An irregular current blows through the neighbourhood.
Maserati: the very name evokes charisma, although broad Yorkshire tones tend to offer a less divine-sounding Mazz-Uratty. The model names themselves convey equally evocative overtones; even a dusty, dry wind from North Africa manages to cleave enigmatic inflections – Ghibli.
Not the poster boy from the 1960s however – today we pore over the modern, everyday Ghibli – the tipo M157, revealed to the world in Shanghai 2013. Produced in the former Bertone manufacturing plant of Grugliasco, close to Turin, life for the new Ghibli began under FCA’s Centro Stile direction, Marco Tencone seemingly responsible for overseeing those dashingly good looks.
Plans were hatched to offer this as an Italian alternative to those oversubscribed German executives – projections being for 50,000 per year within two years on sale. Somewhat contrite when compared against such sales heroes but the Ghibli would nevertheless transform Maserati’s own presence in several marketplaces, especially since engines offered included a marque first – a fleet-friendly diesel.
Yes, for European customers at least, il Tridente could pour the black stuff down the throat of a sixty degree V6 Diesel engine purloined from fellow Stellantis son, Jeep’s oil-burning Grand Cherokee. Ferrari-based Paulo Martinelli garnished a sharper feel to proceedings. Good for 271 HP and over 600 NM of torque, the VM Motori-made graphite iron block with aluminium head unit could cause a license-losing 155mph whilst returning believable fuel figures. A foil to the fünf, an exaltation to the E.
Rudolph’s motor clearly assisted Maserati break sales records – 6,000 Ghibli’s alone sold in its first year. As of 24th September 2019, 100,000 desert winds of all flavours had blown. With a steel monocoque combined with aluminium subframes, the architecture is shared with the equally rapturous sounding, if less comely Quattroporte.
Ghiblis are 4,971mm in length, 1,945mm wide and 1,461mm high, the wheelbase 2mm short of three metres. Quattroporte’s extend matters overall by 290mm and that car’s wheelbase another 200mm. Ghibli’s suspension is made up at the front by double wishbones, with five-links, aft. Options include the enchanting sounding Skyhook suspension of which your author knows absolutely nothing.
Whilst that diesel engine subscribes to both sonorous exhaust note and massive grunt, Maserati has always been about petrol power. One expects such an owner unconcerned at trivialities such as consumption or taxes. On a recent lunchtime walk for some urgent couscous for that evening’s tagine, the portend of a V6 reverberating off suburban environs had my eyes searching for its origins. Lo, a black Ghibli burbled around the corner, the unseen driver subtly prodding the throttle to delight my aural senses, as though on demand.
With today’s norm seemingly three cylinder turbo noises or the eerie silence of the electrical chariot, a decidedly fruity yet not wholly intrusive bark from the organ pipes was most welcome. Being greedy, a V8 would have been sexier to listen to. Badge obscured by passing traffic, my untrained ears could not ascertain if this model was just a base model or the S version.
One sees Stuttgart’s E almost everywhere, 5 series less so, the A6 maybe somewhere in between. But this pristine, 2016 model Ghibli, homing into view the remains a sight to behold alongside a joy to hear. Nothing dusty or depressive, here. A semblance of Atlantic meeting North African coast.
Standard petrol Ghiblis keep a 2,979cc 60 degree V6, shoving out 345bhp at 5,000rpm and 369 foot pounds of turning effort under the bonnet. The S nudges up those outputs to 400 for both power and torque. Designed by Maserati, assembled and tested by Ferrari, produced in the Trenton Engine Plant, Indiana under Chrysler’s watchful eye, the F160 is all aluminium. SQ4 models provide AWD, whereas the rare and thirsty Trofeo model shoehorns in that V8 and cracks 200mph. All Ghibli’s employ an 8 speed auto ZF gearbox alongside a rear LSD.
That centralised trident placed within a dozen vertical chromed slats makes for a bold statement. The DRG is a shade under aggressive, more assured, expectant of something less mundane than a shopping excursion. Sculptured headlights seek out apexes, not potential roadkill or diversion signs, although the late be-jumpered one obviously saw Ghibli as the model to ply the intercity routes of the world. One’s memory of witnessing another example stretches back some time – years, maybe? But isn’t that the eternal compromise? Maserati’s should be exclusive – not found on just any given street corner or company car park. As always, a difficult balance.
The be-chromed DLO excites – the body sides themselves could be from cut glass – the elegant up-kick toward the rear wheel, where the power swells is the isobar to the far from languid leading front edge. Whether the extra egg-shaped surrounding trident motif found above the rear wheel arch and fuel filler is necessary is down to personal opinion. Personally, no – I prefer the three minuscule ventiports along the front swage-line. Definitively bold, uncompromisingly ostentatious – and blithely pointless. But jolly well there.
That rear end is gallant; lines cleave where they should, the subtle Kamm tail, the chrome underlining the Ghibli’s family name should you find yourself unsure of its origin. The lights conform nicely but perhaps the best rear area being the four exhaust pipes – subtle in looks and melodious. From launch, the car’s cd factor was 0.31. A mild 2020 facelift saw this down to 0.29 along with the option of a hybrid powertrain.
Whereas the Germans keep their presumed air of indifference, Ghibli, akin to a Coventry cat, associates itself with a clientele more discerning, more considerate in their bearing and deportment. Which is also probably the reason for the car’s apparent rarity. Examples eight years old (and plenty younger) are no longer found within the safe confines of the approved dealer.
From an independent dealer (caveat emptor), twenty thousand pounds Sterling should ensnare this rakish four door take on the norm if you’re suffering that Mediterranean mood. Might even make the neighbours curtains twitch. As a desert wind blows through the neighbourhood, a cri de Coeur, nothing sinister.
 The former Bertone plant in Grugliasco was acquired by FCA in 2009. Renamed and re-inaugurated as the Avvocato Giovanni Agnelli plant (AGAP) in 2013, it is currently the home of the current series of Maserati models. (ED)
 From launch, the base engine produced 20bhp less