Few automotive brands have as prestigious a history as Maserati. It’s been an incredible icon of the industry for a century and yet, at the moment, it seems entirely lost. Last I had the chance to drive Maseratis, I’d sampled almost everything the brand made in a single day; the Ghibli, Quattroporte and Levante GTS. While I was excited to drive them, only the Levante impressed, which was disappointing. Both the Ghibli and Quattroporte were letdowns, sadly. However the new Maserati Ghibli Trofeo has been released and it’s been designed to take on the BMW M5. Can the storied Italian brand finally unleash the Ghibli’s true potential?

To be honest, there’s a bit of hope that the Maserati Ghibli Trofeo ends up being a great super sedan and it has to do with another Trofeo product in the brand’s lineup — the Levante Trofeo. It might seem a bit odd that the best Maserati on sale is an SUV but the Levante in general is actually a genuinely good SUV and one that’s rather under appreciated (mostly because it’s ugly). Even when I drove the Levante GTS, I was impressed and I hear the Trofeo version is excellent. So maybe for Trofeo-duty, Maserati finally unleashed what the Ghibli is capable of.

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While both the Maserati Ghibli and Quattroporte have Trofeo editions now, it’s the former we want to discuss because it’s the better of the two in their natural state. Plus, it directly competes with the BMW M5, as the Ghibli is a 5 Series competitor.

While the standard cars make do with twin-turbo V6s, the new Maserati Ghibli Trofeo packs a 3.8 liter twin-turbocharged V8. If that sounds like the same spec as a Ferrari California T engine, you’d be right. For Ghibli-duty, it makes 580 horsepower and 538 lb-ft of torque. That power is sent through an eight-speed automatic to its rear-wheels, via a limited-slip differential. The top speed for the Ghibli Trofeo will be 203 mph.

The Maserati Ghibli Trofeo isn’t as powerful as the BMW M5, which makes 600 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque, but that’s not why it’s significantly slower. While the M5 takes just over three seconds to hit 60 mph (C&D recorded it breaking into the high two-second range), the Trofeo takes 3.8 seconds. That’s not quite as quick as the BMW M5 but it’s certainly quick enough to be fun.

But power isn’t the reason for its slower time, traction is. The BMW M5 is all-wheel drive and therefor can put all of its 600 ponies to the road. While the Maserati is rear-wheel drive and will struggle for traction off the line.

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Where the Maserati Ghibli Trofeo is hoping to overtake cars like the M5, Mercedes-AMG E63 and Audi RS6 — all of which are all-wheel drive and significantly faster — is in excitement. The idea that it’s rear-wheel drive, has a reworked suspension, a clever rear diff and some new chassis electronics does make it sound appealing.

However, it’s not as if the M5, E63 or RS6 are dull. So the Trofeo is going to have to be an absolute scalpel of a sedan to overcome the power and performance advantages of its competitors.

To be honest, I hope it does. For starters, I always like underdogs. But I also love the history of the Maserati brand and seeing it fumble around and mess it up is depressing. So to see Maserati return to form and deliver a kick-ass, exotic super sedan would be awesome.

And we know Maserati is capable of it, as the last-gen Quattroporte was an incredible driving sedan. It fell apart if someone sneezed on it hard enough but it was fantastic to drive. Let’s hope this new Maserati Ghibli Trofeo can follow in its ancestors’ footprints. And also hold up to a heavy sneeze.