June 05, 2015 @ 06:46 PM

Maserati Ghibli: This one is for everyone

The Ghibli may be billed as Maserati’s entry model but this four-door sport saloon is anything but. By Chris Ng

 
The Ghibli may be billed as Maserati’s entry model but this four-door sport saloon is anything but. By Chris Ng
 
Late last year, I drove a few Maserati as part of the company’s 100th birthday do. It was held in Oman, which provided a surprisingly beautiful backdrop for these equally amazing Italian beauties – Ghibli, Quattroporte and a very special GranCabrio. If you missed that issue, you can read it again here. We’ll start with the Maserati Ghibli…
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The scenery is absolutely breath-taking for a country that I thought was mostly camels and sand. Instead, my optics is taking in rocky landscape supplied by the mountain that is seemingly fringed by the turquoise-blue bodies of water from the Gulf of Oman. Above me, cloudless clear blue skies finishes the scene fit for a water colour painting. I’m sure someone has already done one and hanging on a wall somewhere.
 
Despite the sun, the weather isn’t all too hot. In fact, with the clock showing that it is just an hour away from midday; the mercury should indicate temperatures closer to what you’d feel in Genting Highlands in the morning. Maybe even cooler. But time is still ticking away and I have plenty of cars to test.
 
I hop back in the Ghibli S and fire its engine. The first route I’ve chosen among three will put me on a mountain pass that will take me back to the hotel. Right now, I’m on a cliff somewhere near a place called Bandar Al Khiran. I don’t see any bandar here. I set off. The roads are smooth, if not narrow. In certain areas, the tarmac hugs too close to the rocky face while in other places, the road snakes way from the mountain only to open up on stints of straight roads. 
You’ll open up the valves on these long straights. The sound – that metallic burbling bass note only a V6 can produce – is inspiring. But listening to that soundtrack in a Maserati takes it to a new level. It puts you on a stage then stimulates your senses. Hit the Sport mode button and the exhaust valves open permanently, shattering the quietness of the desert. You want to go faster. The 404bhp/550Nm 3.6-litre twin turbo powerplant, mated to a quick eight-speed ZF automatic, says you can. Floor the pedal and the Ghibli will get you to 100kph from standstill in just 5.0 seconds, and then continue to a top speed of 285kph.
 
Here’s the hard part: Oman strictly enforces their speed limit and keeping it below the limit is actually quite a big ask. It does not take much for the car to turn over speeds of 130kph, and it does so without a peep from the engine. So you’ll quickly run to the twisted roads of the mountain in hopes that the law don’t find you here.
Driving close to the jagged rocky face of the mountain is unnerving. One needed to be really sure the direction that nose is pointed at before committing to the course. The Ghibli S is more than willing to work with you. Confidence coming from the wheel deletes all opportunities for second guesses – you know where the front wheels are pointed at and high levels of grip compounds the sensation. Feedback is not overwhelming although it is enough to tell you that the front-right tyres have just explored the gravel.  
 
Hours later, I drive the Ghibli and the Ghibli Diesel and find the cars behave in the same manner. The exception here is the diesel-powered Maserati does not feel that it is burning alternative fuel. Even the nose does not feel weighed down as how diesel-engined cars usually feel. All things considered, I’d put my money for the Ghibli Diesel. Except that it will not be officially brought into Malaysia due to the nation’s fuel quality.
 
In other words, if you’re looking to enter the world of Maserati, you should really start with the Ghibli S. Nothing wrong with the standard Ghibli, the appointments in here feels much more luxurious than its price suggest. It is just the Ghibli S offers that extra power to go that much faster, that will put you much closer to the top range Maserati models.
 
Ghibli
Price
RM538,800
Engine
2979cc, V6, twin turbo, 326bhp @ 5000rpm, 500Nm @ 1750-4500rpm 
Transmission
8-speed ZF automatic, rear-wheel drive
Performance
0-100 in 5.6s, max speed 263kph, 9.6l/100km
 
Ghibli S
Price
RM628,800
Engine
2979cc, V6, twin turbo, 404bhp @ 5500rpm, 550Nm @ 1750-5000rpm 
Transmission
8-speed ZF automatic, rear-wheel drive
Performance
0-100 in 5.0s, max speed 285kph, 10.4l/100km 
 

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