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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello all, thought I would add my thoughts following a test drive yesterday…hopefully someone may find this useful.

Background:

After spending an exhausting amount of time researching the Maserati Ghibli and the competition, going to the launch party and seeing it in person and test driving a Mercedes CLS550 and E550, Audi S6, BMW 640/650 and 550, I finally had a chance to test drive the Ghibli SQ4.

This was a fairly well equipped car with extended leather, premium leather, premium sound, nav, and premium package; sticker was $84K (I'm in the US). It did NOT have the sports suspension or Skyhook and had the 18" wheels. White car with tan leather.

First Impressions:

The design of the car is much more appealing in person then in pictures. It is a much bigger car then I expected in person and until you park it next to a Granturismo or in my case my Mercedes E you don't realize it. The back 3/4 panel leading to the trunk is a bit awkward, but other then that the car is beautiful…nothing really like it and what I appreciate most, is it is a bit understated and doesn't scream "hey look at me" like some other cars…cough cough Lambo.

The Premium leather in the Ghibli is 2nd to none. The leather on this car is better then any of the German offerings, even the beautiful premium leather in a BMW 640/650. It is very soft and smooth to the touch, smells wonderful, and feels great on your bum. However, my concern is the premium leather might be a bit delicate for day to day use and over time. This leather needs to be taken care of, meaning cleaning regularly and using conditioner. Because it is so soft, it may tear if abused or something sharper gets caught on it. Another Ghibli had standard leather and that is similar to the leather (not the fake stuff) used in Mercedes, BMW and Audi so it is fine. I would absolutely get the extended leather package regardless of whether you go with standard or premium leather…it helps dress up some of the "not so premium" parts of the interior I'll mention below.

They had a car with the paddle shifters in the showroom, sport package. The 19" Proteo wheels on this car looked WAY better then the 18". The 18" wheels are horrible…DO NOT GET THEM. They also had a car with 20" wheels and they are even better yet. The 21" wheels are too big for this car IMO. 20" are the way to go but 19" aren't bad. The paddles in this car are THE best paddles I've seen. I compared this to the Maser GT and Ferrari paddles (also a Ferrari dealer) in the showroom and sales guy is right, these are the best paddles in the business…they are titanium and even better then the Granturismo…yes strange but true. They are BIG paddles and may get in the way of the turn signal and windshield wiper "stalk" at first but I'm sure I would get used to them; they are THAT nice that I wouldn't want a car without them….this is basically a Maser GT performer in a 4 door. Speaking of which, the car is literally as big as the GT…much bigger outside dimensions and WIDER for a typical 4 door.

The gauges on the dash are beautifully laid out and aesthetically pleasing. Some of the switchgear IS Chrysler, but it doesn't look out of place or of less quality in a car at this price…same switchgear used in the Quattraporte. However, there are some corners cut in quality interior-wise from the Quattraporte such as the door jam kick plates are plastic…looks out of place for an $80K car. The standard wood grain which is a bit textured and matte finished looks good but feels cheap and plastic like…these are the "open pore" wood trims as Maserati calls them. The glovebox is light and cheap feeling and inside is quite cheap. Inside of the arm rest and cup holders is also cheap…very light plastic covered in felt. However, these are MINOR things IMO overall. They are not that noticeable unless you are examining them. I for one would expect a bit more substance with a car in this price range, but for the tradeoff, Maserati puts the money into that engine and drive as I'll discuss below.

The navigation system is a repurposed Chrysler nav system for Maserati. IT IS NOT, cutting edge technology. It is easy to use and very serviceable and typical of one you would find in a Jeep or Chrysler…no frills. However, Mercedes, Audi and BMW all have better Nav systems for the same class of car.

The backseats...the BIG question mark and comment everyone is making...are smaller, but I have a Mercedes E class today and the leg room is VERY similar. I'm 5'10" and when the drivers seat was adjusted for me, the backseat was just fine. If you are a bigger guy/gal with longer legs, the backseat rear legroom might be a bit cramped. I also have a 3 series and the backseat legroom IS bigger in the Ghibli then the 3 series…I don't agree with what some people have said saying they are similar. Now; there is a low roof line and small rear door so it is a bit of a twist to get into the backseat similar to the 3 series, but once you are inside, the backseat is very similar to a Mercedes E class. No complaints for a quick ride, but i wouldn't want to be an adult sitting in that seat for more then an hour. The front seats on the other hand are wonderful. Very supportive and comfortable...I could drive for hours no problem.

Driving Impressions:

This is THE reason to buy a Ghibli PERIOD. If the driving experience is not one of or THE top deciding factors…get the German competitive offerings because for the most part, the Ghibli falls short of what the Germans offer outside of the driving experience…design being subjective.

