We put a baby and a dog in a R2 million Maserati to see if it is any good at running errands

Business Insider SA
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  • Maserati is a high-end brand – but insists it competes with more mass-consumer car companies such as BMW and Mercedes, albeit right at the top end.
  • So we took a R2 million Maserati Ghibli sports sedan out in Johannesburg for the day – and used it to run errands.
  • There are some things a Maserati is great at, like conveying a baby. But for other things it is not so great.

Maserati claims all the glamour and seduction of its 105 years of Italian heritage.

It also claims to be competing not with super high-end sports and luxury cars – or not just super high-end sports and luxury cars – but also with the top layer of mass-produced luxury cars: the everyday workhorses from the likes of Mercedes and BMW that you drive to the office, rather than the Lamborghini that spends virtually all its time locked in the garage.

The likes of the Maserati Ghibli sports sedan is designed to be a first or second car in the family, the company tells us, rather than the third car – the toy.

So when we got our hands on a top-end Ghibli with all the trimmings (coming in at R2 million for the demo version we drove, R2.375 million for the same thing new) for a testing day, we used it to run errands in Johannesburg, to see how it would do in everyday life.

Here is what our testing shows you can – and can not – do in a Maserati Ghibli.

It is surprisingly good for transporting babies and children.

A baby seat in a Maserati Ghibli

A sleek and fast car that will easily set you back R2 million – used – is not usually the first choice for a family vehicle, but even executives with too much money procreate. And the Ghibli is surprisingly well suited for kids.

The isofix points for attaching a baby-seat base to the chassis are clearly marked, and you don't have to root for them behind cushions, just pop up the covers. That is considerably more convenient than many other cars that try to hide the fixing points as an eyesore.

Maserati isofix points

The Ghibli is big enough that the front passenger can claim a decent amount of legroom, and still leave enough space for a bulky front-footed isofix base to fit behind, with room to spare.

Maserati isofix space left

If you have the package that comes with an motorised rear sunshade, you even have the convenience of being able to keep a kid out of the sun with a single touch.

Maserati sun shade control

But you're not going to take the dog to the park in it.

A Great Dane not going for a walk in the park

With a towel and a little imagination you could use the Ghibli to transport a teacup-sized animal. The rear seat will easily hold a transport crate for a mid-sized dog. But if you are dealing with a proper-sized dog, your options are a lot more limited.

We took one look at Hilda the Great Dane's nails, and did a quick back-of-envelope calculation of the cost of every scratch and nick left behind on the premium leather seat finish, and Hilda did not go to the park.

(Maserati tells us its Levante SUV is much more suited to transporting large-sized animals.)

If you want to go incognito, you have to work for it.

Assembly point

Unless you opt for a particularly lurid paint job, Maseratis aren't all that obvious visually. No gull-wing doors here, nor cars so low-slung they look like they're sleeking around.

But if you aren't careful, the engine sound will give you away every time. Maserati puts a lot of effort into how its cars sound, or its "aural tradition" as the company puts it – and there are flat-out engine-noise fans. When the Ghibli roars you know it, but even when it is purring at near idle it tends to turn heads.

We found that, if you're looking to avoid spending an hour with an appreciative crowd insistent on taking selfies (inside and out), you need to keep your entry speed into any populated parking lot at a minimum – and be very sure indeed you aren't in "sport" mode.

Set the Ghibli to "IEC" mode, for Increased Control and Efficiency, and the bypass pneumatic valves in the exhaust system are closed up to 3,000 RPM, making for a somewhat more discreet rumble. Flick it to the "sport" mode for better performance, though, and it is a straight line from engine to exhaust. 

This is what it sounds like when you flip between the two modes in idle.

You can totally take it grocery shopping – at the right time.

Maserati with shopping bags

The Ghibli has plenty of boot space for daily (or even monthly) shopping, no problem there. The tricky bit is not freaking out about all the terrible things that could be happening to your car while you are walking the aisles.

Solution: shop during off-peak times, so you can find a far-distant parking spot where nobody's hastily-opened door or "accidental" key-scratch can ruin your day.

You can even collect pretty big packages.

Maserati boot space

Our test Ghibli turned out to have a boot long enough to fit one of our future test items, a package just about a metre long. You wouldn't want to move house using it as a vehicle of burden, but it will carry the occasional small appliance just fine.

The boot will hold 500 litres worth of luggage, if you were to, say, take it camping, and like decent sedan the back seats fold down in a 60-40 split for even longer parcels.

But it is best not take it to the drive-thru.

Maserati drive thru

If your personal chef and butler both unexpectedly call in sick for the day, you may be tempted to jump in your Maserati and pick up a quick drive-thru lunch.

We recommend that you don't. Our experience shows that it will take five minutes of conversation about the car with the cashier before you are allowed to hand over your money, plus another five minutes of the same at the pickup window. And that's not counting the extra time as both those alleged "fast food" employees call others over the come and ogle the Maserati.

If your time is precious, it would be much faster to park around the corner and do a walk-in purchase instead.

It is impossible to convince car guards that you really don't have any cash on you.

R5 coin in a Maserati

When you're running around in an old and clearly beat-up car, casual street security providers tend to look at you with pity when, after frantically patting every pocket, you sheepishly admit that you have no cash on you for their remuneration.

When you're driving a Maserati and plead cash-poverty, pity is not the overriding emotion conveyed. Instead you get a get a glimpse of the sometimes fine line between the designations "car guard" and "assailant".

In short, if you are running errands in a Maserati Ghibli, make sure you have a decently supply of R5 coins laid in.

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