Mention the word Maserati to anyone who loves cars and you will immediately have their attention.
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The name alone conjures up expectations of Italian passion, performance, a racing heritage, iconic style and the modern Maserati now has a strong foothold in the luxury market after an impressive comeback from near obscurity, thanks mainly to its cousins at Ferrari.
The Gran Turismo MC Stradale remains my favourite Maser’ because it is a full-blooded Italian stallion but it’s not much good if you have a family, need more space and four seats.
You could always go for the Quattroporte which is a very nice car but, for me, it is too big, too relaxed and not quite sporty enough.
Enter the Ghibli, a fabulous mid-size luxury four-door sedan which made an instant impact when the modern incarnation of a Maserati first seen in 1967 was introduced to the world in 2013.
This car is everything a prestigious executive sedan should be. It looks great, has an aggressive attitude, makes all the right noises, offers high-end luxury inside, is compact and when needed can go like the wind it is named after.
It’s as good as most of its German rivals in an extremely competitive market and now it is even better as it comes equipped with all-wheel-drive in the form of the Ghibli S Q4.
To look at this Ghibli is not different from its stablemates. It has powerful aesthetics, the signature Maserati concave front grille sporting the Trident logo, sleek side appearance and classy rear with twin exhausts, all adding up to a very sophisticated aura.
The interior is what you would expect from Maserati, with lashings of posh leather, polished metals, and carbon fibre trim. The instrument cluster is simply but classic and there is a very good infotainment system with 7-inch TFT screen.
Thankfully, the leather-wrapped steering wheel is not cluttered with switches but I am not particularly fond of the oval shape and, for me, it’s a bit too big. But, generally the interior is first class, spacious and extremely comfortable.
But the real genius of this Ghibli is the Q4 system itself which has been designed to maximise traction when road conditions get a little hazardous.
In normal driving conditions the system puts all the power down via the rear wheels, thus retaining the traditional Maserati transmission.
However, when things get a bit more testing and you might experience lower traction the system reacts instantaneously to provide more grip by bringing in all-wheel traction.
In just 150 milliseconds the Q4 system is capable of altering the torque split from 100 per cent rear wheels to 50-50 between front and back wheels and will retain AWD while conditions require maximum grip, only returning to RWD when things are back to regular.
This system is so sophisticated that it can monitor, in real time, such things as wheel slip, steering and yaw angle, power output, speed, braking action and work out how much grip is needed to suite the driving style of the person behind the wheel. Clever stuff.
All this, of course, is linked to the rather impressive 3-litre twin-turbo V6 engine built by Ferrari which powers this machine through an equally good eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox.
This new-generation engine is a real beauty with 410bhp and huge portions of torque at 550nm which means this car responds magnificently when you put pedal to metal, as you tend to do in a Maserati.
And in case you were wondering, yes, it does make a great noise as you push through the gears, going from 0-100kmh in 4.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 284kmh.
This car is at its best when being driven enthusiastically and handles extremely well thanks to its chassis and suspension systems and, of course, the Q4 technology.
It sticks to the road as if on rails and there is hardly any bodyroll at all when driven in sport mode which I recommend you use permanently.
For me, the Ghibli S Q4 ticks all the boxes when it comes to a high-end luxury saloon and because it is a Maserati it has an added air of distinctive superiority. And with a starting price of Dh329,000 you are getting a pretty good deal.
The Q4 system which is also available for the Quattroporte is pure genius and gives the Ghibli, already a hugely impressive piece of kit, even more appeal.
It is a pleasure to drive but I do find the size of the steering wheel irritating because it spoils what is otherwise a great interior.
However, in the general scheme of things it hardly matters in what is a highly desirable car.