Fire up the engine, press the sport button and the exhaust opens up to a symphony of music. Really sounds amazing for a V6 and better then most V8 engines aside from the Granturismo, McLaren, Lambo, some Mercedes AMGs, Ferrari's and Astons. Outside of that exclusive list, you would be hard pressed to find a better sounding car.

The gear shifter is an 8-speed ZF transmission which have become known in the industry for the best or one of the best transmissions. Yes, the gear selector takes a brief moment to get used to, but is just fine once you understand how to use it…this DOES NOT mean the transmission is odd, it is simply the gear selector. I hear this is the gear selector that will be used on the newer chrysler and jeep models. That doesn't matter to me personally, but I understand how someone would be bothered that a car 1/2 the price has the same gear selector, an obvious component of the interior.

Driving the car, it is smooth and composed when not pushed. You absolutely FEEL THE ROAD, but it is by no means a harsh ride like a BMW 3 series. There is a very distinct difference, for those of us who know cars well, between a harsh ride and a car that feels the road; the Ghibli feels the road. There is absolutely excellent feedback in the steering wheel, much better then any of the German cars even better then most of the new Porsches (which to me have disconnected the driver to the road a bit with the new electronic steering). The steering is not as tight as a BMW, but not as loose as a Mercedes. I personally can not stand how tight some of BMW's models steer…often people IMO misinterpret this as being "sporty", IMO it is just tight steering. That's the German's way of making a sporting feel but most often they do this in conjunction with a harsh ride and call it a sports car while really, they miss the mark with little true steering feel and feedback, making the car numb IMO. Yes, I know a lot will argue with me, but to be clear…a tighter steering car with a harsher ride does not necessarily translate to what drivers consider a good feeling car with great feedback. This is a hard thing to describe in writing but coming from someone who has raced cars, Maserati has nailed the approach with the right mix and the best feel.

I've read a couple reviews that say the car/exhaust is too loud even when not in sport mode and I would strongly disagree. This IS a DRIVERS car...I'm not looking for an absolutely quiet ride…get a Mercedes if that's what you want. When not in sport mode, you do hear a slight hum from the engine sound, but it's by no means intrusive. When you push the sport button, the baffles on the exhaust open up and the trumpets of God sound! lol I was a bit disappointed the cabin is as much isolated as it is because I wanted to hear more of it! The people next to you on the street get more of the benefit. Crack the sunroof and your window! :) When you manually shift, the sound is even better with beautiful sounds of engine blips as you shift gears. Does it sound as good as a Granturismo V8 (IMO best sounding car in the world), not quite, but very close!

When pushed, the Ghibli takes on a new personality and turns a tame lion into a roaring one. I don't recall ever driving a sedan that feels as good when pushed, including all the Germans. Is the CLS550, E550, 550i, 650i, S6 all faster, yes arguably a bit faster, but NONE of the Germans provide this level of feedback and feel this good doing it. 0-60 times for the Germans are 3.7 (Audi S6) to 4.5 (Merc E550 or BMW 550i). The Ghibli is rated at 4.7 or even 5.0 but I'm betting it is closer to 4.5 or even 4.3. It is without a doubt, quicker then a Granturismo 0-60 which is rated at 4.7. Steering is absolutely dead-on when pushed with great feedback, the Germans are numb in comparison. There is some front corner wheel dip coming into the turn, but according to the Maserati sales guys, with sport suspension and bigger wheels (this was a 18" wheel and no sport suspension), it will eliminate much of it; however the everyday ride will stiffen a bit. Body roll in general is minimal but a bit more then a BMW 650 with sport suspension. Skyhook is not as dynamic as the sport suspension I was told and really softens the ride for those that feel the ride is too harsh but does little to stiffen the ride or make it more sporty. For me, not interested in softening the ride and only want to stiffen the ride when pushed..Sports Suspension it is for me.

Turbo lag…yes, there is some turbo lag and this is what other reviews are, in part, describing as not immediate power when pressing the accelerator pedal or having a fair amount of pedal travel till the engine really engages. IMO it is a bit of both throttle response and turbo lag due to mapping. You do need to "mash" the pedal a little more then some cars. The pedal travel is a non-issue for me but may take a little getting used to depending on what car you currently drive; IMO, a Mercedes is really no different. The Turbo lag is he only downside I see in the drive of the Ghibli. There is fair amount of it in non-sport mode. My BMW 335 has the same issue and I have always found this to be irritating. IF you put the Ghibli in sport-mode, it cuts the amount of lag in 1/2 and becomes much better. IF you set it in manual mode and shift using the gear lever or pedals, it becomes almost nonexistent and the power is right there on demand, this will also change the amount of pedal travel too. I drive my cars in sport mode 80% of the time and use the paddles 70% of the time today. In the Ghibli, given it's amazing feel, I won't be surprised if I'm in sport mode using paddles 90% of the time.

