The Maserati Ghibli has been caught winter testing by CarAdvice's spies.
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Italy's new answer to the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class is being prepped for its expected mid 2013 launch.

Maserati confirmed the Ghibli name for its new, smaller sedan at the 2012 Paris motor show, which will mark the third iteration of the 'Ghibli' nameplate.

The original Maserati Ghibli debuted at the 1966 Turin Motor Show and proved to be the most popular GT of its day, outselling two of its biggest rivals, the Ferrari Daytona and Lamborghini Miura.

Maserati resurrected the Ghibli name in 1992 with the launch of the Ghibli II with updated Biturbo V6 engines, but the name was buried again with the final year of production in 1997. The quickest Ghibli ever built was the 1970 SS version (coupe and spider) with a 4.9-litre V8 good enough for a top speed of 282km/h.

The company's engineers have tried to make the latest Ghibli mule look like a prototype of the bigger Quattroporte - which has already been revealed ahead of its 2013 Detroit motor show debut. However, our spy photographer's comparison of prototypes (bottom) shows how much shorter the rear doors are on the Ghibli.

The Maserati Ghibli is believed to sit on a shortened version of the Quattroporte's platform.

It is part of Maserati's plan to boost annual sales to 50,000. After the sedan duo releases in 2013 of the next-generation Quattroporte and all-new Ghibli, an SUV to be called the Levante is due in late 2014 or 2015.