Cape Town - Maserati has launched one of its most important models yet in South Africa - the Ghibli.
The new luxury sedan is sold alongside the automaker's flagship Quattroporte and forms part of a major expansion plan for the new Fiat Chrysler empire.
The Ghibli is tipped as a "more accessible Maserati" and the luxury automaker gave us the opportunity to drive one.
Driven - Maserati Ghibli S in SA
Wheels24 drove the new luxury sedan in Cape Town.
Here are 10 things you should know about the new Ghibli in SA:
1. It can be powered by a either a petrol or turbo-diesel V6
There are three versions: a 3.0-litre, 203kW V6 turbodiesel, and single and twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 cars, with 243kW and 302kW respectively. The S-badged unit we drove sported a petrol V6 capable of 302kW/550Nm mated to a eight-speed ZF auto gearbox.
It's capable of reaching 0-100km/h in 5.0 seconds and has a top speed of 285km/h.
The rear-wheel-drive sedan boasts a balanced 50:50 front to rear-weight distribution, and sports a limited-slip differential and five-bar multi-link rear suspension.
2. It's a stunner!
In short, the Ghibli is beautiful to look at with simple yet sophisticated lines and curves. It has an assertive front with a large grille, huge vents and venders.
Along its flanks it shows elegance with long sweeping lines ending with the rounded off rear.
3. It has a weird name
The Ghibli (pronounced Gib-lee) is the name of three different cars produced by the Italian automaker since the 1960s: a V8 grand tourer (1966 to 1973), a V6 twin-turbo coupe (1992 to 1997) and the current executive sedan.
It's named after a type of wind - the Libyan name for the hot and dry, south-western blowing desert Sirocco.
Sure it has weird name but who cares when you have a vehicle that looks this good.
4. It's a practical sports car
It has four doors, a large boot, plenty of headroom and Isofix tethers for child seats.
Is it a practical sedan? If you're in the market for a Ferrari but need the extra space for your kids, the Maserati Ghibli could be the perfect fit for your lifestyle.
5. Whoa! It's amazing to drive
Few sounds in the automotive worlds are as sonorous as the 3.0-litre V6 powering the Ghibli. Not only does the engine sound amazing it delivers blistering acceleration via the smooth-shifting eight-speed auto (you can also switch gears manually via the steering-wheel paddles).
The Ghibli strikes the perfect balance between agility and performance - it's amazing along the straights, easily dispatching a 0-100km/h sprint in record time, and its road-holding belies its size.
Wheels24's Sean Parker said: "My brief stint with the 'entry-level' Maserati was pretty exciting. The interior felt special enough to warrant its high price tag, the 'ox-blood' leather seats were supremely comfortable and there was certainly enough space for a family.
"What interested me however is its dynamics and it's here that Maserati has done well. Using double-wishbone front and five-arm multilink rear suspension, the Ghibli S, is composed on the road and devoid of body roll. Special mention must be made to its intuitive, hydraulic-assisted steering.
"Its manic-sounding 3.0-litre twin-turbo enables it to rocket along the road and in Sport mode, its air-valve system remains open, emitting an intoxicating sound. It's pure drama.
"The Ghibli, in S-badged guise, is not trying to be a sports car. Instead it's superb executive sedan that will turn more than a few heads at the golf course."
6. It costs more than R1-million
Ghibli (243kW/500Nm)- R1 322 000
Ghibli Diesel (202kW/600Nm) - R1 370 000
Ghibli S (302kW/550Nm) - R1 622 000
Is it worth it? The Ghibli has three things going for it - exclusivity, performance and practicality.
Buying a Ghibli is akin to spending thousands on a pair of sunglasses knowing that you could purchase an equivalent pair by a less prestigious brand for much less - in this case a BMW 535i or a Mercedes-CLS.
If you're looking for something exotic (read: expensive) and the exclusivity that comes from owning a trident-badged vehicle, then the Ghibli could be for you.
7. It's for millionaires with kids
No you're not seeing things, those black squares embedded in the plush red leather are in fact Isofix child-seat anchors. Millionaires have children too...
Are red leather seats practical for children?
Wheels24's Janine Van der Post (proud mother of a beautiful baby daughter) says: "The red leather is a plush, luxurious treat but is it practical for kids? Well, it won't be an issue if you have babies or toddlers. There's nothing a wet wipe can't clean and the slick surface of the leather seats are easier to deal with than cloth upholstery.
"The only matter of concern is the legroom in the rear. While the seats are comfortable for seated passengers there's not much room to maneuvre a car seat and baby luggage around."
8. It has a beautifully-crafted interior
The Ghibli exemplifies Italian craftsmanship, built as it is in Turin, Italy. The cabin trim is up to you with Maserati offering a variety of leather choices, colours and materials, including wood and carbon-fibre.
It has a 21cm touch control infotainment system linked to Harman Kardon auto system (a 10-speaker can be specified). Occupants can also access WiFi from the car itself.
9. It sounds amazing
Click on the video below to hear the 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6:
10. Rivals - it has tough competition in SA
We think the rivals include:
BMW 650i Gran Coupe - from R1 493 500
Mercedes-Benz CLS 500 - R 1 222 800
Audi S7 - from R1 221 000
Jaguar XJ - R1 036 200
Porsche Panamera - R1 011 000
Watch: Maserati Ghibli S: Aggressive Beauty