It has been nearly two decades since I drove a Ghibli and I must say this 2017 facelift rekindles my fond memories of it.
The car has grown considerably since then, coming across as big as a Mercedes-Benz E-class, with a wide and low stance befitting a serious luxury-performance sedan.
Despite its size, rear room is nowhere as generous as that in an E-class or a BMW 5-series. Its bulk is well compensated by a 3-litre twin-turbo V6 that puts out 350bhp – 20bhp more than pre-facelift. Peak torque remains unchanged at 500Nm. It is an engine that is tuned for stamina rather than sheer slaughter, with plenty of mid-range grunt and buckets of reserves.
ENGINE: 2,979cc 24-valve twin-turbocharged V6
POWER: 350bhp at 5,000rpm
TORQUE: 500Nm at 1,750-4,500rpm
0-100KMH: 5.5 seconds
TOP SPEED: 267kmh
The car clocks a more respectable 5.5-second century sprint and a peak velocity of 267kmh. It is not quite in BMW M5 territory, but as indicated, it is eminently suitable for those who want their day-to-day commutes to be generously layered with sound and fury.
And of course, the Ghibli is imbued with old-school Maserati charm too. Its exhaust note – accessible even at low revs – is loud enough to wake the dead. Its steering wheel is extraordinarily big. Its seats are bigger. At the helm, I am reminded a bit of my 12-year-old self, sneaking a drive in my dad’s big Peugeot while he was napping.
Its steering is highly responsive, highly communicative, but a tad unforgiving. So you need to get well-acquainted with the car’s enormous chassis to exploit its prowess.
Its wide, low-slung tracks confers it plenty of dynamic adherence. Yet, you are keenly aware of its size, weight and twitchy steering that will be more appreciated on the track than on the road.
If, however, you are tired of the often flawless predictability of Teutonic fare, this Italian stallion will surely awaken your senses.
As a grand tourer, it is better than most. It has a firm but still pliant suspension. Its cabin has a sporty architecture and yet is very cushy. And as said, it has a strong power plant tuned for long-legged sprints across the country. You can rev and rev and there is still more to come from the free-breathing V6.
The facelifted car has a number of new features, including an infotainment system with a high-resolution 8.4-inch touchscreen, redesigned central console with rotary iDrive-like control, air quality sensor and 360-degree camera.
The Sports Pack version tested here costs $40,000 more. It gets bigger wheels, sports seats, a 13-speaker Harman Kardon hi-fi, slotted disc brakes with red callipers, carbon-fibre trim, sports steering wheel with big paddles, sportier foot pedals, fine-grain leather upholstery and an adaptive suspension system.
It is a worthwhile package, except for the seats. At my age, my posterior prefers comfort over sportiness. The other parts of me are thankfully still able to appreciate a car that is as brutish and as polished as the Ghibli.
Story first appeared on The Straits Times.
PHOTOS Kevin Lim / The Straits Times / Singapore Press Holdings