Maserati’s new Gibli model to challenge BMW and Audi

Maserati‘s new Gibli model, which will start at $65,600 when it hits U.S. showrooms in September, represents a direct challenge to upmarket German models like the BMW 5-Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Audi A6. “We have to steal buyers from the Germans,” said Benedetto Orvietani, a product development manager at Maserati. “We are going after their most demanding customers, the ones that are bored of their Audi A6 and want to stand out.”

The Ghibli — a 1960s-era model name stemming from an Arabic word for a hot wind from the Sahara — is a critical part of Maserati’s plan to boost sales eightfold to 50,000 vehicles by 2015. While that wouldn’t be much for the Germans, which each sell more than 1 million cars a year, it marks a threat because Maserati is targeting buyers of the most expensive, highest-horsepower vehicles.

The four-door Ghibli exudes sportiness with glaring headlights, a low-slung front end and high rear haunches. The base version features a Ferrari 330-horsepower V6 engine and its interior is accentuated by leather from 101-year-old Italian luxury furniture maker Poltrona Frau.

The top-of-the-line Ghibli S Q4 pushes performance with a 410-horsepower engine and a top speed of 284 kilometers (177 miles) per hour. The $75,700 all-wheel-drive model accelerates to 100 kph in as little as 4.8 seconds, beating the $61,400 402-horsepower Mercedes E550.

Maserati said earlier this month that it already had more than 2,200 orders for the Ghibli, and more than 14,000 bookings in total for models across the brand.  “What we have seen so far on Maserati is very encouraging,” Fiat Chairman John Elkann said yesterday at Bocconi University in Milan. “The Quattroporte has been very well accepted. The Ghibli had very good press reviews. This shows that Fiat-Chrysler’s premium strategy is starting to bear fruit.”

Maserati Ghibli