There’s barely time to breathe, let alone check your mirrors, when you’re barreling down the back straight of a rural Italian proving ground in a four-door sedan at 155 mph, without as much as a helmet or a clue where you’re going. Track access doesn’t happen every day, and it’s usually reserved for testing the world’s most powerful performance cars — not family sedans. But the Ferrari-powered 2017 Maserati Ghibli isn’t your typical sedan, either.
You deserve to give Maserati a chance, particularly if you haven’t paid much attention to the brand lately. With the addition of the Levante SUV, and an updated Quattroporte sedan, the Italian luxury automaker is more competitive than ever. The Ghibli makes a substantial case for considering the merits of Italian luxury, and we were at Balocco — the legendary track that’s also home to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ year-round vehicle performance testing — to check out the tweaks that Maserati’s entry-level sedan has received for the new year.
The Ghibli, now at “mid-life,” benefits from technological and safety enhancements to make it drive more smoothly and more easily. On the tech side, the navigation/infotainment system in the Quattorporte is standard equipment on the Ghibli — replacing a slow unit in the previous model. Making the Ghibli slightly more livable is a suite of active safety equipment that’s now available for 2017, including lane-departure assist and forward-collision warning. Optional adaptive cruise control is a nice crutch to have, in the rare occasion that the Autostrada is jammed. You don’t buy a Maserati because it has the ability to drive itself and keep you out of harm’s way. The best way to experience the Ghibli is to plant your right foot on the accelerator and not lift.
It’s an understatement to say that the 410-hp, twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 is a powerhouse. Built by Ferrari in Maranello, the engine burbles and pops and growls even at idle, with an impressive exhaust note to boot. The 8-speed automatic makes quick work of 0 to 60 in about four seconds, and you’re at triple-digit speeds before you know what’s really happened. Whether a twisty road appears or an hours-long journey awaits, the Ghibli presents a different way of making travel fun, comfortable, and enjoyable. A dull moment on a straight road is redeemed by dropping a couple of gears and listening to the revs soar.
One of its other strongest suits is the ability to take full advantage of Maserati’s personalization options for the interior, including the Luxury Zegna Package, which incorporates silken material from the Italian suit maker. Skeptical? So were we until we sat down and couldn’t stop running our hands over the woven fabric. Think of it less as silk, and more as the best kind of fabric cover for furniture. Order the Zegna interior package and your choice of silk covers everything from the headliner to the door panels — as well as beautifully styled seat inserts. The red-and-black Zegna color scheme is a treat for the eyes, as well as the bodies in the seats.
If you’re looking for something different than an Audi, BMW, or Mercedes-Benz, and still require seating for five and AWD, have a check ready for about 70 grand or so for a base Ghibli, or up to $100,000 for a fully loaded Ghibli S Q4 like the one shown here. Without exaggerating, the Ghibli makes almost every road feel like it’s a track. Just don’t get cocky and try to hit the top speed of 176 mph every time. You might run out of tarmac.
[410 HP, 0–60 in 4.8 seconds, $72,850; maseratiusa.com]