Maserati Ghibli S

We generally refrain from analysing any test vehicle's visual appeal, as design is a very subjective matter, but with the Maserati Ghibli S we are forced to highlight a number of attributes - after all, design will be a major driving force in any potential Maserati buyer's purchasing decision. Our test Ghibli S test unit looked particularly dark and sinister with its Nero (black) paintwork, large anthracite coloured alloy wheels and red brake calipers. We highlight these items because without them, the Ghibli S can be regarded quite a cautious design, devoid of overt aggression or quirks. Sure, Maserati anoraks may point to the large concave grille's links to the past (particularly the A6GCS Berlinetta) and the trademark portholes on its flanks behind the front wheelarches, but it is clear that Maserati took purposely restrained route for the Ghibli. This gives potential buyers the option of specifying their Ghibli as required. Want to fly under cover? Then opt for different wheels, subtler paint jobs etc. On the other hand, if you want to be noticed, then tick a few more boxes... Our test car swivelled many a head!

The Ghibli S is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 with quite an interesting pedigree. It was designed by Maserati, but is put together by Ferrari, using a block built by Chrysler in America. It delivers 301 kW and 550 Nm of torque, the latter figure being on tap all the way from 1 750 to 5 000 rpm, which promises great in-gear flexibility. Power goes to the rear wheels via a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. As is to be expected, manual gearshifts can be executed via paddles positioned behind the steering wheel. The Ghibli is quite a heavy vehicle, which is partly the reason why the 0-100 kph time of 5.0 seconds seems relatively mediocre compared with the vehicles positioned at a similar price level. But seeing as this brand doesn't feel the need to comply with the Germans' "gentlemen's agreement" to restrict top speeds to 250 kph, the Ghibli runs unrestricted all the way to 285 kph.But claimed figures are only a fraction of the story. Several driving modes are offered, with the oddly named I.C.E. (Increased Control & Efficiency) not being particularly effective in improving the fuel thirst (the claimed fuel consumption figure of 8.9 L/100km is laughable). There is, however, also a Sport mode, and when this is activated the true Italian sportscar soul of the Ghibli ignites. In Sport mode the exhaust valves are permanently open, emitting a beautiful and intoxicating roar, while there also lovely blips when downshifting through the 'box manually. Driven like this, the Ghibli is hugely rewarding and quite different in character to even its more overtly powerful rivals.

The Maserati Ghibli S costs R1 622 000 without options and a 3-years/unlimited km warranty is standard. The local distributors EAI also add a 3-years/60 000 km service package.

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