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2014 Maserati Ghibli S Q4: Maserati for the masses

by: JOHN M. VINCENT - Yes, the Ghibli is a real Maserati for around $66,000,Maserati automobiles are legendary for their Italian lineage, powerful stance, melodious exhaust note, and visceral connection with the driver and the road. But think you can’t touch a new one for less than $100 grand? Think again.

You can now get a 2014 Maserati Ghibli — with a Ferrari-built engine under the hood — for a base price of $66,900. The new Maserati shares its nameplate with two previous models, the two-seat 1967 Ghibli Grand Touring car, and the 1992 Ghibli coupe.

Maserati is part of the Fiat group of manufacturers, which includes Chrysler. The common ownership is evident in the Ghibli, which shares many components with the rest of its global family. It seems to have picked up only the best from its cousins.

While the competition is increasingly buttoned-down, this Italian is downright effusive in its enthusiasm for the road. Base Ghiblis carry a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6, cranking out an eager 345-horsepower to the rear. The test car, on loan from Ron Tonkin Gran Turismo, was the all-wheel drive S Q4 model, with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo tuned to produce 404 horsepower and 406 ft-lbs. of torque.

by: JOHN M. VINCENT - The Ferrari-built twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 counds great pumping out 404 horsepower and 406 foot-pounds of torque.Built by Ferrari, the engines share some architecture and components with Chrysler’s Pentastar V-6. The S Q4 is capable of sprinting from 0 to 62 miles per hour in just 4.8 seconds. It utilizes gasoline direct injection and a pair of low-inertia turbochargers to help achieve the balance of impressive power with EPA estimated mileage of 15 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway (18 combined. That’s high enough to avoid any federal gas guzzler tax).

Ghiblis use a model of the ZF 8-speed automatic used in other Fiat family brands. The available steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters allow for wonderfully aggressive shifting, but they’re slightly cumbersome and block access to other column-mounted stalks.

The Ghibli features an array of driving modes including a Sport mode that recalibrates the throttle and transmission settings for crisper response. It opens up the exhaust, allowing its monumental tenor to be heard through four outlets.

In manual mode, drivers can aggressively control the 8-speed gearbox. The “ICE” mode is weather-related in most cars. In the Ghibli it refers to “increased control efficiency” and dampens throttle inputs for maximum efficiency.

Rear-wheel drive is standard on the base Ghibli model. The all-wheel drive S Q4 model is biased toward the rear wheels, powering the front only when necessary.

With a set-back cabin, long nose, and signature trident-bearing concave grill, the Ghibli showcases the company’s current design DNA. Bold front fenders lead to a low-profile cabin, then onto a short rear decklid. From the rear, the Ghibli is as understated as it is aggressive-looking from the front.

by: JOHN M. VINCENT - The interior of the Ghibli reveals its Chrysler connections, but that's no longer a bad thing.Not so long ago, it would have been heresy to compare the interior of a Maserati with a Chrysler sedan. Not anymore, as Chrysler designs and produces the best in the industry. Much of that world-class quality and technology has found its way into the Ghibli, including the UConnect information, navigation, and entertainment system. Maserati calls it “Maserati Touch Control,” but it uses the same 8.4-inch touchscreen and a similar software package.

Of course, the Maserati has a wider array of luxury quality interior materials to choose from, so you can create a more bespoke environment for driver and passengers.

Specifications:

Base Price: $66,900, S Q4 $76,900

Price as tested: $88,930, including $1,250 destination charge.

Type: 5-passenger, 4-door sedan (as tested)

Powertrain: 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6, 8-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive (as tested)

EPA estimated mileage: 15 city/25 highway

Final assembly: Modena, Italy