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Car review: Maserati Ghibli S Q4

Car review: Maserati Ghibli S Q4

The Ghibli S Q4 wins over Damien Reid on the Mediterranean coast

The hills above Monaco are home to some of the world’s best driving roads. Narrow and not without their pitfalls, you need to be at your alert best, but they are incredibly rewarding when you get it right.

Behind the wheel of a twin-turbocharged, 430bhp V6 Maserati Ghibli on a crisp, cold, yet sunny winter’s morning, hunting down a warm espresso, I had settled into a nice stride with the car.

Cornering, apexing nicely, keeping the turbos on the boil, it was a rapid climb through the hills that, thanks to the lack of shrubbery from the trees awaiting their spring foliage, gave me a clear line of sight through most corners that wound their way around the mountains like strands of liquorice.

The Ghibli chassis was composed through the dips and troughs of the often uneven surface, and with the suspension set to sport mode – plus the fact we were punting the all-wheel drive S Q4 version – it reaffirmed my stance that this is the best handling car to currently bear the Maserati name.

When in sport mode the throttle response was quicker, the steering had more weight and its adaptive Skyhook suspension tightened up. Over rough surfaces it felt kart-like stiff but kept all wheels planted when I needed the traction.

It was a revelation that I discussed later at our coffee stop with 1987 Group N World Rally Champion Alex Fiorio, as if it were a full blooded sports car and not the four-door executive saloon sitting opposite us. And in that sense it wholeheartedly deserves its Maserati badge.

Probably the biggest difference from behind the wheel, especially under those mountainous conditions, was the electric power steering and Integrated Vehicle Control (IVC), which is Maserati-speak for a new stability control system.

Dumping hydraulic steering in favour of the electric unit allows Maserati to introduce driver assistance functions seen on many of its competitors like Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Active Blind Spot Assist (ABSA) and Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR).

The Ferrari-built, three-litre V6 used in the Ghibli S develops 580Nm of torque at 2250rpm and is good enough to get it to 100kmh in 4.7 seconds. But unlike its competitors such as the BMW 5-Series, Mercedes E-Class, Jaguar XF and Audi A6, it is not speed restricted, so can carry on under the right conditions to 286kmh.

In sport mode, it was best to crack a window and let the noise from that V6 pour through as it still thankfully sounded glorious on full-song. Not as seductive as the outgoing V8 used in the GranCoupe and GranCabrio, it still offered plenty to smile about when I buried the throttle.

For 2018, the Ghibli has been given a makeover that brings the brand’s badging into alignment by introducing the GranLusso and GranSport badges used on the coupes, Quattroporte and also recently adopted by the face-lifted Levante.

A new grille that was first shown on the Alfieri concept car at the Geneva auto show in 2014, and modified bumpers with revised cooling ducts and new LED headlights are the major visual changes made to the front.

While the GranLusso was all chrome and timber trim with the inclusion of Ermenegildo Zegna silk or leather upholstery, the GranSport was all about the piano black and carbon fibre look offset against contrasting leather.

Overall, the Ghibli remains the most emotive choice of the luxury four-door saloons when compared to its German rivals, with a glorious engine note, Zegna levels of interior opulence and stunning looks.

It comes at a price premium, with our test car hovering around Dhs373,748, but you should remember that you’re paying for exclusivity. Even though Maserati is on a massive ramp up of volume, it won’t match the heady numbers of the Germans. Meaning that, thankfully, the Ghibli remains the lusty, niche alternative in the executive saloon arena.

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