Maybe upscale Italians haven’t yet begun to appreciate such useful aids.

Other minor complaints: the outside mirrors dip (good for seeing curbs, bad for backing into a garage) when you shift to reverse whether you want them to or not; the audio mutes completely (understandable but annoying) whenever the parking proximity sensors sound off, and the stalk for turn signals, wipers and high-beams is an awkward reach around the big left shift paddle.

Driving Impressions

15-ghibli-driving-1We spent substantial freeway and suburban time in the Maserati Ghibli, mostly in I.C.E. mode, then gave it a fairly aggressive test on local two-lanes in Sport mode. There was momentary turbo lag when launching from rest, but after that came grin-inducing rocket propulsion from the 404-horsepower twin-turbo V6, accompanied by a muffled animal shriek exhaust note punctuated by distinct turbo huffs with each transmission upshift.

Those shifts come crisply and quickly whether automatically or manually with the paddles. The steering is also delightfully crisp and quick, the cornering athletically agile, the ride nicely damped and the brakes appropriately powerful.

Our composite fuel economy was a respectable 21.0 mpg after the freeway trip and 19.8 mpg following the test. Ghibli is EPA-rated at 15/25 mpg City/Highway, or 18 mpg Combined.

Summary, Prices, Specs

15-ghibli-finalLike most Italian cars in past years, Maseratis have been known for exotic looks and great dynamics more than for quality and reliability, but we noted nothing about this 2015 Ghibli that would cause us worry on those fronts, so Fiat’s marriage with Chrysler and its U.S. resurrection of its low-volume brands is paying off. If there is a Maserati dealership in your area, we suggest checking out this rare Italian beauty as an interesting (but pricey) alternative to a mainstream German, Asian or domestic luxury sedan.

Gary Witzenburg filed this report to NewCarTestDrive.com after his test drive in Michigan.

Model Line Overview
Model lineup:Maserati Ghibli ($66,900); Ghibli S Q4 ($77,900)
Engines:345-hp 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6; 404-hp 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6
Transmissions:8-speed automatic
Safety equipment (standard):front, side-impact, side curtain and driver's knee airbags, Maserati Stability Program (MSP), Brake Assist, automatic hill holder
Safety equipment (optional):all-wheel drive
Basic warranty:4 years/50,000 miles
Assembled in:Turin, Italy
Specifications As Tested
Model tested (MSPR):Maserati Ghibli S Q4 ($77,900)
Standard equipment:dual-zone automatic climate control, Radica open pore wood interior trim, 6-way power front seats, keyless entry with pushbutton start, power tilt/telescoping steering column, rearview camera, 60/40 split folding rear seats, adaptive automatic headlamps with height control, 8-way power heated front seats, power sunroof, 8-speaker audio with Sirius/XM Satellite radio, Travel Link and Traffic, 19-inch polished alloy wheels, bi-xenon automatic headlights with integrated LED DRLs, full LED taillamps
Options as tested (MSPR):Carbon fiber trim ($1,500); Mica Paint ($925); Premium Package ($2,750) including remote start, front and rear parking sensors, power rear sunblind, power foot pedals, Easy Entry, Rain Sensor and premium sound system; Sport Package 20 ($4,750) including sports suspension, red-painted brake calipers, machine-polished 20-inch wheels, paddle shifters and Inox Sport Pedals; Luxury Package ($3,400) extended premium leather
Destination charge:$1250
Gas guzzler tax:N/A
Price as tested (MSPR):$92,475
Layout:rear-wheel drive
Engine:3.0-liter twin-turbo V6
Horsepower (lb.-ft @ rpm):404 @ 5500
Torque (lb.-ft @ rpm):406 @ 1750
Transmission:8-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy:15/25/18 mpg
Wheelbase:118.0 in.
Length/width/height:195.7/82.7/57.5 in.
Track, f/r:64.4/65.1 in.
Turning circle:38.4 ft.
Seating Capacity:5
Head/hip/leg room, f:38.8/na/37.7 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m:N/A
Head/hip/leg room, r:38.8/na/33.2 in.
Cargo volume:18.0 cu. ft.
Payload:N/A
Towing capacity:N/A
Suspension, f:independent, double wishbone
Suspension, r:independent, five-arm multilink
Ground clearance:4.1 in.
Curb weigth:4124 lbs.
Tires:245/45R20 front, 285/35R20 rear
Brakes, f/r:disc/disc with ABS and Brake Assist
Fuel capacity:21.1 gal.
Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle. All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSPR) effective as of December 16, 2014.Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges. N/A: Information not available or not applicable. Manufacturer Info Sources: 800-My-Maserati - www.maserati.us/