Maserati Ghibli vs Audi A6
2017 Maserati Ghibli
2017 BMW 5 Series
Despite the inherent sense of exclusivity that they create, the midsize luxury sedan segment is rife with offerings. Balancing the expectations of superior performance with refinement of styling, these vehicles create both intrigue and envy, alike. From Audi to Mercedes-Benz (and every make in-between) each automaker strives for distinction, creating something that the masses can aspire to. And in doing so, they succeed.
The wealth of choices allows for some of the most enjoyable (yet subjective) vehicle comparisons. As thoughts of “Fire & Ice” come to mind, let’s take a look at the Maserati Ghibli vs BMW 5 Series.
The Ghibli, which is available in three time levels, is the first off the line. Priced to start at $72,300 (Base); $78,000 (S); and $80,500 (SQ4), respectively, the midlevel S sits confidently as a sweet spot. The 5 Series sedan is available with two different engine specs, priced to start at $51,200 (530i) and $56,540 (540i). For the sake of this comparison, we’ll pit the Ghibli SQ4 against the 540i xDrive (as both are the available all-wheel options).
The infotainment system of the Ghibli is designed around an 8.4-inch touchscreen with a 10-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. Bluetooth-enabled with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, the satellite stereo also includes standard auxiliary and USB inputs.
Here is where the 540i shines. A 10.4-inch touchscreen and 12-speaker sound system (with an optional upgrade to the 16-speaker Harman Kardon system) are at the core of the BMW infotainment offerings. The HD stereo includes the expected input options, but also holds 20 gigabytes of digital music storage. With a Navigation system, BMW Emergency Services, iDrive interface, Gesture and Voice controls, BMW really sets a high bar.
The Ghibli SQ4 is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine, paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Serving up 410 horsepower and 406 lbs-ft of torque, there’s no shortage of pulse-quickening power. And yet, the Ghibli remains easy to control with intuitive steering and responsive braking. Seated confidently among the best offerings in almost every element of performance, the Ghibli is everything you’d expect of a luxury Italian sports sedan. However, it is less competitive in terms of fuel economy, offering 24 mpg (highway, 16 city).
Also equipped with a twin-turbo 3.0-liter six-cylinder, the BMW 540i delivers 335 horsepower and 332 lbs-ft of torque. A smooth and confident ride, the 540i is deceptive in its power, as one would expect of any BMW. And in that lies the primary difference, whereas the Ghibli SQ4 boasts the passion and power you would expect of Italian engineering, the 540i embodies the more confident and methodical quality you’d expect of a German sedan. With an estimated 30 mpg (highway, 20 city) the BMW certainly gains more economical appeal.
Considering the strength of both offerings, even review of performance is subjective. We could get hung up on economics, but it’s the power that speaks to us. That said, the Ghibli SQ4 out-powers the 540i enough to affirm the choice we’ve already made.
Let’s just accept that we’ll be using the word ‘subjective’ throughout this piece. In fact, comparison of the exterior design of these two vehicles, in particular, makes it a necessity. Both are visually faithful to their respective brands, which leaves them almost diametrically opposed to one another.
From its trident badge overtly visible over a simplified grille, the Ghibli is immediately eye-catching. And yet, its the distinctive profile which garners the most attention. The sloping rise from its low bonnet styling helps to convey the Ghibli’s aggressive performance potential, as does the sport-inspired rear fascia and dual exhaust. But the manner in which they are bridged by the cabin is gorgeous, as the slow and steady rise to-and-from the cabin give it the visual effect of a low-sportiness. That, combined with its wide stance, give the Ghibli a prowling appearance overall.
And if the passionate Ghibli is “Fire,” the cool 540i is “Ice.” Sleek and chiseled, it too is immediately recognizable as on-brand for BMW, thanks to the distinctive kidney-design of the front grille and emblem. Aside from the minimal incline of its signature bonnet style, its profile boasts many of the same design notes that were praiseworthy in the Ghibli. That said, the 540i is separated by its perceived length, further accentuated by the contoured side panels. If the SD4 is a prowling animal, the 540i is shark-like in its illusion of stealth.
Which one do we like better? Take your pick.
We’re calling it a tie.
One of the things that makes both Maserati and BMW such compelling automakers is the consistency with which they translate the external aesthetic to the interior. And while that’s a strength for both (considering how we scored their exterior), it also forces a divide, when we look at the interior.
This is where Maserati knocks it out of the park. With a far more stylized interior, the passion of Italian design creates something uniquely primal. Whether you opt for a standard interior, or spring for the Italian-silk trimmed Zegna edition package, the SQ4 is gorgeous with contrasting colored leather, and the subtlety of fine stitching. High-quality materials combined with the intelligent layout of controls and instruments make this a winner across the board.
And while the dimension of the 540i may be superior, especially in terms of offering more room for rear passengers, it’s just less compelling than that of the Ghibli. To be clear, the 540i has an exceptionally designed and welcoming luxury interior. The SQ4 is simply something special.
Overall, the Maserati Ghibli SQ4 and the BMW 540i measure up very closely to one another. It comes down to subjective tastes, and what you value in a luxury sports sedan. If you favor the luxury, the BMW may be more to your tastes. If you’re more impressed by performance, the Ghibli has a lot to offer. If we could combine elements of the two, you might just have a perfect vehicle, but the Ghibli just manages to eke out a win (despite the much lower ticket price offered by BMW).