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Behind the Wheel: 2018 Maserati Ghibli GranLusso

Published: 15/05/2018 - Filed under: Home » News »

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Behind the Wheel: 2018 Maserati Ghibli GranLusso

Other than once dating a girl who drove a 2005 GranTurismo, my time with the 2018 Maserati Ghibli was my first extended experience with the Italian car maker.
 
Behind the Wheel: 2018 Maserati Ghibli GranLusso
 
From the moment I was handed the enormous metal key and heard the roar of the Maranello-designed and built engine, I knew I was in love. The Ghibli is the smaller of the two Maserati sedans (the larger being the Quattroporte) and the least expensive Maserati model. Starting at $73,780, it's only slightly less expensive than a base model Levante ($74,790), their SUV (both are 2018 prices).
 
For that $74K (before options) you get a beautifully styled, well-designed mid-size luxury sedan, similar in size to a BMW 5-series or Audi A6. The base-level Ghibli (there's also an S and an all-wheel-drive S Q4) comes with a silky-smooth twin-turbo V6 with 345 horsepower. That's enough for a 0-60 time of 5.5 seconds and a top speed of 166. The Ghibli S tunes the same engine to 424 hp, bringing the 0-60 time down to 4.9 seconds and raising the top speed to 179 mph (for $79,540). The AWD S Q4 starts at $82,060. Beyond the different models, there are two trim levels also available, the performance-oriented GranSport and the luxury-oriented GranLusso. My test car was the GranLusso and although sumptuous, it would roar like a wild Italian animal in Sport mode.

Behind the Wheel: 2018 Maserati Ghibli GranLusso

The Drive
I drove the Ghibli back and forth between Palm Springs and Los Angeles twice, to the Coachella music festival and through the mountains to Idyllwild. Regardless of the road or conditions, it was just a pleasure to drive. Even though it wasn't the most powerful S model, with the car in Sport mode, it was fast and responsive. The suspension is also greatly affected by the drive mode selection, but it leaves a little bit to be desired on rough roads, especially freeways like the 91 in Orange County, California.

The tactile experience for driver and passengers is magnificent with hand-stitched, full-leather seats, complimented by what Maserati calls Radica open wood trim. The leather is sourced from Italian design firm Poltrona Frau, which also supplies hides for Ferrari interiors. There's also a bit of carbon fiber and some very nice dark-finish aluminum as well. As the luxury version, the GranLusso lacked paddle shifters, which I think it needs. The 8-speed ZF transmission is precise and accurate and can be used in a manual mode, shifting with the transmission selector. With the car in Sport mode, taken to the redline, the exhaust makes wonderful blips as it's shifted.
 
Behind the Wheel: 2018 Maserati Ghibli GranLusso
 
Style
With the Ghibli, Maserati delivers a unique, modern, stylish mid-size sedan that looks unique. It has an overall gently curving outline led by the bold grill and large Maserati trident logo. My test car, shown in the photos, was white with a brown on brown leather interior. The large, 19-inch Poseidone rims (with optional black brake calipers) give the car a modern, cool stance. The rear end is sleek with a bold, Maserati nameplate right in the center and quad exhausts.
 
Exclusivity
Though not normally a category I use in reviewing cars, this is one of the Ghibli's strongest assets. I drove the car for two weeks and never saw another Ghibli. I certainly saw hundreds of the BMW 5-series', Audi A6s or Mercedes E-classes it's supposed to compete with. To that end, according to some motor press reports, Maserati has limited their annual output, of all models, to 75,000 units. I also like how the brand is focused upward. Don't expect to see any cheaper Maserati models, they're looking to create more higher end cars and limited editions. The company is a part of FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) and they are relying on Alfa Romeo (another brand owned by FCA) to cover that less than $80K luxury sports sedan market. 

Behind the Wheel: 2018 Maserati Ghibli GranLusso

Verdict
Buying or leasing a Ghibli comes down to your own personal value of the Maserati brand. You can get a faster, possibly more reliable car from Audi or BMW but I just don't think you'll have as much fun every time you turn on the engine. It can be expensive, as yes, the base Ghibli starts at under $80K, but if you want a sporty GranSport with the better tuned engine and the almost-necessary suite of safety and driver aid features, your car will be closer to $100K. A Ghibli S Q4 GranSport, without options, is $87,620. In Los Angeles, Maserati has a lease offer for the base Ghibli at $5,999 down and $699 per month, for 36 months (or 0 percent financing for 72 months). As a comparison, the Audi S6 starts at $71,900 and comes with their great quattro all-wheel-drive. The BMW 540i is $58,200 with 335 hp or you can spend $73,900 for the M550I xDrive with 465 hp, all-wheel-drive and twin-turbo V8.
 
Behind the Wheel: 2018 Maserati Ghibli GranLusso

Photos by Freddy Sherman

By Freddy Sherman

Freddy is a regular contributor to Business Traveler across all print, digital, web and social channels.  To follow Freddy directly, you can find more of his content at luxuryfred.com and here:

     YouTube - Freddy Sherman channel
     Twitter - 
@luxuryfred
     Instagram - 
@luxuryfred
     Facebook - 
Luxury Fred

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