I’m sure this Italian auto-maker is playing the long game. It is a patient mastermind crouching in the shadows, waiting literally years to win customers. The first Maserati I’ve ever laid eyes on was the BitTurbo 425i in the 1989 James Bond movie, License To Kill. It looked much, much cooler than the sardine-tin Datsun I rode to the cinema to watch the movie.
Think about it. It has more than 100 years’ history. It builds spirited, credible machines. Yet despite recent years of robust sales, it’s not breaking a sweat to win new fans.
Ferrari workshops a new ultra-limited edition almost yearly. Aston Martin, McLaren and Lamborghini are experts at cranking out dreamy editions and rare collaborations. This is the stuff that fills posters in little boys’ bedrooms.
Maserati’s 10-year-old GranTurismo hasn’t seen a significant successor, while its Levante SUV is still propping strong sales. Updates to the Quattroporte and Ghibli are the only things keeping the Modena-based marque in private club conversations.
The sports sedan Ghibli, named after the North African desert wind, has shifted 70,000 units worldwide since 2014, and it’s easy to see why. The coupé stance, frameless doors, and scalloped grille with the iconic Trident logo make for a sexy beast.
The 2018 edition comes with some welcome upgrades. There are fresh LED headlights, sportier bumpers, and roughly 25 more horsepower. The entertainment system now integrates with Apple Airplay, which means your iPhone screen can be mirrored on the car’s touchscreen display.
This means you can actually impress millennials with your ’90s Dad-rock’ playlist. Raaawk on! To achieve the clean dashboard, all the info-features have been cattled into the system’s sub-folders.
The Ghibli is available in two trims: the GranLusso and GranSport. The former focuses on luxury stylings with an interior that features Ermenegildo Silk upholstery. The latter is a performance-driven sedan with more aggressive design cues. Only the GranSport is available in Singapore.
The Ghibli’s driving position is snug and comfortable, which is a bonus for long trips. A couple of gripes though; the gearbox is a tricky affair. Selecting ‘Park’ doesn’t always put you in ‘Park’, because it’s easy to slip into ‘Reverse’. You really need to muscle that stick into ‘Park’.
There is palpable roll when swooping around bends. It’s not quite the bolted-down, air-tight handling experience I was hoping it’ll be. Why isn’t this turbocharged, 3-litre V6 Italian hooking the road harder? You almost crave for more feedback from the wheels.
The car does much better on a straight expressway though; it truly launches when you tap on the pedal. Maserati’s engineers have put the engine behind the front wheels for that reason. A stellar suspension system also makes this 1800kg ride float over uneven surfaces.
Nose-to-tail, the car is almost 5m in length — comparable to the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6 and the Jaguar XF. Such a profile can test you in old car parks where the lots were built for cars the size of shopping carts.
Which explains why there’s a hyper-sensitive crash-sensor on-board. The tiniest motion sets it off, even though there isn’t a bumper, pillar or stroller-pushing granny nearby. Be warned: The beeps can get annoying when you’re navigating tight corners.
Driving wise, the car is a breeze to move. I haven’t experienced a more comfortable sports sedan. Thanks to a new electronic power steering, the wheel is light and precise. It’s perfect for city errands, and creating moods for Instagram stories.
From an emotional and financial standpoint, this is probably the most accessible Maserati. There is discipline in its design, it’s assured and extremely roadworthy. It’s hard to argue with a handsome Italian with more than 350 Italian ponies for pull. How’s that for the long, social game?