Arriving in showrooms this fall, the new 2014 Maserati Ghibli is on a mission to raise both its maker's profile as well its sales numbers here and around the world. While sharing much of the visual flair of its larger Quattroporte sibling along with many key engineering elements, this sleekly styled coupe-like 4-door represents a more affordable and even sportier take on the theme - one that Maserati hopes will find favor with buyers who might otherwise be drawn to more established Euro rivals like the Audi A7, BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe or Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class

Although its overall exterior design is significantly influenced by Maserati's senior sedan, the Ghibli's more aggressive appearance also embodies cues from the 2-door GranTurismo, particularly in its grille and front clip. Dimensionally, the Ghibli is nearly a foot shorter and an inch lower than the Quattroporte. At 118.0-inches, its wheelbase also is 6.8-inches less. However, slightly wider track dimensions give this newest Maserati an even more planted stance whether fitted with its standard 18-inch wheel/tire package or available 19-/20-/21-inch upgrades.

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Here in the U.S., the new 2014 Ghibli is being offered with the choice of two distinct powertrains. Both feature 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged/direct-injected V6 engines that were designed by Maserati, manufactured by Ferrari and are backed by a multi-mode ZF 8-speed automatic transmission with available shift paddles. The engine in the standard rear-drive Ghibli makes 345 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque which is sufficient to send the 3,990-pound car sprinting from 0-62 mph in 5.6 seconds and let it top out at 165 mph. Borrowing an even greater number of high-tech touches from the 3.8-liter V8 used in Maserati's flagship sedan, the V6 in the range-topping Ghibli S Q4 cranks out 404 horses and 404 lb-ft of peak twist which gets sent to all four corners via Maserati's sophisticated on-demand all-wheel drive system. That extra muscle takes the 4,122-pound Ghibli S Q4 to 62 mph in just 4.8 ticks and allows it to reach 175 mph. 

While performance clearly remains a critical consideration, the engines in both Ghibli variants also incorporate a host of econo-enhancing features including on-demand ancillaries and a driver-selectable eco-mode that Maserati has dubbed I.C.E. for Increased Control and Efficiency. The latter functions by tweaking throttle response, transmission programming, overboost capabilities and engagement levels of the flow flaps in the Ghibli's trick Sport exhaust system. The new Ghibli also will be the first Maserati to offer a diesel engine option. But for now, that potent and even more fuel-efficient 275-horsepower turbocharged oil burner will only be offered in Europe.

Like the Quattroporte, the new Ghibli rides on platform architecture that combines steel and aluminum to create a strong, rigid foundation topped by a steel passenger cell. Also Q-Porte derived, its standard suspension components -- like the car's body panels -- are largely made of mass-reducing aluminum. The conventional suspension can be upgraded to Maserati's adaptive-damping "Skyhook" alternative on either Ghibli model and a stiffer, lower Sport suspension option also is set to join the mix at some point after the vehicle launches. A near 50/50 weight balance - 51/49 in the SQ4 - and the latest iteration of Maserati Stability Program plus a limited-slip rear differential helps enhance the Ghibli's overall dynamic character while its speed-sensitive electro-hydraulic power steering ensures excellent directional control. 

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Inside of its stylishly appointed cabin, the new Ghibli mixes Quattroporte-like luxury ambiance with its own unique design character. Trimmed in varying grades of standard and optional fine leather, it features a main instrument cluster that splits its analog-style speedometer and tachometer with a 7.0-inch TFT information display. Other standards include a central Maserati Touch Control center with an 8.4-inch screen, active cruise control, 6-way power driver's seat, rearview camera, dual-zone climate control, a power-adjustable multifunction steering wheel, keyless entry/pushbutton starting and a 280-watt/8-speaker sound system. Those traveling in the aft quarters will find an adult-friendly rear seat with a 60/40 folding back that adds even more utility to the Ghibli's huge 17.7 cu-ft trunk. 

Stepping up to the S Q4 richens the basic Ghibli mix with items like a power sunroof, wood accents, dual 8-way power front seats, Bluetooth and Maserati's corner-following Automatic Frontlighting System (AFS) on its HID bi-xenon headlamps. Both Ghibli variants can be upgraded with option packages that offer numerous personalization touches ranging from unique leather/wood/Alcantara/carbon fiber trim choices and heated/ventilated seats to navigation, a Wi-Fi Hotspot and a 1,280-watt/15-speaker Bowers & Wilkins premium audio system.

Pricing for the 2014 Maserati Ghibli starts at $68,850 and the Ghibli S Q4 opens at $76,950, plus destination fees. By comparison, the most affordable 2014 Quattorporte S model sold here opens at $102,500. 

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