In terms of styling, it is not uncommon for most of today’s automakers to blur the lines. From crossover SUV’s to sporty sedans, driveways, highways and dealerships are rife with cars designed to be ‘a little of this’ and ‘a little of that’. Follow any line to the top, and you can expect to see full-size sedans that emulate the elite styling and features offered by luxury brands. And though it’s far from being unwelcome, it does contribute to a bit of an identity crisis…and some question as to ‘where they’ll go next’.
This makes the clarity of design exhibited by luxury automakers all the more refreshing. Being in a class all their own, automakers such as Maserati and BMW are often competing against themselves, more than anyone else. And while a BMW loyalist may be unlikely to cross over to Maserati, or vice versa, why not take a look at their offerings in comparison to one another. Take for examples the Maserati Ghibli vs BMW 5 Series.
Serving to bridge the gap between their Quattroporte and Gran Turismo, Maserati’s Ghibli is a sexy, curvaceous four-door sedan available in three trim levels (base, S and S Q4) as well as a Diesel variant. While the base Ghibli is priced to start around $73,550 MSRP, we’ll be focused primarily on the S Q4 which starts around $81,750 MSRP.
The BMW 5 Series sedan is among one of BMW’s most fleshed-out lines. For the sake of an apples-to-apples comparison, we’ll be focusing on the 540i xDrive in this comparison which is priced to start around $58,750. This sleek and elegant all-wheel-drive option is a step up from (base) BMW 5 series sedan, which is priced to start around $51,200. Other options include a Hybrid variant and the wagon-style Touring.
It’s worth noting that the Maserati Ghibli offers a single powertrain option, but that the output differs depending on the trim level selected. Our primary reason for optioning the S Q4 trim is because it is the truest realization of the Ghibli as a performance luxury sedan.
While the (base) Ghibli S is powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 delivering 350 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, the higher of the two trims ‘step it up’ a bit in terms of the output. The all-wheel-drive S Q4 delivers a punch; rated for 410 horsepower, 406 lb-ft of torque and an estimated 20 mpg combined (24 highway, 16 city).
With the signature growl one would expect from a Maserati, the Ghibli is deceptively compliant in terms of handling and overall drivability. Combining notable thrust with smooth acceleration, it is every inch the passionate Italian sports car.
Under the hood of the BMW 540i xDrive is a twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder delivering 335 horsepower, 332 lb-ft of torque and 24 mpg combined (29 highway, 20 city). Just as you’d expect a vibrant experience from a Maserati, the 540i xDrive embodies the cool, calm and collected mannerisms you’d want in a BMW. (For the record, the same could be said for the 530i, which is powered by a more conservative turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder.)
For us, the top pick goes to the Ghibli. By no means is this to short-change the 540i xDrive, which (especially in terms of fuel economy) is everything you’d want in a long-drive vehicle, it just doesn’t channel the same kind of adrenalin rush that comes with the Ghibli S Q4.
Any discussion of design is subjective. This is even more relevant when you’re comparing vehicles such as these, pure and faithful as extensions of a corporate vision.
The Ghibli S commands attention with the low, wide stance of a prowling animal. The signature Trident emblem stands out on a blacked out grill and immediately pulls your attention back to the sloped hood. The profile strikes a perfect chord, using the classic cabin styling of a luxury sedan to balance the inherent sportiness of the Ghibli’s front and rear ends.
The 540i is as much a BMW in form, as it is in function. With an increase of 1.0-inches in length, the result is a more elongated appearance. Confident and self-assured, the 540i isn’t trying to be anything that it’s not, but sitting beside the Ghibli it feels uninspired.
Selection of one over another will always come down to personal preference. For us, this is another win for the Ghibli. (2:0 Maserati)
Once again, the goal of this was an apples-to-apples comparison. Unfortunately, the Ghibli and 540i sit at nearly opposite ends of the spectrum. It’s evident in performance, exterior design and the interior is no different.
The Ghibli (especially with Zegna Edition Luxury Package) offers a heavily-stylized, driver-centric experience. That said, rear-seated passengers might find space to be at a premium. Overall, the layout is far more simplified than that of the 540i, but not in a manner that diminishes it. If anything, it serves as a refinement and is complemented by some of the interior trim options that make it one of the most eye-pleasing interiors we’ve ever seen.
BMW is notorious for having one of the most refined cabin experiences of all, and the 5 Series is no exception. It’s spaciousness enhanced by the extended cabin length, it offers a sublime environment for drivers and passengers alike. A low-mounted dashboard is comprised of elongated panels, exaggerating the cabin width. Intuitive control placement extends from the center console, upwards through the raised touchscreen making it a driver-centric design, yet one that remains passenger-friendly.
Each strong, but for very different reasons, we have no choice but to call it a tie.
Want an 8.4-inch touchscreen with rear-camera, and optional surround view? The option of upgrading an 8-speaker satellite radio sound system, to a 10-speaker Harman Kardon system? Bluetooth-connectivity with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration? Ventilated / Heated Seats? Safety features like blind-spot monitoring, cross traffic alerts and parking sensors with further enhancements available? You can find this all in the Ghibli S Q4.
The 540i xDrive boasts a 10.3-inch touchscreen with navigation system. Bluetooth-enabled, the 12-speaker sound system boasts HD radio, CD, USB and auxiliary jacks and digital music storage. Add in BMW’s Gesture Control, and there’s almost too much to like (and that’s before we start with the enhancement packages).
It’s an easy pick in favor of BMW
Overall, the Ghibli manages to carve a slightly larger place in our hearts, but that doesn’t mean it will do that same in yours. Check out both, to find out for yourself.