This is the all-new Maserati Ghibli, and it marks the first step in the manufacturer's plan to increase sales from 6,000 to 50,000 cars a year by 2015.
It’s a shock move, but Maserati claims this isn’t any old diesel – the 270bhp 3.0-litre V6 is designed by former Ferrari F1 engine boss Paulo Martinelli, and will be built at the Ferrari factory in Modena. The rest of the car will be assembled at the ex-Bertone plant in Turin.
Petrol fans will be well catered for with a choice of two twin-turbo V6 engines. The less powerful of these will produce around 330bhp, while the range-topper (also offered in the Quattroporte) will deliver closer to 410bhp.
It will also feature a Q4 four-wheel-drive system in Europe, although that version won’t make it to the UK. All Ghiblis will come exclusively with an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox.
No performance or fuel economy figures have been released yet, but using the V6-powered Quattroporte, which covers 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds, as a guide, the fastest Ghibli is expected to complete the sprint in less than five seconds. The diesel version will emit less than 160g/km of CO2.
A hybrid version is possible, although unlikely, says Maserati CEO Harald Wester. He told Auto Express that he'd make a hybrid "only for legal reasons. I don't see hybrids as a business," he said.
With a concave grille, slim headlights and holes punched in its flanks, the visual similarities to its sibling are striking, and the close ties continue under the skin.
Based on a shortened version of the Quattroporte’s steel and aluminium chassis, the Ghibli measures in at around 4.9 metres – a few centimetres shorter than the previous-generation Quattroporte.
The interior appears to share its basic architecture with that car, too, but is finished in more modern colours and materials.
Although full specs have yet to be released, Maserati has confirmed that every Ghibli will come loaded with high-end kit such as leather upholstery, sat-nav and arch-filling wheels.
Prices will reflect this, but still mark a new entry point to Maserati ownership. The diesel is expected to start from below £50,000 and the lower-powered V6 turbo at around £55,000, while the range-topping V6 turbo will come in at just over £60,000.
But the saloon is just the first phase of Maserati’s masterplan. The Levante SUV is due to arrive late next year, featuring the same petrol and diesel engine line-up and priced to match the BMW X5 and Audi Q7.
Beyond that, a replacement for the GranTurismo coupe is expected in 2015, and Maserati boss Harald Wester has hinted at launching a limited-series sports car at around the same time. This is likely to be based around the Alfa Romeo 4C’s carbon tub, with V6 power, and could cap an incredible period of growth for this historic brand.