Chris Nixon rounds up the latest motoring news.

Ghibli opens door for Maserati first-timers

Maserati’s all-new Ghibli is the first mid-sized premium sedan to come to Australia from an Italian maker in 20 years. The last also was a Maserati, the Biturbo, but where it was a niche offering the new Ghibli offers a real alternative to German machinery such as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series.

The Ghibli is different because it’s been designed as a sports sedan from the outset, rather than as a sporting variant of a regular executive model. It looks, feels and sounds the part of an exotic Italian – and, frankly, that includes some compromise.

Another difference is an opening price of $138,900 plus on-roads for a 202kW diesel V6 version. A diesel Maserati may seem a contradiction, but the engine is a cracker and the price likely to tempt drivers wanting something different.

Alternatively, there’s a V6 petrol model ($139,990) with 243kW and V6 S ($169,900) and 301kW.

In typical Maserati practice, the cars are available with a wide range of trim choices to personalise the interior to the Signor’s taste. Inside is luxurious in the Italian style and well-equipped.

On the road, the Ghibli shows a raunchy heart and a firm ride that reminds the driver this is indeed a sports machine.

Reliability screwed

Drivers take car reliability for granted, but it’s a serious and costly priority for manufacturers…

Chrysler is recalling almost 895,000 of its vehicles, including Jeep Grand Cherokees sold in Australia, because a single screw should it be inserted incorrectly during fitting of the vanity mirror could cause a fire.

Such a seemingly small production glitch is an example of the extreme measures makers must take to provide the total reliability we demand.

Chrysler Jeep Australia will contact local owners for non-urgent repairs.

TESTING: Skoda Octavia 132TSI Elegance

$36,040plus on-roads | 5-door wagon
1.8 litre 4-cyl turbo petrol engine | 132kW, 250Nm

The brand from the Czech Republic deserves its growing stature in Australia. A sibling of Volkswagen, the Skoda Octavia shares much of its underpinnings with the superb Golf Mk 7 but uses roomier sedan and wagon bodies.

Slightly more plainly finished than a Golf, the Octavia compensates with abundant interior space, comparable quality and a first-class driving experience. The 132TSI Elegance can top 231kmh, sips 6.1 litres of petrol per 100km and has a vast boot.

FOR: Value, top mechanical package.
AGAINST: Slightly plainer interior.
VERDICT: A must to be considered in this price bracket.