What is it?
The Ghibli — pronounced “gib-lee” with a hard g — is Maserati’s entry-level midsize luxury sports sedan, slotting below the full-size Quattroporte.
Is it new?
Not especially. Maserati launched the Ghibli for the 2013 model year, and it's stayed mostly the same since. Maserati recently announced some significant changes for 2021, including a mild-hybrid version and a 580 hp V8-powered Ghibli Trofeo. But I drove the tried and true 3.0-liter V6 Ghibli.
Why is it special?
It’s a Maserati. The name denotes something exotic and fancy, and gets people intrigued. Saying you own a Maserati is much of the appeal of owning a Maserati.
Adding to the appeal: another storied Italian automotive name, Ferrari, builds Maserati’s engines (at least for now), and the Ghibli starts at about a third of the price of the cheapest prancing horse.
Plus, my Ghibli tester looked stunning in its “Blu Emozione” paint. Indeed, it's my new favorite car paint color.
How does it drive?
Solidly. The Ghibli has a decent amount of pop in S Q4-spec, with 424 horsepower and a sub-5.0-second 0 to 60 mph time. It feels nimble, and steers crisply; the all-wheel-drive delivers substantial grip, even when I had to leave the pavement to attend another automotive event. The Ferrari V6 engine emits a great crackle, even if you can’t always hear it within the cabin. The whole experience was fun, though not so fun that I thought twice about turning on the adaptive cruise control on the highway.
The trouble with the Ghibli is that good is not good enough in its segment. Producing excellent sedans is what Mercedes, BMW, and Audi do best, and their foes — the E-Class, 5 Series and A6 — have been updated more recently. There isn’t much of a comparison point between a masterpiece like the Mercedes-AMG E53 and the Ghibli, yet they start at about the same price. And even if you have your heart set on an Italian-styled FCA-branded sports sedan, the sublime Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio exists.
It’s also worth noting the Ghibli absolutely gulps down gas. It’s rated for 16 mpg city by the EPA. I was getting about 13 mpg in real driving.
What is it like inside?
Luxurious but tight — sort of like if you crammed a super-plush leather couch into a small room. The Ghibli sacrificed rear cabin space to accommodate golf clubs in the trunk; as such, the back seat feels more like that of a compact sedan. It’s hard for adults to use and get in and out of.
Maserati does use some FCA parts bin switchgear that appears in cheaper cars. That said, the people who buy a Maserati will probably not recognize it.
What’s it cost?
The Ghibli starts at $72,190. I didn’t get an exact price for my tester, but the S Q4 trim starts at $79,960.
2020 Maserati Ghibli S Q4
Powertrain: 3.0-liter V6; 8-speed automatic, all-wheel-drive
Horsepower: 424 hp
Torque: 428 lb-ft
EPA Fuel Economy: 16 mpg city, 24 mpg highway
Seats: Five, snugly in the back