Since launch about seven or so years ago, the Ghibli has worked wonders for Maserati, bringing in new buyers into the family of il Tridente. It allowed a greater selection of people to say “I have a new Maserati.” Now to signify the brand’s intentions to go greener throughout the range, Maserati have incorporated hybrid technology in to the Ghibli and the Levante SUV. A hybrid Maserati? Yep.
Feel free to throw that classic “well I never” phrase in if you want, but having hybrid tech in their two most popular models is not only a signal of the brands intentions to go full electric in the near future, but also to keep pace with their rivals who have been doing this for a number of years. Basically, Maserati needs to catch up. The Ghibli GT Hybrid is the first model to get the electric treatment, but is it up to the task?
Well, to start off, the hybrid part actually means mild hybrid. Under the bonnet sits a 2.0L four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine assisted by a 48V battery and electric motor. A mild hybrid works by storing electric energy and using it where ever it is need most.
Maserati claims this set up makes the Ghibli GT Hybrid 20 per cent more efficient than the bi-turbo V6, with combined fuel figures of 9L/100km. The mild hybrid, turbo petrol combo is mated to Maserati’s 8-speed ZF auto transmission sending drive to the rear wheels. Maserati claim a zero to 100km/h time of 5.7 seconds and a top whack of 255 km/h.
Styling wise, the Ghibli is still a handsome brute. All thing considered it is probably the most stylish looking car in this segment. The trident still takes centre stage and those 20-inch Urano alloys look good too, as does its Grigio Evoluzione Three Layer Metallic colour scheme. There are tell-tale signs of its hybrid stance, such as the blue brake calipers, blue streak across the rear three quarter Maserati emblem and around the side vents.
Inside it is just as stylish and you do have the distinct feeling of being cocooned by your surroundings. In the front this works fine as there is ample and head and legroom to find a driving position that suits. However, the rear quarters can be quite restrictive. My 5ft 10 frame could fit well enough, but taller folk may struggle folding themselves into and getting out of the rear.
Boot space is rated at 500L and for an executive saloon that isn’t bad. You could easily some average sized suitcases and bags in here, the only drawback is the boot opening is not terribly wide. Open up the boot floor and you are greeted with the sight of your mild hybrid battery pack.
Some of the switchgear feels a bit plastic-y but the majority of your surroundings has a strong refined ambience to it. I have always loved the way Maserati throw in features like an analogue trident embossed clock and lashings of high-grade Nero leather. The steering wheel feels good in your hands but it does feel somewhat larger than others in this class.
The Ghibli GT Hybrid gets Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Wireless Charging, Parking Sensors Front and Rear, Electric Sunroof, Power Boot Lid, Dual Laminated Glass and Full LED-Adaptive Headlights. However, I wish my test car had some heated/ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, head up display, and a 360-surround camera.
The partially electrified Ghibli claws back points by having the slickest infotainment system I have seen in any Maserati. The previous generation was nothing to write home about, basically one could tell it was from the FCA parts bin. The new 10.1 Maserati Intelligent Assist multimedia system is very responsive and looks so darn sharp that it blows the old system into last week. The voice interface system is responsive too.
It’s probably not the most exciting sounding power unit found in a Ghibli, you want the epic sounding V8 Trofeo for that, but that turbo four cylinder allied with that 48V hybrid system means there is an impressive amount of go off the mark.
Accelerating up through the rev range with mild electric drive working in tandem with that turbo four pot and it feels really meaty, as if all those 450Nm are coming at once in one solid lump. There was a minimal amount of tyre roar on some B-roads but on the dead smooth stuff of the Christchurch Northern Link, things were kept very quiet and refined.
Since economy is the name of the game with the hybrid, you would want things to be as frugal as possible and all things considered it is, especially in eco focused I.C.E mode. In Normal mode around town, I was able to average between 11.5 and 12.3L/100km but on the great wide open where that turbo four pot/hybrid combo is able to relax a bit more, figures like 9.8L/100km average were pretty impressive.
A motorway cruise is the Hybrid’s forte. As mentioned before, it is by far the quietest Maserati I have yet drive at the New Zealand open road limit. It was at this point I was struggling to see the necessity for buying the V6 over this. The addition of the Mild Hybrid set up makes the Ghibli a bonafide four door GT car. I would quite happily saunter to Greymouth on a regular basis in this.
If the mood strikes you and you want to remove the shackles of you Ghibli Hybrid, then selecting Sport mode and sliding that gear-lever over into manual mode is easy enough. Downshifts are relatively brisk but upshifts give a split-second delay with each change. Despite not being as rapid as some may like, it still feels satisfying with each flick of the paddles.
You can push hard if you want too and it bodes well in the twisty stuff, but to be honest, I got just as much joy just graciously cruise along. The GT Hybrid can partake in driving exuberance well enough, but it mostly encourages you to glide along sipping away at the go-juice.
The Ghibli GT Hybrid starts off at $142,500 plus ORC which is quite a bit, however my test car currently retails at $139,000 which makes it the most cost-effective new GT hybrid out there. It is still a lot when you consider its standard kit list isn’t the longest. However, if you are expecting the last word in bang up to date gizmos and tech, then this Ghibli GT Hybrid is probably not for you.
Its appeal is to someone who champions something with immense style and presence while using as little fuel on a trip as possible. You certainly don’t need the V6. Aside from the bellowing V8 Trofeo, for daily use and a long trip, the GT Hybrid is the Ghibli to get. I just wonder why Maserati didn’t do it sooner?