Maserati Ghibli hybrid and Trofeo on test: mild and wild
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Maserati Ghibli GranSport MHEV
- Crisp new petrol-electric powertrain
- Lots more driver appeal than previous diesel
- Still feels special compared with German rivals
- New engine, but Ghibli dates back to 2013
- Electrification is very mild indeed
- Hybrid design detail might be too subtle for some
Maserati is stretching the capabilities of its Ghibli sedan for 2021. In a big way.
There’s now a version of the GranSport with a Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle (MHEV) powertrain. The petrol part of the equation is a 2.0-litre turbo – the first time a Ghibli has been fitted with a four-cylinder engine. But the hybrid component, with 48-volt power system and “eBooster” electric supercharger, is even more significant: it’s the first electrified Maserati in history.
Ostensibly the MHEV replaces the six-cylinder diesel, so it’s a path to a cleaner future for the marque. But it’s also a more driver-focused car: 80kg lighter, with more even weight distribution (the battery is in the boot) and even more speed: 0-100km/h in 5.7 seconds, compared with 6.3sec.
The Ghibli MHEV doesn’t shout about its status. You’ll spot it (if you really look) it by blue highlights on the Maserati-signature side air ducts, a blue thunderbolt on the rear pillar and blue brake calipers (curiously missing from the long-lead car supplied to DRIVEN).
The Ghibli is just the start for the electrification of Maserati. It’s the marque’s first hybrid, but the all-new GranTurismo and GranCabrio starting production this year will also be its first-ever pure-electric (BEV) models.
In fact, Maserati plans to launch 13 electrified models between now and 2024 – everything from hybrid and BEV versions of the MC20 sports car (which has initially been launched with a 3.0-litre V6 engine) to the Grecale, a small SUV that will fit underneath the current Levante.
But Ghibli is broadening its abilities in more traditional ways as well. In tandem with the greener MHEV comes a growling Trofeo packing the Ferrari-built twin-turbo 433kW/730Nm 3.8-litre V8 we’ve already seen in the Levante Trofeo.
SUVs are big business, but the Levante can’t match the Ghibli for driver appeal. The sedan is lighter and lower to the ground of course, but it also eschews the Levante’s AWD in favour of RWD with limited-slip differential. It also has traditional springs instead of the Levante’s air suspension. It’s a more “pure” specification for the enthusiast.
Trofeo is the fastest Maserati sedan ever made, with a top speed of 326km/h. Launch control is standard and there’s a special Corsa drive mode for sharper dynamics.
We’d love to give you the last word on what these new cars are like to drive, but our time with them was short: less than 50km. So that’ll have to wait.
But first impressions of the MHEV version are of a crisp powertrain that’s very different to the old diesel, but in a good way. Because it’s a mild hybrid, the battery system just assists – it can’t run in EV mode in traffic, for example. It’s a performance hybrid, with 330kW/450Nm on tap.
Maserati says the idea is to give V6 petrol performance with diesel-like economy. It’s hard to compare the latter by the way, because we only have the previous NEDC figures for the old car, whereas the figures quoted for the MHEV are from the new, tougher “real world” WLTP test.
You don’t have to go without a Maserati soundtrack, either. The MHEV has a special exhaust system, with bespoke resonators.
The Trofeo offers all the mayhem (aural and otherwise) you’d expect of a Maserati with an aggressive V8.
The car is unashamedly sumptuous, but it terms of driving attitude it’s still more leery than luxury if you want it to be. In Corsa mode for example, the stability control is completely off. So don’t do that unless you’re on a track. Even then, maybe don’t do that.
Both the GranSport MHEV and Trofeo are based on the facelifted Ghibli, with boomerang-style tail-lights (shades of the old 3200 GT) and an impressive new infotainment system, with a 10.1in screen.
MASERATI GHIBLI GRANSPORT MHEV
ENGINE: 2.0-litre turbo-petrol with 48-volt mild hybrid system
GEARBOX: 8-speed automatic, RWD
0-100KM/H: 5.7 seconds
ENGINE: 3.8-litre twin-turbo petrol V8
GEARBOX: 8-speed automatic, RWD
0-100KM/H: 4.3 seconds