There are some things in this world that cannot truly be captured in words or photographs: an African safari alongside a lion pride, cage diving among Great Whites, a test drive in a Maserati. After visiting Maserati of Raleigh, we certainly enjoyed the first-hand experience of getting behind the wheel of the new Ghibli. Yes, the same Ghibli debuted in the Super Bowl XLVIII advertisement. As diligent as we may be in writing the best possible post, it will still likely fall short of capturing the excitement of nestling into the driver’s seat.
Our test drive was not only fun, it was educational. We learned that there are sporty cars … and then there are sports cars.
Walking toward the 2014 Maserati Ghibli S Q4 is quite intimidating. It is, however, not a fearful intimidation; rather, the feeling is spawned from the overwhelming sense that you’ll exercise no restraint behind the wheel. From the curvaceous frame to the custom-colored calipers, there are so many facets that make this finely-tuned Italian machine unique. In fact, a particular point of emphasis regarding Maserati is that no two models are exactly alike since each is crafted by hand.
Without a doubt, the most striking characteristic of the Ghibli is its visceral growl – merely starting the car is fun, and it takes a lot of control to not continuously pump the accelerator. The revving sound sends chills down that naturally snake their way to your feet and hands, and it effortlessly draws eyes from the road for a captive audience.
The interior is incredibly dynamic. An appealing rich brown leather covers the seats, as well as portions of the dash and arms rests on the doors, and contrasts with the solid black color that overlays the remainder of the inside. Chrome accents distinguish the color scheme, and a gorgeous wood grain is subtly worked into the doors and center console, adding a bit more of elegance to the very athletic look of the cabin.
A large LCD touch-screen in the center of the dash displays navigation and other options with unprecedented brilliance. The meter cluster behind the steering wheel has illuminated markers that complement the digital screen installed between the dials (speedometer and odometer). This particular screen shows the car’s diagnostics, including the Q4 system’s torque distribution. All of these features and options serve to demonstrate that Maserati is more than just a standard sports car.
Between the driver and front passenger is an exceedingly deep center console, with extra cup holders, that could very likely store a small purse – we can’t substantiate that claim as everyone was sans purse. Also inside the console were iPod-integration and auxiliary outlets for transferring media to the dash display.
One of the most indicative features of the Ghibli that hints at its powerful nature is the seat design. The plush leather is angled and bulked at precise measurements. This gives a secure sensation, almost as if the seat grips you, without feeling restrictive or compromising on comfort.
Care if we put the car in gear?
The shifter is unique and is reminiscent of fighter jet triggers you see in the movies. You place your hand on the rounded shifter, place your index finger on a small button (or “trigger”), press it in, and pull it to a designated point for the gear. When you release it, the shifter returns to its initial position.
Now is the moment that changes everything you ever imagined an automobile could feel like. The 2014 Maserati Ghibli S Q4’s 3.0-liter V6 turbocharged engine, which cranks out 345 horsepower and 369 ft-lb of torque, has virtually unparalleled acceleration (wait until our blog about the Maserati GT in the coming days). Despite its sport design, extraneous sounds are almost naught from inside the cabin. That leaves only the hefty roar of the engine to enjoy.
This car is the epitome of muscular luxury.
While driving the car, you have two driving modes and two methods of driving them. There is the Sport Mode, which provides a much stronger exhaust note and changes the dynamics of handling (e.g. tighter suspension). When Sport Mode is deselected, the wheel is easier to turn and the engine’s sounds are a bit more subdued – though still present. Your methods of driving include traditional automatic transmission or manual gear shifting using the paddles at the rear of the steering wheel. Most convenient, the car will alert you when it is time to shift gears and, if needed, automatically changes gears with seamless efficiency.
The car feels solid through corners, while accelerating, and coming to a sudden halt. It is the result of a perfect marriage between strength and performance; power and grace. You can dance among the lanes with supreme confidence of the car’s secure grip on the road. Its uncanny acceleration, of which we employed in a law abiding manner, has the potential to sate any need for speed.
Returning the car to the dealership proved most difficult. Some of us on the content team have owned or driven other luxury and sport brands, but we knew that this day changed our perception of the driving experience. The road would not beckon quite the same way again.
We want to thank Maserati of Raleigh for the opportunity to enjoy their superior product. In particular, our team appreciates the efforts of James Simpson, one of the dealership’s considerate and knowledgeable brand ambassadors. His enthusiasm and understanding of the product went far beyond the showroom floor. It’s not merely the test drive that makes the experience worthwhile, it’s also the people.