Tripling your annual production is simple if you’re only making one or two cars a year. But when you’re talking about a number running into five figures, things get complicated.
Currently Maserati has two model lines, a saloon and a coupé/convertible. In order to reach its target of 50,000 annual sales and more, the famed Trident from Maranello will need all the help it can get from Fiat and Ferrari in order to stretch that product portfolio to five model lines: new Quattroporte, Gran Turismo and Gran Cabrio line, a sportscar to slot in beneath that, an SUV as conceptualised in the Kubang we saw two years ago at the Frankfurt show, and this, the new baby Quattroporte.
Straight away there is a problem. Maserati is calling its entry-level family saloon, to be officially unveiled at the Shanghai motor show, the Ghibli. As in Ghibli, the two-door sportscar line that made it through two generations and a total of 13 years in production.
It’s almost as sacrilegious as a BMW M3 suddenly turning into a saloon-only body style. Oh, hang on a minute… Anyway, the original 1973 Ghibli epitomised everything that’s wonderful about Italian sportscars, with its Giorgetto Giugiaro styling and V8 engine up front.
The second-generation Ghibli coupé appeared two decades later in 1992, based heavily on Pierangelo Andreani’s Eighties’ Biturbo design, itself influenced
So Maranello, continuing its bonkers recent naming strategy, could’ve come up with plenty of other monikers for the new baby Maser without desecrating the graves of its glorious models past — Maserati LaMaserati comes to mind. Or taking another page out of Enzo’s book; Maserati Alfieri...
Other more serious tags also make sense such as Maserati Berlina (that means saloon) or the Maserati Infinito (come on, doesn’t it look like an Infiniti?) Maserati Economico (it’ll be cheap), Maserati Picollo (it’s small-ish)… [Ed: OK, that’s enough Google Translate.] But we’ll all just have to get used to Ghibli, which is at least still somewhat evocative and sticks to company tradition in that it’s actually the name of a wind.
Maserati has long had a custom of labelling its creations after winds, such as Bora, Karif, Khamsin and Mistral. In fact, Ghibli should go down well in the Middle East since it is the Arabic word for a Saharan hot wind. But that doesn’t mean the car itself is a load of hot air.
This baby Maserati is a proper executive saloon targeting rivals like the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Jaguar XF and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. It’s touted to be even sportier than the Quattroporte, which is already one of the sportiest large executive saloons on the market.
Maserati will initially make the Ghibli available with a choice of two turbocharged engines, one diesel and one petrol. The 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 that concerns us is the same as the one in the new Quattroporte, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission to deliver power to either the rear axle or all four corners.
In the flagship saloon this V6 is worth 410bhp and 550Nm, good enough for 0-100kph in 4.9 seconds and a top end of 285kph. Hmm, OK, if that’s the case with the Ghibli, they can call it whatever they want…
Giorgetto Giugiaro is normally associated with ItalDesign, but when he designed the beautiful, low, sleek, original Ghibli he worked for Ghia. The Ferrari sportscar rival came in coupé or roadster form with a 335bhp V8 engine.
The Biturbo is the black sheep of Maserati’s history, with notoriously poor reliability and shoddy build quality. The second-generation Ghibli was based on it, powered by a twin-turbo V6, with less than 2,500 models produced in total.