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Driven: Maserati Ghibli fights back

Sedan shift: Maserati’s Ghibli is now ranked number three in the large luxury passenger car segment behind Mercedes-Benz’s E-Class and BMW’s 5 Series.

Facelifted Maserati Ghibli lands a punch for the luxury sedans against SUVs


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22 Mar 2018

MASERATI Australia has launched what it is describing as “a sedan fightback” with its newly refreshed and enhanced Ghibli, pointing to a 145 per cent jump in sales of the large sports sedan so far this year as evidence of customer willingness to join the battle.

The Ghibli push – frequently against its own similarly priced and mechanically related Maserati SUV sibling, the Levante – will step up a notch in September when the company adds the Nerissimo (Italian for “total black”) limited-edition to the Australian Ghibli line-up that recently was extended to nine variants.

Introduced for 2018, the facelifted Ghibli achieved 71 sales in the first two months of this year, placing it a creditable third behind the segment-leading Mercedes-Benz E-Class (271) and BMW 5 Series (119) and ahead of the Audi A6 (22).

It has even outsold its Levante stablemate (62), flying against the trend of recent years in which luxury large SUV buyers outnumber luxury large sedan buyers by six to one.

Maserati took the opportunity of the 2018 Ghibli facelift to add electric power steering, more electronic safety features and reshaped bumpers and grille, along with a reorganised and expanded range that now has nine variants spanning prices from $138,990 to $195,990 (plus on-road costs).

Buyers can choose from three 3.0-litre V6 powertrains – a 202kW/600Nm turbo-diesel in the Ghibli D, a 257kW/500Nm bi-turbo petrol in the Ghibli, and an enhanced 316kW/580Nm bi-turbo petrol in the Ghibli S.

The latter packs 19kW and 30Nm more than before, slicing 0.1 seconds from the zero to 100km/h dash, to 4.7s. Fuel economy is 9.5 litres per 100km, which is 0.6L/100km more than the standard Ghibli.

Priced at $175,990 without any add-on packages, the Ghibli S is about $16,000 dearer than one of its perceived rivals, the Mercedes-AMG E43, that also features a twin-turbo V6 but with less grunt, at 295kW and 520Nm.

All variants get ZF’s ubiquitous eight-speed automatic transmission offering five modes, including a manual sports function for gear changes controlled by steering wheel paddles.

On top of the engine choices, buyers can select from three specifications – the standard Ghibli, Ghibli GranLusso (Grand Luxury) and Ghibli GranSport.

The Lusso package includes a chrome grille, 19-inch alloy wheels, body-colour side skirts and black brake callipers.

Inside, the luxury touches include 12-way powered seats with memory function, a choice of premium leather or Ermenegildo Zegna Silk Edition upholstery, plus open-pore wood trim that extends to the steering wheel.

LED adaptive headlights, soft-close doors, Harman Kardon premium sound system, a power rear sunblind, power foot pedals and an electrically lockable, PIN-protected passenger glovebox are also included.

Like the GranLusso, the GranSport gets Maserati’s so-called SkyHook premium suspension with adaptive damping.

The GranSport also gets 20-inch sports alloy wheels, red brake callipers, piano-black bumper inserts and optional black grille.

Sports seats – also with 12-way electric action – and sports steering wheel and pedals are included.

Because steering power assistance is now electric instead of hydraulic, Maserati was able to add lane-keeping assist to Ghibli, along with a pile of other safety technologies missing from the car since it was launched in Australia four years ago.

These include adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, active blind spot assist and a development of ESC called integrated vehicle control.

When it arrives in the third quarter of this year, the Ghibli Nerissimo is expected to be available on the petrol versions in a limited run. Prices will be announced closer to launch.

As the name suggests, the Nerissimo package is black on black – black paint, black chrome, black alloys, black leather upholstery, piano black trim and even black trident badges. The headlight and windows are all dark tinted as well.

It also comes with a choice of 20- or 21-inch wheels, and – unlike the standard Ghibli – gets heated front seats, a power boot lid and keyless entry extended to the rear doors.

The Ghibli Nerissimo was unveiled at last week’s Geneva motor show alongside similarly blacked-out versions of the Levante and Quattroporte.

So far, only the black Ghibli has been confirmed for Australia, but the other two seem to be a no-brainer at some point.

2018 Maserati Ghibli pricing*
Ghibli D (a)$138,990
Ghibli (a)$143,990
Ghibli S (a)$175,990
Ghibli D GranLusso (a)$159,990
Ghibli GranLusso (a)$163,990
Ghibli S GranLusso (a)$195,990
Ghibli D GranSport (a)$159,990
Ghibli GranSport (a)$163,990
Ghibli S GranSport (a)$195,990
*Excludes on-road costs

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