Stylish Italians don’t drive SUVs – I wonder why….?

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Just back from a Maserati event in Italy – and just about the only SUV I saw in two days was the company’s forthcoming Levante, due out at the end of this year.

Admittedly, that was on a top secret test track near Turin. Photography was banned and I was too slow to snap anything on my iPhone anyway. Profile looks like a BMX X6 though!

And I certainly didn’t see one Santa Fe. The Italians only seem to own Italian cars – they would buy a broomstick if it had FIAT written on the side.

So, it’s home from Heathrow in the  Hyundai. I’ve been averaging 41mpg in the big SUV. It’s not as pretty as a Maserati but the Santa Fe is great value for money…

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Buying a new motor involves six months of research looking at car ‘porn’

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Come September I’m buying a new car. For me, that involves six months of research and delicious car ‘porn’. At least I can now rule the Maserati Gran Turismo out of the equation.

I’m currently in Northern Ireland, driving the Maserati around County Down. Turns out the 2+2 is stunning in the metal – but lacks the drivability of the Porsche 911, Jaguar XKR, or even the Golf R.

The Mazzer is, like all Maseratis, beautiful but flawed. It’s a supermodel with a scar on her cheek, you simply can’t escape the fact that the Gran Turismo has a deep secret – it doesn’t drive well.

Entering the equation instead is the new Audi TT – except I need the RS version to come along sooner rather than later. Razor sharp handling, high tech interior – it’s a no brainer…

I don’t have a family, so I can admire the XC60 from afar and buy an inappropriate Maserati instead…

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For once I seem to be in the right test car for the weather conditions. Usually I have a rear-wheel drive BMW for ice (appalling), an MX-5 two-seater to go on holiday with a passenger AND dog (tight), or a bog standard saloon on a hot day when a convertible would be perfect (boring).

The point is that even with the keys to a candy shop of cars, it’s difficult to plan ahead and choose the right one. In Britain, spring can be a snow-fest, or a mini scorcher. It’s the only good reason to live by the Med, where the weather is always the same.

Which is probably why in 2015, car buyers seem to want multi-purpose vehicles that do everything. A one-size-fits-all, off the peg motor that takes every day in its stride, and whatever you throw at it.

While the XC60 is never going to set your pulse racing, it’s a brilliant family SUV. Fortunately, I don’t have a family to ship around, so I can admire it from afar, tell my friends it’s perfect for their kids – then go and buy an inappropriate Maserati instead….

Maserati Ghibli – Definitely Not German

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We said arrivederci to the Ghibli today – and then immediately wondered if driving a German executive saloon would ever feel the same again.

Every motoring writer will tell you how wonderful the BMW 5 Series is as an all-rounder. Others will coo over the biturbo Audi A6, or melt over a Mercedes E Class.

But in some ways that simply isn’t the point here. The Maserati isn’t a better car than any of the others but for people who want to slip out of the driveway of mainstream, it’s something of a gem.

The Ghibli looks different, sounds fantastic and feels wonderfully Italian inside – including annoying off-set pedals, and a black roof lining that’s so oppressive it feels like you are squashed in a coffin.

The boot has a lid that sounds as tinny as a TATA when you slam it, the navigation screen catches reflections in bright sunlight and diesel fuel economy is average at best.

Yet for all this, you have to love the Maserati. Your accountant will hate it of course but I promise, it will set your pulse racing every time you sit in it.

Maserati Ghibli – New Era

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Maserati will launch a new Quattroporte soon, plus an SUV called the Levante. It’s the start of a major push to bring Maserati to the masses – or at least those who pine for an executive saloon with a trident badge of distinction. The new Ghibli is a big part of this and should see them shift 50,000 vehicles in 2015. They sold under 7,000 in 2006.

Our diesel version is certainly the one that will attract most European buyers, helped by that 3.0-litre twin-turbo that sounds sensational and loves to be driven hard. Well, it does if you press the ‘Sport’ button on the transmission.

And when you do, it’s almost possible to see the fuel gauge falling in front of your very eyes. MPG in excess of 40mpg is impossible even in normal driving mode, around 27mpg seems the norm for enthusiastic driving. It kind of makes you wonder what the 404bhp Ferrari-build V6 petrol!

Thankfully, the diesel does return low emissions, which might compensate if you are a company car driver…

 

 

Maserati Ghibli – Old Sport

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There’s a very special moment in the Ghibli. It happens when you press the ‘sport’ button on the automatic gearbox and an executive saloon becomes a sports car.

It’s what Maserati is all about – and probably the main reason why many exec buyers will opt for this car, rather than a Jaguar or something German.

Suddenly, the car wants to pull and there’s a lot more urgency about the response from the throttle response. The four tailpipes grumble and, well, it actually starts to ‘feel’ like an Italian super car. Albeit a diesel one.

Car Couture was meant to be testing the petrol S model but there was a cock up with the paperwork. I can only imagine that will provide the sort of non-stop performance that even diesel buyers lust after…

Maserati Ghibli – The Incredible Bearded Lady

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Why did the incredible, bearded lady win the Eurovision Song Contest for Austria? The song wasn’t that spectacular but the singer turned heads Maybe that’s what the Ghibli has in its arsenal – the ability to stand out from the crowd.

I’ve just been down to pick up the Sunday papers and the bearded one is on most of the front pages. When I stepped outside from the newsagents, there were two guys and a kid on a bike peering inside the Maserati.

Now as bold as the Ghibli is in design, it can’t claim to be any more attractive than other four-door saloons, like the Audi A6, or the Mercedes E-Class.

So, I can only conclude it’s the fact the Ghibli has a Maserati badge on the grille. Like the bearded lady, image is everything these days…