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Michael Smallbone ponders the merits of crossing the continent in the dynamic Maserati Ghibli, a car that oozes Italian style. Photography: TVPav.com

Earlier this year my father and I set off on a European tour that took in France, Switzerland and Italy and, of course, the conversation came around to the ideal car to do the trip in. Arguably we went in the most unpractical vehicle imaginable, a Lotus Elise. Whilst it was great fun and a car that got admired everywhere, we concluded that next time we would have to go in something a little more practical, but without compromising on driving dynamics.

Having now driven both the petrol and diesel versions of the Maserati Ghibli, I wondered whether one of these inspirational Italian motoring machines could be the ideal car.

Admittedly it had been a few months since I had been behind the wheel of a Maserati, so I was looking forward to getting myself reacquainted with the controls and learning not just about the car, but the company’s heritage.

The Maserati Ghibli that I had the pleasure to drive today sat outside Bowker Maserati’s showroom, finished in Grigio Maragea – a timelessly elegant shade of grey that does nothing but enhance the aerodynamic muscular shape of the Ghibli.

Without knowing the finer detail of the cars specification, you could be forgiven for not knowing if it was a petrol or diesel engine, but now that I had been handed the key, I was about to find out. I remember when I first drove the diesel version; I couldn’t believe its exhaust note, so as I pressed the start button, I was delighted to hear the traditional sound of a high output petrol engine that you know will impress as soon as you engage first gear.

With normal driving mode selected, I set off from Bowker Maserati in Osbaldeston, down the A59 towards Preston. The Maserati Ghibli seemed at home here, cruising at a steady speed. Feeling its sheer presence through the steering wheel, I knew that should the right moment occur, the power was there to sprint round the speedometer.

The particular model I was driving had a 3.0L V6 petrol engine that produces 330BHP, allowing a top speed of 163 miles per hour – a most impressive set of statistics given that this car will accommodate five people in luxurious comfort, plus their luggage. A remarkable specification comes as standard across the Ghibli range, including the Maserati Touch Control Unit that houses all media and navigation devices, with an 8.4” touch screen that is within easy reach and straightforward to configure.

My journey in the Ghibli allowed me to compare it to its more frugal sibling, the Ghibli Diesel. The diesel also has a 3.0L engine and is packed with the same standard specification, but which one impresses me most? Without doubt, both variants are outstanding; in some respects the petrol performs as you would expect because Maserati has a longstanding affiliation with the performance car sector, but in my opinion, the diesel is the most surprising.

However, if I was fortunate enough to have the choice of taking a Ghibli on a trip to its home country, I would struggle to choose between the petrol and diesel. Both cars perform, handle and play a tune that will make the long journey one of the most pleasurable, but the decision would have to be on the flip of a coin, because I simply could not choose!

The full Maserati range is on display and available for demonstration at Bowker Maserati on the A59 at Osbaldeston, where one of the specialist team will talk you through Maserati’s heritage, whilst showing you their latest models. With on the road prices starting at £49,160 and finance options available on contract hire for only £489 a month, a Maserati could soon be parked on your driveway, ensuring that every journey you make is memorable.

Credit: Live Magazines