During Super Bowl 2014, Maserati ran an ad for the Ghibli, their newest entry into the sports sedan market. As we already know, a car company needs a decent entry-level sports sedan in order to grow and thrive. You can survive as a low-output exotic, or a medium output regional car with a little global appeal. But you will only get so big. Which isn’t a bad thing if you want to be known for building special cars. Like Ferrari or Lotus.
But if you want to grow your company and make your stockholders even more fat and happy, you need an entry-level sports sedan.
Over the past few years, a trickle of new high-end Maseratis made inroads into the US market. If you watched the HBO show “Entourage”, you probably remember the Maserati GranTurismo that Eric Murphy (Kevin Connolly) drove. I remembered it. A lot.
After Fiat bought Chrysler, things changed. In 2011, Maserati announced a goal to sell 50,000 cars/year by 2015. In order to do that they needed to go where the money is; especially in the United States.
They needed an entry-level sports sedan.
So they came up with the Ghibli.
Actually, they came back to the Ghibli.
You may not know it, but this is the third iteration for a car named after the Arabic word for a hot dust-bearing wind of the North African desert.
Let’s hop in the “Wayback Machine” for a quick history of the Maserati Ghibli
In 1967, Maserati introduced the first iteration of the Ghibli, seen in the slideshow Long, lean curves. A tapered snout, low to the ground, where it can find plenty of cool air to feed a 310 hp V8 that could go 0-60 in 6.8 seconds. Sexy and fast, just like the ones Mom said stay away from. The Ghibli was one of the first cars designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro. If that name is familiar, it is with good reason. Georgette Giugiaro has designed a long list of things, including:
- VW Passat, Golf and Jetta
- Fiat 850 Spyder, Panda and Punto
- BMW M1
- Lotus Esprit
- Delorean DMC12
The Ghibli was an unmitigated hit for Maserati, and remained in production until 1973, replaced by the Khamsin.
Then the desert wind stopped blowing.
It picked up again in 1992 when Maserati introduced the Ghibli II. This version of the Ghibli was designed by Marcello Gandini, known for the Lamborghini Countach, the original BMW 5-series, and the Lancia Stratos. Not shabby.
The Ghibli II rolled into showrooms with a twin-turbo V6 that generated 306 hp. Over the car’s production run, Maserati added ABS, a Getrag manual 6-speed tranny, electronic suspension, two models with even larger V6’s, and a ultra-luxe version. The production run ended in the 1997 model year.
That desert wind blew fierce from 1992-1997. And then it died.
For 2014, the North African wind started blowing again. This time, it blew in the absolutely epic-looking Maserati Ghibli Diesel. This Ghibli is their new attempt to start people up the model ladder. Although it is classified as ‘entry level’, it’s competitors are the BMW 5-Series, the E-Class Mercedes, Audi A6, or the Jaguar XF.
Remember, I mentioned that Maserati bought an ad for the new Ghibli during Super Bowl 2014. You may not recall it, like most Super Bowl ads. But I’ve got it right here. Please watch it, as the commercial makes a very good point about what sets the car apart from the rest.
After the setup, the tale of ‘walking out of the shadows to strike’, did you hear that engine roar?
On that Super Bowl Sunday, I saw the ad.
Rather, I wasn’t paying attention until I heard that engine roar; then I about dropped my plate trying to see what the heck was making that noise on the TV.
No other competitor in the Ghibli’s class makes that noise. That throaty roar, called an exhaust note, is almost a reason to buy the car alone.
Full disclosure, my personal run-in with the Ghibli was at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show. I was invited behind the rope by a Maserati rep, who let me sit in both front and back seats, breathe in the smell of fresh leather, deafen myself on the stereo, play with the controls, and told me stories of the how and why of the new Ghibli.
What is my takeaway?
The 2014 Maserati Ghibli diesel is a worthy entrant into the sports sedan market. My first-hand experience is that it’s luxurious as any Mercedes, Jaguar or BMW. In fact, the inside is a little more on rich side than it’s entry-level competitors. It looks like Maserati did some homework on where they could easily beat the competition. Instead of a very nice, but lower quality leather, Maserati went with something as nice as one could find in the next two cars up the ladder. You can choose a wood or carbon-fiber interior. You can make the interior your own, as the range of colors offers you 19 different color combinations.
The Ghibli starts at $66,900. The base price leaves you with a very plush vehicle. There are 9 optional packages. Depending on your combination, you could easily get close to $85,000.
For that kind of money the Ghibli has the technology and the toys. adaptive LED headlights, smart key fob, heated steering wheel, 7″ LED screen, and more. The optional crystal-clear Bowers & Wilkins stereo will blow your mind.
Performance-wise, if you can’t be moved by a 3-liter diesel that generates 471 lb./ft of torque, you are dead. If an estimated 47.8 mpg doesn’t move you, you are really actually brain dead. Styling-wise, the Ghibli is a Maserati. If you go through the slideshow, you’ve seen its lineage. This iteration shares design notes with Quattroporte, GranTurismo, and GranCabrio. You see their echoes in the lines of the Ghibli.
Plus the car drives like a Maserati. In the video, the Autogefuhl reviewer, Thomas Majchrzak, has a bit of fun driving the car and makes a specific point about handling and performance. Be sure to take a look at the video above.