Maserati’s first-ever diesel is right at home in a super saloon, writes Philip Hedderman
The very word Maserati is enough to conjure up exotic dreams of driving through small Italian villages in a blood-red convertible on a blisteringly hot day.
The snarl of the V8, wind in your hair and nothing but open road ahead of you.
Motoring nirvana I think you’ll agree, but how would that backdrop sound in a diesel?
Yes, you read right – a diesel.
You see, in order to become a real global player the luxury marque needs a volume seller and they believe the Ghibli is it.
In fact, Maserati predict that sales will rocket from just 6,000 in 2012 to 75,000 by 2018.
There are of course other models in the pipeline like the Levante crossover SUV and the Jaguar F-Type rival, the Alfieri Coupe, but they won’t be here until next year.
For now a lavish limo is the order of the day and for the first time ever it comes as an oil burner.
Now in it’s third outing – first as a two-door coupe and spider in the late Sixties an then as a Bi turbo in the Nineties – the Ghibli is lending its name to a four-door super saloon.
Based on the flagship Quattroporte (meaning four doors) the Ghibli is shorter (291 mm), lighter (90kgs) and much more fuel efficient.
The 3.0 litre V6 bangs out a decent 275bhp with a 0-100kmh of 5 seconds flat and a top end of 285kph while returning an eye-watering 47mpg (6l/100km).
But the most important stat for Irish customers is the CO2 count of just 158g/km meaning annual road tax of just €570.
As expected, the Ghibli oozes style and glamour with the same front end as the awesome Gran Turismo complete with the iconic trident badge, squinting headlight and massively flared wheel arches.
Flowing lines up the flanks below the signature side air vents give this hulking car a real sleek, coupe-like feel.
The back isn’t quite as exciting with a narrow rear windscreen and thin LED light clusters give it a Lexus-like tush, but those quad chrome exhausts redeem it somewhat.
Inside it’s wall-to-wall luxury with leather and natural wood finish at your fingertips while the sporty cabin is loaded with the state-of-the-art gadgetry like Apple’s Siri voice-control phone and onboard wifi.
Standard kit is more than generous with leather seats, Bi-xenon headlighights, sat nav, cruise control, climate control, reversing camera and colour 8 inch touch screen infotainment system twinned to 8 speakers.
Great, but cars like the Ghibli will live or die by the drive which should be nothing short of exhilarating and the handling flawless.
Unfortunately it’s neither of these compared to the epic 460bhp Gran Cabrio (which we also tested).
Unlike the petrol units which are designed and built by Ferrari, the oil burner is a tweaked version of a Chrysler Unit (similar to the one used in the Jeep Grand Cherokee) which is less than refined but pokey enough.
That said, it is one of the finest diesels on the market and only trumped by the Audi A6 Bi Turbo which is boasting 313bhp and constant all wheel drive.
Prices are similar but I think the iconic badge will swing it for most looking to make a statement.
It’s bloody good value for money too and although prices do take figuring out – with currency conversion and VRT on top – you are probably looking at between €70- €100k.
My philosophy though is hung for a sheep as a lamb – go the extra €50k and take home the Gran Cabrio.