Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 23 August 2019

Road test: 2018 Maserati Ghibli GranLusso

We test the sports saloon for people who value silk accents and perky performance

The 2018 Maserati Ghibli GranLusso in Dubai. Courtesy Danni Bagnall
The 2018 Maserati Ghibli GranLusso in Dubai. Courtesy Danni Bagnall

When one thinks of a Maserati, the chances are words like “Italian”, “sounds good” and “sports car” spring to mind. Well, after test driving the new Ghibli GranLusso, the words “saloon” and “luxury” now sit firmly in the mix.

The Ghibli is the prestige sports-car brand’s global best-seller. The range features an entry model, the sport-focused (and logically titled) GranSport with piano-black inserts and a more-aggressive grille, and the epitome of luxury, the GranLusso, with more chrome.

Going up against the likes of the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Jaguar XF and Audi A6 – or the high-spec examples, at least – the first thing to point out is how much better it looks than the competition. The exterior has received a refresh for the current model year, as well as a number of on-board technological updates. There’s also a notable boost of power on S specification models – an increase of 20hp over its predecessor.

They’re subtle changes, but they’re certainly effective, bringing the model more in line with Maserati’s range, including the newest Levante SUV. The refresh also sees a first for Maserati in the introduction of electric power steering, helping to improve the car’s handling and comfort levels.

The GranLusso is distinguished from the rest of the range by its chrome front-bumper inserts, GranLusso badge to the base of the front wing, body-colour side skirts, black brake callipers and 19-inch alloy wheels, as well as a new grille that looks stolen from the Alfieri concept car, which gives the Ghibli a much wider face-on appearance.

Inside, there’s a high-spec Bowers & Wilkins stereo, open-pore wood trim and a wood-finished leather steering wheel, along with the unique-to-Maserati Ermenegildo Zegna mulberry silk interior accents to the seats, doors panels, roof lining and ceiling light fixture.

As before, the range has the same engine options as in the larger Quattroporte: two variants of the Ferrari-built 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6. I am driving the lower-powered 3.0-litre V6, producing a respectable 355hp and mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The power delivery is timely and smooth, with direct steering that gives plenty of feel, while on-road refinement is of a very high standard, with noise kept to a minimum within that luxurious cabin.

Both normal and sport modes can be selected with a button on the centre console – choosing sport will liven up the model’s throttle response while making the steering slightly heavier. The regular setting is perfect for luxury cruising.

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The ever-present sound is synonymous with what we know of Maserati, emitted from the range-standard quadruple chromium-plated exhaust pipes – even without selecting sport mode, the exhaust note is wonderful.

Elsewhere, parking sensors, an electrically lockable passenger glovebox and new soft-close doors all feature as standard.

The only real criticism I can think of is that the car is heavy and you do feel that when putting down the power, but it drives beautifully – it doesn’t waft around like some saloons. It’s a sure-fire looker, and if a luxury cruiser is what you’re looking for, then it’s hard to beat.

Yes, it’s costly in comparison to German rivals, but it looks special and it makes you feel special behind the wheel. And, really, where else are you going to get mulberry silk accents?

Updated: December 15, 2018 12:49 PM

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