Maserati Ghibli launch- 1

Naza Italia officially launched the Maserati Ghibli in PJ this morning, after FB-teasing the car earlier in the week. The Ghibli, a player in the E-segment sports premium market (think high-end variants of the 5 Series and E-Class, not your garden variety 520i and E 200) is available here in two petrol variants – Ghibli and Ghibli S – priced at RM538,800 and RM628,800 respectively.

Joining the new Quattroporte, which we drove in Turin last year, the smaller and sportier Ghibli gives Maserati two four-door sedan models in one range for the first time in the marque’s 100-year history. The Ghibli will be a main pillar in Maserati’s lofty aim to sell 50,000 units a year by 2015. Going mainstream while maintaining the qualities the brand is known for is Maser’s gameplan.

There’s nothing entry-level about the entry-level Maserati’s performance. Powered by a new 3.0 litre twin-turbo direct-injection V6 engine (designed in-house and manufactured by Ferrari in Maranello) with 330 hp and 500 Nm, the base Ghibli sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in just 5.6 seconds. Row through the auto box’s eight ratios and you’ll reach an unrestricted top speed of 263 km/h.

Maserati Ghibli launch- 17

Speaking of the gearbox, the ZF AT8-HP70, as used in the QP, has five shift modes – Auto Normal (default mode, shifts smooth and early), Auto Sport (sharper and higher rpm shifting), Manual Normal (via shift paddles, system may intervene), Manual Sport (driver has full control, no intervention at redline) and the extreme weather/super eco I.C.E mode.

A more powerful version of the six-pot resides in the Ghibli S’ sloping hood. Like in the Quattroporte V6 S, it makes 410 hp and 550 Nm of torque, enough to propel the 1,810 kg Maser from 0 to 100 km/h in five seconds flat. The big wave of torque is available from just 1,750 rpm. Top speed is 285 km/h.

A 275hp/570Nm diesel (Maserati’s first ever oil burner), as well as an AWD Ghibli S Q4, make up the rest of the range, but those two variants will not be brought in. All Malaysia-bound RWD Ghiblis will have a Limited Slip Differential (LSD) on the rear axle. Weight distribution for this 4.97-metre sedan is 50:50.

Maserati Ghibli launch- 39

The cosy cabin includes an 8.4-inch Maserati Touch Control system which integrates all controls except for the A/C panel, allowing for a clean centre console.

The dashboard and seats are covered in Maserati’s usual Poltrona Frau leather and a 15-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system with 16-channel 1,280 watt amplifier is on the options list. The Ghibli S gets carbon interior trim instead of wood.

Don’t like what you see? It’s a Maserati, so there are plenty of customisation options. But whichever trim or rim you choose, you’ll be turning more heads than a BMW ActiveHybrid 5 or Mercedes-Benz E 400, for sure.