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Maserati Ghibli: Test Drive Review

Date: 25 July 2014   |   Author:

The new Maserati Ghibli includes an oil-burning engine

Maserati as a fleet proposition? It certainly raises more than a few eyebrows, but we have a new candidate for the prize of most glamorous brand that's actively operating in the business car arena.

Although not aiming at any serious volume, Maserati is targeting 40-50% fleet business for the 1000 Ghiblis it's looking to register this year, and the BMW 535d rival does move the Italian prestige brand into the top end of the executive segment.

Other competitors for the new saloon are stated as the Mercedes CLA, Jaguar XF and Audi A7, and the Ghibli diesel stacks up competitively against all of them at under £50,000 and 158g/km of CO2 for the auto-only model.

It's a striking car and looks a cut above its rivals, while on the inside the Ghibli feels like a higher-quality vehicle thanks to its sumptuous leather coating and comfortable seats. But it's not perfect: the touch-screen controls aren't the most intuitive, the steering wheel controls for the dashboard display are slow-witted, and the gearchange paddles mounted on the steering column actually obstruct the use of the indicator/headlamp stalk, which is a little too far back for comfort.

Shifting the gear lever into drive is too light a shift, and it would be nice if there was more resistance between functions across Drive, Neutral, Reverse and Park. It's also easy to knock out of Drive if the driver is lazy enough to be resting a hand on the gear lever rather than gripping the wheel.

On the move, the first couple of things to be noted are that the ride is really rather hard, even compared with a BMW 5-series, and the steering wheel is huge, which isn't exactly conducive with sporty driving characteristics. But the diesel is impressive for a solely developed effort, offering a good combination of refinement and pace, while the eight-speed auto shifts fluidly between ratios.

But it's whole-life costs where the Ghibli's business car success will be most judged, and there are some surprisingly positive noises in this area given Maserati's lack of corporate experience and presence. The residual values, according to KwikCarcost, are well ahead of any rival at three years and 60,000 miles, coming out at 39.0% when the next-best BMW 535d offers 34.5%, although insurance cost does count against it. SMR cost is also an issue, but Maserati is working to bring that down by offering its own servicing packages, available through dealer or leasing company, that cost significantly less than the prediction from KwikCarcost.

The Ghibli is a surprisingly well-rounded first volume effort from the Italian brand, and only the BMW 535d from its close rivals actually betters the Maserati for whole-life costs thanks to the Ghibli's impressive RVs. A surprise new contender, at least for those at the top of the business tree, has emerged.