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USED VS NEW COMPARISON ignale and Maserati have crossed paths before. Alfredo Vignale’s Italian coachbuilding company counted Maserati as one of its clients in the late 1960s, but, after selling the company to De Tomaso, the Vignale name eventually ended up in the hands of Ford in 1973. Vignale as a moniker disappeared soon after, resurfacing briefly on a Lagonda concept car in 1993 before its most recent revival as an upmarket trim level, which has, helpfully, created an ideal match for this new versus used test. On one hand you’ve got Maserati, a low-volume Italian car maker with a rich heritage looking to move into the mainstream with a lavish diesel saloon, namely the Ghibli. On the other hand there’s Ford, car maker for the people, looking to sprinkle some Italian inspiration on its lineup by creating a sub-brand that appeals to a smaller, more exclusive pool of buyers and stops current Ford owners from disappearing to Audi when they want something a bit plusher. The Blue Oval’s offering? The Mondeo Vignale. The rear-wheel-drive Ghibli from 2014 we have here is yours for

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£31,975 from used car dealership Junction 17 in Peterborough. The car has 15,000 miles on the clock, so it comes at a good price for a low-mileage example, with sat-nav and front and rear parking sensors. This is a fair benchmark for the new all-wheel-drive Mondeo Vignale it’s up against, a car which, at £32,745, is a little more expensive than this Ghibli. The Vignale model is based on a Titanium Mondeo, so it’s stacked with kit, but buyers get a comprehensive warranty programme, too. But which does the better job as an Italian (or pseudoItalian) deluxe saloon for £32k? The Ghibli’s Italian flair is obvious in its design, but don’t be fooled by its looks: this saloon is not your typical Maserati. It does, however, follow the brand’s traditional nomenclature. The Ghibli name first appeared in the manufacturer’s range in 1966 and follows a Maserati quirk of naming cars after different winds (the hot, dry Ghibli can be felt breezing its way across the Sahara). In the face of dwindling sales, Maserati resurrected the name for its new saloon back in 2013, then threw in its first ever diesel engine to gobble up sales in a more mainstream market. And the car

delivered, jumping straight to the top of Maserati’s sales charts. But in appealing to the masses, the Ghibli lost some Maserati charm. Step inside and at a glance it’s awash with leathers and woods, and there’s a classy analogue clock. However, look a bit closer and some of the fake wood inlays have been rather crudely fitted, while the infotainment system, which is only a couple of years old, already feels about as ground-breaking as a Nokia 3310 at an iPhone launch. It still feels more special inside than your run-of-the-mill saloon, though. Not better than the Germans but at least different, and there’s certainly a whiff of Italian swagger clinging to the cabin. Fire up the 3.0-litre V6 diesel and the noise is disappointing, but what did you expect? This is the entry-level version aimed at fleet buyers chasing economy rather than thrills. Wind it up and performance is brisk, but it never feels particularly involving and the engine is gruff. There’s plenty of road and engine noise to contend with, so it isn’t particularly relaxing, either, but it is at least well planted at motorway speeds (which is more than can be said at

low speeds, due to the jittery ride). It’s certainly not a struggle for the engine to haul the car up to cruising speed, but the uninspiring diesel soundtrack makes it feel like a bit of a blunt instrument. Not that Ghibli buyers seem to mind, with 90% of them plumping for this engine. Anything other than a straight line shows a few more weaknesses. The Ghibli is a heavy beast, weighing 1835kg – around half a G-Wiz more than the Mondeo or a BMW 5 Series. That extra bulk is noticeable through the heavy steering, which, despite being hydraulically assisted, doesn’t offer much feel. Turn-in isn’t very sharp, either, so the car lumbers around corners. You can feel it’s rear drive, too, especially when accelerating out of damp junctions on greasy asphalt as the back tyres scrabble for ◊

Ghibli has six cylinders to Mondeo’s four

❝ The Ghibli’s performance is brisk, but it never feels particularly involving ❞ 23 NOVEMBER 2016 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 45

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