When a Maserati drives past, you can’t help but look. The brand — with its iconic trident logo, said to be modelled on the Fountain of Neptune in Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore — prides itself on its core principles of personality, design, and exclusivity. And Maserati has, undoubtedly, become synonymous with luxury and having “made it”.
On a casual winter’s day in Monaco, where Maserati had invited me to test drive the 2018 Ghibli, I had a chance to test out the pipes of the Italian beast.
The Ghibli comes in two model lines, the GranLusso and the GranSport. Before taking you inside, let me talk you through some of the exterior trimmings which give the car its coupé-like attitude. I’m not typically one to obsess about the grille, the spoiler, and the like, but when senior exterior designer Quentin Amore spoke lovingly of the pronounced grille that resembles iconic Maserati cars of the ’50s, the frameless doors, and the range-standard quadruple chromium-plated exhaust pipes, it was hard to deny that some fine detailing has gone into giving the Ghibli (originally launched in 2014) a facelift.
The baseline Ghibli and the Ghibli GranLusso have the same design features, which are more focused on luxury, while the GranSport (my favourite) boasts a subtly more aggressive exterior that gives it a sportier edge. The changes allow the car to be more aerodynamic, which means less resistance when driving.
The upper-range models are also fitted with Adaptive, full-LED headlights developed in collaboration with Magneti Marelli Automotive Lighting. The system is managed by an electronic control unit, a camera, and sensors that use real-time communication to adjust the high- and low-beam patterns, depending on the driving conditions. Hooray for us with photo sensitivity! This feature, as was demonstrated by a clever machine (since we drove during the day), means that when a Ghibli glides past you, you will not be blinded, because the lights will automatically adjust.
But inside is where the real magic happens. Stepping into the car feels like being hugged by a fantastic Italian designer label. The Ermenegildo Zegna silk interior features on the seats, doors panels, roof lining, and ceiling-light fixture, complemented by a Radica open-pore wood trim and wood-finished leather steering wheel, give the interior a lavish feel. The seats have 12-way power adjustment, as well as a power-adjustable steering wheel, all of which helped my short legs reach the pedals. The interior feels luxe but not ostentatious, and, while I was impressed, it was a little underwhelming considering the price tag.
And now for the drive, but first a preamble. My friend kept reminding me how Grace Kelly died on the windy roads of Monaco, so, coupled with the left-hand drive, this made for a nervous condition. But the way the car handles is like a dream, gliding and manoeuvring with ease, even through the incredibly narrow and windy roads. The sound of the Ferrari-manufactured V6 engines, is enough to make it all worthwhile, and you don’t even have to be flying to experience the glorious purr-growl. The Ghibli is just a little smaller than a Rolls-Royce, but you definitely don’t feel as if you are handling an untameable beast. The car felt balanced and stable, although the petrol version was an easier ride, as the diesel has a heaviness that takes some getting used to. The models I drove also had Highway Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, and Traffic Sign Recognition which made traversing the European roads easier. Would I buy a Ghibli given the means? It’s a yes from me.
The model lines range between R1,750,000 and R2,000,000.