This is also a fairly big car. Don't let it's proportions fool you, it's actually longer and wider then a CLS550. For such a big car, it is amazing how great it feels. Will it feel as nimble as a BMW 3 series, no but you can't expect that…it does in general FEEL way better then a 3 series though and is way more dynamic then anything BMW, Mercedes, Audi and arguably Porsche puts out as to me, even the best of them feel a bit numb.

Conclusion:

Can't reiterate enough, this is a DRIVERS car and it's all about the drive. If you just want a fast car that is quiet, compliant and loaded with tech, get a german car. If you want the most dynamic car in the class, a car that will talk back to you when you push it, and you really don't care about the latest technology conveniences, the Ghibli is a wonderful choice. THIS IS NOT a car for the soccer Mom or the guy trying to make a statement…they will be disappointed. This is not the car for someone who doesn't understand the dynamics of what makes a good performance car. This is not a car to be a boulevard cruiser. This is a car built on feel and passion and if you don't understand this and love it after you drive it, it's not the car for you…nameplate aside.

My wife, who like me was considering all the above cars to replace hers, decided on the CLS550. She wanted to love the Ghibli because it's MASERATI an exclusive and beautiful car, but after sitting in it and driving it she said, "it's OKAY". Point in case, she is NOT a driver, she doesn't get it. She however, understands why I love it, but it's not for her. The CLS550 is perfect for her.

After owning Audis, Mercedes, BMWs, Porsches, and experience racing CART, Indy, Skip Barber, I finally found a practical, 4 door, AWD, daily driver that blends everything together into a package I can fall in love with; my affair is beginning and yes, the wife is already jealous! :) My order is getting placed next week and making final decisions on options, but at this point it will be Blu Passione, two-tone black and tan (Sabbia) interior with high gloss wood trim, Sports Package, Premium Pack, Extended Premium Leather, and 20" wheels and Premium Sound. Prepaid maintenance is $1700 and only saves you about $300 in regular maintenance up to 4 years/50,000 so not sure if I'll do this as the price so far has approached $87K for the Ghibli given the options…yikes! Needless to say, I'm absolutely excited. I'm told I won't get it until early February which stinks, but it's worth the wait!

Cheers to joining the club! :)
 

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I love this write up, read every bit of it. If you don't mind, a long term review would be sweet as our experience behind the wheel of a new car changes as time goes on, whether it be problems, newly discovered things, etc.

Anything else to make it more of a drivers car?
 

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Outstanding review and if I could ever love a car more than my BMW 540i which was that best car I ever owned. I never tired of downshifting and accelerating on the highway or accelerating through a turn on a twisty road. Of course I do not have the racing experience you do but I loved driving my 540. it sounds like the Ghibli will fit the bill for me. I am about to order and will probably get every option (skyhook not sports suspension) except the headliner and glazing...............I can't take it with me and lousy residuals be dammed. Thanks again for your review..........
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you and glad you enjoyed the review. Feel free to ask any questions and of course I will be happy to provide an update 6 months from now when I've had enough time to evaluate the Ghibli long-term.
 

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Thank you and glad you enjoyed the review. Feel free to ask any questions and of course I will be happy to provide an update 6 months from now when I've had enough time to evaluate the Ghibli long-term.
Thanks a lot for your help.
Looking forward to that long-term update, that will be the true test for most to read since at that point it's well broken in and driven enough to show any early issues.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'm sorry, I didn't notice it against the RPMs. The behavior of the turbo lag is very different in normal mode, sport mode and then in manual sport mode. In manual sport mode it is almost entirely not noticeable. In sport mode it is much like the 335/535 BMW motors…noticeable but not disturbing. In normal mode it is very noticeable but tolerable. I tend to drive in manual mode and in that mode the power is very direct.
 

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@anderson
Great review! It reflects my thoughts after a drive this weekend. Only thing I can think to add is the exhaust note reminded me of an E Type Jag and the weighted steering is a huge plus compared to its German rivals.

Im glad that you made it clear the DRIVE is what will distinguish/sell this car. Im tired of hearing people compare the Ghibli to their 5 Series or E Class.
 

