Accelerate

SA's premium automotive magazine

Maser’s 5 Series rival leaked

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It’s no secret that Maserati is keen to take on the likes of BMW’s 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz’s E-Class, and now we get to see the final version of the car that’s going to do it. Dubbed the Ghibli (it’s the first time since 1997 that Maserati has used the nameplate), the car was leaked onto the internet ahead of its official début at the Shanghai Motor Show.

The Ghibli is hugely important to Maserati, as it is one of the cornerstones of the Italian firm’s goal of selling 50 000 cars a year by 2015. It’s important for another reason, too, though: it’s the first time Maserati has ever built a car for the E segment, so it’s unfamiliar ground for the carmaker.

It’s based on a shortened version of the platform that will underpin the new Quattroporte, and it will be built in Grucliasco alongside that car. Also like the new Quattroporte, the Ghibli was built under the watchful eye of Lorenzo Ramaciotti, former head of design at Pininfarina and currently holding that position for the whole Fiat Group. Also involved in the design was Maserati’s design boss, Marco Tecone.

Unfortunately, no performance figures are available as yet, but a sportier package than the Quattroporte has been promised. What we do know is that it will be available with three engines, including the first diesel ever to power a Maserati. That mill will be three litres in displacement and V6 in architecture, while one engine will be available in two different states of tune. That’s the 3,0-litre V6, which will deliver 306 kW in the range-topper and 246 kW in the mid-range car. A petrol V8 is expected to join the line-up at a later date.

Each engine will be mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission from ZF, sending power to the rear wheels. There wheel be all-wheel-drive versions, but only for left-hand-drive markets.

Estimations are that the Ghibli could eventually make up half of all Maserati sales, but sales of 1 000 units for 2014 are anticipated. After the Ghibli, Maseratis attentions will turn to the Levante, an SUV expected to arrive in 2015.

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