The all-new 2014 Maserati Ghibli is up to take on the big guns.
It's going right into the line of fire in, arguably, one of the most competitive automotive classes: midsize luxury sedans.
This is the playing field of cars like the Audi A6/A7, BMW 5-Series/6-Series Gran Coupe, Lexus GS, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and even Porsche's Panamera. And this is the first time that Maserati will be entering the market with a proper rival eager to gain market share.
We've been closely keeping an eye on the Ghibli because unlike the Germans or Japanese, this car has something they both seem to lack: style and emotion. No one knows how to bottle up "soul," like the Italian automakers. Not to mention that there's a certain brand cachet that Maserati has and Audi, BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz will not be able to keep up with. Porsche, on the other hand, can compete in the battle of the badge.
All things considered, does Maserati's all-new Ghibli have a shot at becoming the next "hot" product, much like the Porsche Panamera, then Audi A7?
Maserati has long supplied exotic—and expensive—rides to the rich and super-rich. Now the 99-year-old sports car maker is shifting its focus to the merely wealthy. In September the Fiat subsidiary plans to introduce the Ghibli, a midsize sedan starting at $65,600 that it hopes will present a direct challenge to German models such as the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and Audi A6. Maserati is betting it can offer something the Germans can’t: Italian sex appeal backed by the power and cachet of engines from sister brand Ferrari. “We have to steal buyers from the Germans,” says Benedetto Orvietani, a product development manager at Maserati. “We are going after their most demanding customers, the ones that are bored with their Audi A6 and want to stand out...."
Lifting Maserati’s global appeal is key to the effort by Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of both Fiat and Chrysler, to end losses in Europe, which totaled fon ore than €700 million last year. Fiat is counting on overseas demand for higher-margin luxury cars to keep workers at its underutilized Italian factories busy. That strategy will also be used at Alfa Romeo, which will make somewhat less opulent cars aimed at German rivals’ mainstream customers. Wolfram Mrowetz, chairman of brokerage Alisei Sim in Milan, says the company can succeed by building the right image to woo new customers. “Maserati is a hidden jewel,” Mrowetz says. “But it’s crucial for them to market properly to boost their aspirational value for wealthy consumers.”