Maserati Ghibli Hybrid Review
Styling And Profiling

Words and Photos by Clifford Chow
24 Jun 2021
 

The Ghibli is the Italian brand’s first go at giving us a mild-hybrid vehicle, and we must say that it is quite a good attempt.

Change is a constant in the world, and with change, we get to see many good things. But change can also be a double edged sword. The biggest change in our current automotive context is electrification. Just about every mainstream brand has been touting some form of electrified vehicle, especially of late. All this to be able to win favour with various governments, with the promise (or at least the belief in) of a greener future.

Automakers have long been pressured to find greener solutions for their fleets. And while the buzzword of “rightsizing” is still an on-going thing, electrification is seriously the next step tat manufacturers have to take, and a huge step it really is.

While the big guns have been at it, producing PHEVs, hybrids and for some, full-electric BEVs. Specialist sports car manufacturer, Maserati is not too far behind towards an electric future. The Ghibli, their first hybrid offering, is already a familiar sight; and now, their new entry sedan has a variant with fewer cylinders, and is designed to consume less dinosaur fossil liquid.

The Ghibli by far, is not a new car. In-fact it has been approximately 8 years since the world got to see the first examples. Today, the Ghibli still looks fresh and timeless, part of this is also due to recent facelift. You will also be forgiven if you were to believe that the car was penned by none other than the world-famous Pininfarina design house. Marco Tencone, chief designer for the Ghibli, once hailed from there.

New to the Ghibli is a redesigned front end, sporting a larger front grille, with chromed bars, to which Maserati says, represents a tuning fork (though I do not see any hints of that). At the rear, the tail lights have been extensively re-worked, with a new boomerang design element inspired by the 3200GT. The frameless windows which give a hint of a coupe-like feel, are elegantly framed with a chrome strip. Denoting that this is a Hybrid model, there are blue accents on the triple side air vents and on the trident emblem located on the C-pillar. 

Inside

There is no holding back in how the Italians have bathed the interior in fine grain leather. Our test car is smothered in a Cuoio / Nero mix, and if preferred, you can even opt for an extended leather package. Buyers can choose open pore wood finishing for the interior’s trim, like in our test vehicle, or even opt for piano black surfaces.

Together with the model refresh, the Ghibli now gets a larger 10.1” infotainment screen, fronting the latest generation Maserati Intelligent Assistant (MIA), which is Android-based. The new infotainment now has voice recognition, which can be activated by the phrase “Hey Maserati”. I must admit I inadvertently did this with a phony Italian accent… hand gesturing included. The new voice recognition system is intuitive, though perhaps not as good as the systems found on Mercedes-Benz and BMW. The infotainment menu is easily customisable to owner preferences with the simple addition and removal of widgets. Somehow, Maserati has also squeezed a wireless mobile device charger into the dash, without major alteration in design. In a time where most luxury manufacturers are switching over to digitised instrument panels, the analogue dials on the Ghibli are quite a welcoming sight.

 

At the rear, the Ghibli seats two in relative comfort, while the third rear passenger will have to contend with the massive central tunnel. Essentially, the interior of the Ghibli feels closer in size to that of a 3 Series BMW, as compared to a 5 Series, the latter which is the intended competition.

The Drive

The four-cylinder 2.0 litre engine  in the Ghibli, which is mated with a 48V mild-hybrid system, is based on the one that powers the Alfa Romeo Giulia. In the Maserati, the engine gets  additional shove from a ‘eBooster’ electric supercharger. The eBooster fills in the gaps that conventional turbocharged engines are inherently cursed with.

The new drivetrain setup produces a promising 330hp, and 450Nm, the latter from 2,250rpm. With the addition of the eBooster, most of the torque is available from as low as 1,500rpm. Acceleration is brisk from a standstill, with the electric-assisted Ghibli reaching 100km/h in 5.7 seconds, almost matching its V6 sibling. The Ghibli Hybrid retains the ZF 8HP family gearbox, found on most of Maserati’s range of cars. 

You also have to hand it to the Italians in making sure that the Hybrid’s quick acceleration is matched by a great soundtrack. Engineers have tuned the exhaust for a sporty note, and have piped in the sound into the cabin with the help of resonators. Lift off the throttle and the satisfying gargle can be heard as the engine sheds speed. 

While all is great up to here, we know that Maserati is keen to keep fuel consumption to a reasonable 14.3km/l. But by doing this, they have greatly compromised on their choice of tyres. Around corners, the Ghibli, with its wonderfully tuned suspension and rigid chassis is let down by a set of EcoContact Continental tyres, where despite the tyre brand’s claims of “optimised grip and handling”, the “EconoContis” struggle to find grip around bends, especially when you’re putting power down as you make an exit.

On most days, driving the Ghibli in a civilised fashion reveals a car that is well-mannered, comfortable given its sporting pedigree. Maserati’s smallest sedan offering is easy to live with, and it is quite a head turner too. Also, it is not very much slower than the V6, and with fuel consumption that is manageable, making it quite a serious option if you are thinking of stepping away from a mid-spec Executive German-badged sedan.

Perhaps Maserati is onto something here.

Our Thoughts

The Ghibli is the Italian brand’s first go at giving us a mild-hybrid vehicle, and we must say that it is quite a good attempt. It also costs about $40,000 less before options, than its V6 sibling… and it performs quite well, while sipping on less.

Then again, in around the same neighbourhood, you could snag yourself an Audi A6 with a 3.0 V6, and the AMG E53 is also priced not too far away from the Audi.

In Summary

We Like

Timeless design. Decently-good powertrain performance. Lovely interior materials. New infotainment is a huge improvement.

We Don't

Horribly-paired tyres. Tiny wireless phone charger might not be ideal for some larger phones.

Verdict

While it is a “foot-through-the-door” Maserati, the Hybrid variant’s pricing brings it closer to its mid-spec German Executive equivalents. If you are buying one, I cannot stress enough… Do yourself a favour and get rid of those tyres!

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SGD 338,800 (18 Feb 2021)

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Engine

Engine Capacity 1995cc Turbocharged
Engine Type Inline 4
Compression Ratio 10:1:1
Bore x Stroke (84 x 90)mm
Power 325bhp @ 5750rpm
Torque 450Nm @ 4000rpm
Power to Weight 166.4 bhp per ton

Performance

Acceleration 5.7s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 255 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 14.3 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 8 -speed Auto
Drive Type FR
Steering Electric

Measurements

Body Type Sedan
Dimension
(L x W x H)
(4971 x 1945 x 1461) mm
Wheelbase 2998 mm
Turning Circle 11.7 metres
Kerb Weight 1953 kg
Boot Capacity 500 L
Fuel Tank Capacity 80 L

Brakes

Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Ventilated Discs