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oh and I almost forgot how amazed I was after downshifting under deceleration and the exhaust burbled like an E-Type too! Ugghh it was like music!! Wont expect the E350 owner to understand that one
 

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Can anyone comment on road noise from the Pirelli tires over that of the Continental tires offered on the Ghibli, especially on grooved concrete road services ?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I did not notice road noise but I also live in Chicago where the roads are tar not concrete like in the west coast, so I'm not the right person to ask. With that said, I'm not a fan of Pirelli tires in general as Continentals and Michelin tires have been my choice for years.
 

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This is because what OP is describing is not turbo lag. Its throttle response. There are different throttle maps for different modes of the car (sport/standard). I honestly don't think this engine has ANY turbo lag. It would be surprising to me if it did, since most modern twin turbo engines from BMW/Merc/Audi have virtually eliminated it by using sophisticated software/smaller/bigger turbo combinations etc. I really think the "turbo lag/throttle response" issue is just something they had to do for fuel economy - again I wouldn't be surprised is a tuner completely eliminated it with custom software down the road.
 

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This is because what OP is describing is not turbo lag. Its throttle response.
Exactly.

My guess is most people complaining about the "turbo lag" regarding the Ghibli haven't driven a modern high performance automobile. Indeed, throttle response in "comfort" mode and the like is controlled with software to smooth over your foot's input. Of course this is purely an effort to meet fuel efficiency criteria. The bottom line: if you don't want miraculous fuel economy from your hyper-performing rocket engine, select Sport mode (and don't whine about bad gas mileage). You can't have your gas and burn it too.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
This is because what OP is describing is not turbo lag. Its throttle response. There are different throttle maps for different modes of the car (sport/standard). I honestly don't think this engine has ANY turbo lag. It would be surprising to me if it did, since most modern twin turbo engines from BMW/Merc/Audi have virtually eliminated it by using sophisticated software/smaller/bigger turbo combinations etc. I really think the "turbo lag/throttle response" issue is just something they had to do for fuel economy - again I wouldn't be surprised is a tuner completely eliminated it with custom software down the road.
It is both turbo lag and throttle response, but you are 90% right it has to do with the mapping mostly. There is still a slight lag, barely noticeable, in Sport Manual mode. This is the same issues a lot of BMWs and Mercs have (Audi I don't know) but I have the BMW and Merc in my garage now and the BMW 35i engine with dual turbos is more noticeable. Turbos take a split second to wind up, it is almost virtually impossible to completely eliminate turbo lag in a turbo engine. Through the use of software/smaller and dual turbos, manufacturers can indeed eliminate most of it but not entirely.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Exactly.

My guess is most people complaining about the "turbo lag" regarding the Ghibli haven't driven a modern high performance automobile. Indeed, throttle response in "comfort" mode and the like is controlled with software to smooth over your foot's input. Of course this is purely an effort to meet fuel efficiency criteria. The bottom line: if you don't want miraculous fuel economy from your hyper-performing rocket engine, select Sport mode (and don't whine about bad gas mileage). You can't have your gas and burn it too.
It's a combination of turbo lag and throttle response as noted in my above post. You can not entirely eliminate turbo lag on a turbo engine. I have two turbo engines today and they suffer from the same thing. I agree it's primarily mapping in the different modes in the Ghibli and the mapping in standard mode is poor, but turbo lag exists. Engineering wise, it has to as the turbo has to spool.
 

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It is both turbo lag and throttle response, but you are 90% right it has to do with the mapping mostly. There is still a slight lag, barely noticeable, in Sport Manual mode. This is the same issues a lot of BMWs and Mercs have (Audi I don't know) but I have the BMW and Merc in my garage now and the BMW 35i engine with dual turbos is more noticeable. Turbos take a split second to wind up, it is almost virtually impossible to completely eliminate turbo lag in a turbo engine. Through the use of software/smaller and dual turbos, manufacturers can indeed eliminate most of it but not entirely.
There are many examples of cars that have eliminated the turbo lag to the point where it's no longer distinguishable. One great example of that is the VTG turbo's on the 997.1 TT introduced in 2007, as well as many others. I don't argue that the 3 series might have it, I haven't personally driven it.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
There are many examples of cars that have eliminated the turbo lag to the point where it's no longer distinguishable. One great example of that is the VTG turbo's on the 997.1 TT introduced in 2007, as well as many others. I don't argue that the 3 series might have it, I haven't personally driven it.
I have driven tons of turbo cars…every single one of them has turbo lag, even if for a millisecond. There is no way to completely eliminate it. The turbo, either single or dual, has to spin up. Manufacturers are using smaller turbos to reduce turbo lag, but it's always there. Whether you feel it or not is one thing, but scientifically it is there. In the Ghibli it is noticeable even in manual sport mode, but barely so it does not impact it like BMWs today.
 
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