MASERATI entered unknown territory when it launched its first diesel-powered car, the Ghibli four years ago, but it was a gamble that has paid off big time for the chic Italian marque.
Sold in more than 70 countries, diesel and petrol Ghibli sales have topped the 70,000 mark and now Maserati has given the car a fresh new look and a raft of improvements have been introduced.
There are also two new trim levels to choose from called GranLusso and GranSport with an emphasis on either luxury or racing performance.
We tried the GranLusso version which was powered by a Ferrari-sourced 3.0-litre V6 350ps petrol engine and that translates into a 0-62mph sprint time of 5.5 seconds and a maximum speed of 166mph.
According to official figures, the car can deliver combined fuel economy of 31.7mpg with carbon emissions of 207g/km.
Of course, such power and prowess doesn't come cheap - the car started life costing Â£62,730 although a range of optional extras and packs saw that price-tag rise to Â£76,600.
New features on the latest Ghibli include a nose, tail and grille redesign, improved infotainment system, plus a host of additional driver aids.
There's no denying the fact that the Ghibli is one of the finest looking executive saloons on sale today with its sleek streamlining, sweeping light clusters, the instantly-recognisable trident emblem.
Ours was sitting on 20-inch alloys with diamond finish rims to complete the styling. In fact, this is the first vehicle that has resulted in neighbours knocking on my front door asking for a closer look at the car.
Move inside the Ghibli and the Italian craftsmanship is apparent at every turn.
The GranLusso model boastsmulberry silk inserts on the seats, door panels, roof lining and ceiling light fixture. There is open-pore wood trim, a stunning timepiece, tailored comfort seats with 12-way power adjustment, soft closing doors and plenty more besides.
The seats can be heated or cooled and the car featured a pitch perfect 15-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system costing £2,545 extra. Connecting smartphones is a simple process via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and there is an 8.4-inch colour touchscreen which rather disappointedly was surrounded by quite cheap looking hard plastic.
But when it comes to performance, the Ghibli delivers on all counts.
The acceleration through the eight-speed automatic gearbox is rapid with a constant supply of power on tap at all times.
There are three driving modes to switch through called Normal, Sport and ICE which stands for Increased Control and Efficiency, which alter the car's responses.
The blistering acceleration when driven in Sport mode is certainly not for the faint-hearted and the road holding is exceptional when dry and a little jittery when very wet when the rear-wheel drive car needs to be driven with a little more caution and respect.
There are steering wheel-mounted paddles if you want to take more control of the gear changes, but on the downside, these paddles are huge and the left one really gets in the way of the indicator stalk at times.
Maserati has improved the Ghibli's ride and handling thanks to the introductionof an Integrated Vehicle Control system by Bosche. It sounds a tad complicated but basically the system stops vehicle instability and that in turn enhances safety and improves the driving dynamics.
Another first on this car is the electric power steering. Once again this improves the car's handling yet still retains the razor-sharp steering feel that each Maserati is renowned for.
The suspension is a little hard and you will feel the occasional bump and dip along the way especially when driven on uneven surfaces (of which there are many these days).
When it comes to comfort, those up front benefit from oodles of leg room, but back seat passengers do not fare quite so well. In fairness, this is a common factor within this style of car so Maserati is not alone. There is room for a couple of adults in the back though so long as the front seats are not pushed back too far.
The boot can hold 500 litres of luggage and there are plenty of convenient storage compartments and cubby holes scattered throughout the cabin too.
The Ghibli was awarded the maximum five stars when it was tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating and features includeadvanced brake assist, autonomous emergency braking, stability control, a rear-view camera with dynamic lines, a surround view camera, rear cross path alert and tyre pressure monitoring.
An Assistance Plus Pack costing £2,450 added highway assist which keeps the car planted in the centre of its lane at motorway cruising speeds and works in conjunction with the adaptive cruise control. It also added lane keeping assist, active blind spot assist, and traffic sign recognition.
All in all, the new Ghibli is a fabulous car. It demands attention, drives like a demon and oozes Italian flair and elegance.