It's been a minute since we've driven the Maserati Ghibli (our first drive was way back in 2013), the twin-turbocharged, V6-powered smaller sedan from the legendary Italian outfit. In the last couple years, rumors have swirled that the Ghibli would donate its platform to the Dodge Charger and its Challenger and 300 siblings. So, in a sense, our time in Southern California in the 2019 Maserati Ghibli GranLusso S was both a preview of FCA's shared rear-drive sedan future as well as a check-in about how the Ghibli is maturing in general. Not that the Ghibli hasn't evolved in the six years since it went on sale. For 2018, Maserati moved to an electrically-assisted steering rack, mostly to enable driver assistance systems with steering intervention. The V6's output has been bumped in the S, to 424 horsepower. The headlights and grille have been updated, too, to compliment the newer and more aggressive Levante. In Los Angeles, at least, the Ghibli doesn't stand out – the town is lousy with Ghiblis, Levantes, and Quattroportes. Good for Maserati, I suppose, but bad for exclusivity. Nor does the car pop in photos like it does in person. My tester was a metallic, creamy white, which is flat and dull in photos or from far away. That's a shame, because this car has phenomenal contouring. From behind the wheel, the driver's side fender porpoises above the shapely hood. Walking along the side, the curvature of the rear fender where it meets the deep tumblehome of the C-pillar is delightful. Everybody stares at an exotic, but the owner of a Ghibli should feel special contemplating their sheetmetal. This sense of specialness dissolves inside. There are Maserati tridents everywhere, presumably to help you remember that you're looking at the expensive Italian sports sedan you just purchased rather than a riot of low-rent, Chrysler-derived bits. The steering wheel buttons feel cheap and wobbly, the too-shiny center console finish seems synthetic, the prominent lighting and engine start/stop controls to the left of the steering wheel are ensconsed in a dull plastic surround. Some of the aesthetic choices – subjective, yes – are confounding. Take the textile inserts on the seats and door cards. I love the fact that interior designers are playing with textiles, which can be used to great effect. And the pitch here is compelling: an apparently famous Italian designer (Ermenegildo Zegna) used a fancy fabric (mulberry silk) with special weaves and textures. But if you expected them to feel luxurious or look tasteful, you might be disappointed. The seat inserts are busy and rough, and the door cards look and feel surprisingly cheap. For a trim that starts at $85,000, I want materials that feel premium at all the places I'm going to touch, regardless of the designer's name or ambition. Thankfully, several more tasteful full-leather seat coverings are optional on other trims – and I'd be very interested to check out the quilted "Pieno Fiore" leather available on the S GranSport trim. On that …
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|MPG||17 City / 24 Hwy|
|Transmission||8-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||345 @ 5750 rpm|
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