Like many ‘lines in the sand’, the division between coupe and sedan styling has become somewhat ‘dusted over’, as evidenced by many current offerings. One segment visibly influenced by this trend are midsize luxury sedans, with many upmarket automakers serving up a more progressive blend of sport and refinement.
Two such examples can be found when comparing the Maserati Ghibli vs Audi A6. Measured up against the likes of the BMW 5 Series, both offerings are successful in establishing a more sporty look and feel. Measured against the refinement of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, both retain a stronger sense of fashion-forward relevance. But how do they fare when measured up against one another?
The Maserati Ghibli is priced to start at $72,300 MSRP and is made available in three trim levels: the Base, the S (from $78,000 MSRP) and the S Q4 (from $80,500 MSRP). While all trims share the same powertrain configuration, the S trim gains a boost in output; this is also enjoyed by the S Q4 which is further enhanced by its all-wheel-drive functionality.
The Audi A6 is priced to start at $47,600 MSRP. Denoted by their engines (which we’ll explore further) the Audi has broken down into fiver trim levels: the 2.0T Premium, 2.0T Premium Plus, 3.0T Premium Plus, 3.0T Prestige and 3.0T Competition Prestige (from $67,600 MSRP).
While we offer a breakdown of the trim levels and engine configurations below, the most apples-to-apples comparison may come in the form of comparing the (base) Maserati Ghibli to the 3.0 Premium Plus trim of the Audi A6. Not only will it make for the most balanced comparison of performance, but it does help to add perspective to any perception of a price disparity.
Equipped with a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, the (base) Ghibli serves up (and already impressive) 350 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. Jump up to the S and S Q4 trims, and this gets punched up to 410 hp and 406 lb-ft. Regardless of trim level, fuel economy falls in around 20 mpg (combined).
Aptly-named, the 2.0 trims of the A6 are powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, while the 3.0 receive a supercharged 3.0-liter V6.
The former arrives front-wheel Drive standard with a seven-speed automated manual transmission, but drivers can opt for the (Quattro) all-wheel drive which makes the 2.0-liter engine to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The output is rated at 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque, with fuel economy coming in around 28 mpg (combined for FWD) and 26 mpg (combined for AWD).
The latter received the Quattro treatment, arriving all-wheel drive and pairing the 3.0-liter engine to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Producing 333 hp and 325 lb-ft, drivers can expect around 24 mpg (combined).
Both the (base) Maserati Ghibli and the Audi A6 3.0 Premier Plus offer confident handling, braking, and impressive acceleration. All things being equal, there is a sense of light steering for each, which offers some disappointment to driving enthusiasts, but that’s nothing more than a minor critique.
Comparing these trim levels allows for much closer results. That said, even at a base trim level, the Ghibli outperforms the A6 in this head-to-head.
While I usually consider any discussion of design to be subjective, I have to be honest. In my opinion, this is an easy win for Maserati.
With the Ghibli, you get a truly distinctive look. Of course, the distinctive grille with Trident embellishment speaks to exclusivity, but extend your look outwards. From the unique shape of the headlights to its haunched hood design, the Ghibli is simultaneously evocative of both performance and luxury vehicles. This is echoed across its sleek profile, and around to its rear face.
While we wouldn’t dare critique Audi’s refined approach to design, the A6 might just be one of their most pedestrian efforts. Visually, it offers minimal spark in terms of sensory stimulation, especially in terms of its standard sedan profile. While the front-end carries some appeal from the grille down, the rest feels very uninspired.
Both the Ghibli and A6 offer strong and on-brand interior design, as one would expect from either brand. That said, you get what you would expect in terms of disparity. While Maserati aims to stir the senses, Audi speaks to logic and function.
Offering an inspired simplicity, the Ghibli interior boasts distinctive curves and contoured seating that encourage a cockpit-like feel. Front-seating is spacious, while the rear-seating faces only a minor lack of leg room. Back up front, a minimalist approach is taken in terms of instrumentation, choosing to occupy space with the touchscreen display, and customizable surface area. And the customization is where the Ghibli gains massive appeal. Opting for a two-tone schema (such as the red & black ‘Rosso / Nero’) allows the cabin to showcase the inspired layout.
The A6 is all German precision. From gauge cluster to instrumentation, it offers every control with impeccable placement. And in terms of spaciousness, the A6 is hard to beat, offering some of the best-in-class rear seating. The two-tone interior also helps it to measure up against the Ghibli in terms of customization options (albeit trim-level depending).
While the comparison of these interiors is less cut-and-dry than the exteriors, we still have to side with the Ghibli. With even economy vehicles using a kitchen-sink mentality in terms of amenities, we’re approaching a point of over-saturation. In this sense, the more reserved and refined approach used by Maserati makes a strong gesture to differentiate luxury offerings.
As one would expect, the base trim of any vehicle is the least well-equipped; but the Ghibli offers little in the way of disappointment (even with its reserved design). Bluetooth-enabled, its infotainment system (which includes navigation) is built around an 8.4-inch touchscreen with rearview camera and an eight-speaker sound system with satellite radio. Smartphone integration makes the Ghibli compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Overall, not a bad place to start when you know you still have two trim-levels to jump.
At the 3.0 Premium trim level, the A6 counters each one of these features. Adding in voice-activated navigation, Audi Connect (including Google), a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot and a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound system, it manages to tweak out a win. That said, a comparison of base trim to base trim comes up more evenly, with only the availability of WiFi being the determining factor.
Let’s be honest; you’re going to win either way. This comparison of specific trim levels fails to paint a complete picture of either offering. Explore both, as well as their respective trim levels, to find out which best suits you.