2014 Maserati Ghibli
2014 Maserati Ghibli
2014 Maserati Ghibli. Click image to enlarge

Preview by Paul Williams, by Paul Williams and courtesy Maserati

Los Angeles – According to Maserati, the Ghibli is smaller, shorter, lighter, more dynamic, less expensive and more economical to operate than the company’s flagship Quattroporte sedan. But when you think Maserati, you’re surely thinking that their definition of “less expensive” will still put it in six-digit exotic Italian car territory anyway, right?

True, the Ghibli’s not going to compete with mainstream family cars, so don’t get your hopes up, but the big news is that it will compete with cars like the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. And pity poor Cadillac, just now trying to shoulder their way into this segment with a fine new CTS. Well, here’s another competitor: a sexy Italian with a Ferrari-built engine underhood. If I was in this market segment, I’d want to check that out, for sure!

The idea, according to Maserati, is to create a more sporty, youthful and affordable car that’s based on the Quattroporte. To that end the Ghibli shares much of its core architecture – including its crash safety, chassis, suspension architecture, engines and its LED headlight technology – with the larger Quattroporte. However, it is 50 kilograms lighter, has a 173 mm shorter wheelbase and is 291 mm shorter overall.

The result is a dynamic and generously proportioned mid-size sport luxury sedan that bears a happy resemblance to the Quattroporte, at half the price.

Two engine options are offered in North America, both 3.0L, twin-turbocharged V6 powerplants making 345 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque and 404 hp and 406 lb-ft torque respectively. The Ghibli gets the “base” engine, while the Ghibli S and the Ghibli S Q4 (all-wheel drive) are equipped with the more powerful engine. The difference between them is the use of special camshafts, increased turbo boost and different engine management settings for the S and S Q4.

Both engine options are mated to a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission and all trim levels are fitted with Brembo brakes, an all-aluminum double-wishbone front and five-bar multi-link rear suspension. According to Maserati, for reasons of customer demand, the company “has bypassed the trend to electro-hydraulic steering systems. The Ghibli employs a speed-sensitive, servo-powered hydraulic system that prevents unpleasantly artificial assistance when the driver turns the wheel quickly.”

2014 Maserati Ghibli2014 Maserati Ghibli
2014 Maserati Ghibli. Click image to enlarge

As you may know, Maserati vehicles emit a distinctive exhaust note – it’s part of the Maserati tradition. In the Ghibli, the sound and performance of the exhaust system is controlled by pneumatic valves in the pipes. Exhaust gases pass through a Maserati Sound Tank, and in Normal mode, bypass valves are closed, producing a “comfortable and discreet” engine sound. In Sport mode, the car adjusts a range of handling parameters and the exhaust valves open, giving the Ghibli its “maximum engine performance and the unique Maserati engine sound.” Nice to know you won’t need to pay extra for this!

Another interesting feature is that the Ghibli uses a standard mechanical limited slip differential in both its rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions. Additionally, the Q4 all-wheel-drive system leaves the front wheels passive until extra traction is required, making the Ghibli S Q4 effectively a rear-wheel-drive car in normal driving conditions. When grip is lost, the system, according to Maserati, takes 150 milliseconds to change from delivering 100 percent of the drive to the rear wheels, to a maximum 50/50 split between the front and rear axles. Maserati points out that because the rear suspension itself provides so much traction, the Q4 typically doesn’t need to send more than 35 percent of the drive to the front wheels.

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