Anybody who has ever been served a gourmet meal prepared in a hurry will understand the new Maserati Ghibli. The meat hasn’t soaked in the marinade long enough. The sauce hasn’t fully opened up. The soufflé collapsed. And for this feast, which is nearly but not quite finished, the kind of people who can hear a dollar bill landing on shag carpet will be asked to pay the bulk of a hundred grand. There may be resistance.
Rushing sausages to market before they’re fully cured has long been standard operating procedure at the Italian salumerie. Your humble author continues to serve on the testing and development team (otherwise known as the owner body) for the Lamborghini Espada—36 years after the car went out of production. And for decades, Maserati has been another punch line that proves the rule.
But after passing through the hands of various owners to land in the lap of Fiat Chrysler, Maserati’s prospects have never been better. The brand wants to more than triple its worldwide sales by 2015, to 50,000 units per year, through a barrage of new products. The attack plan started with the redesigned Quattroporte last year and now proceeds with the new Ghibli, which is basically a short-wheelbase Quattroporte. Later, an SUV will appear using similar hardware. While that last model is still in development, we want to send an urgent plea to management to slow down and take a breath. To figure out what elements make a Maserati special, what qualities are necessary to encourage customers to walk through a blossoming garden of excellent luxury products from blue-chip brands to select a car from the makers of the Biturbo.