The biggest news from famed Italian automaker Maserati – that its first-ever hybrid powertrain is going into its mid-sized Ghibli sport sedan – is actually non-news for fans of the car in North America. Because it’s not coming here. At least not yet.
According to Valentina Boarini, head of product planning, the North American market – that is to say, the U.S. – prefers power to fuel economy.
“When we decided to launch the MHEV (Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicles), we evaluated the needs of the market and the customer preferences in the United States and we think that this market prefers other kinds of alpha engines,” said Boarini. “In fact, we think the right engine for the US will be … the V8 because it’s tailor-made for the U.S. market.”
So instead of a 325-net-horsepower four-cylinder with an electric motor, which will replace the diesel engine for the European market, we’re getting the Ghibli Trofeo with a mega-horsepower V8. Yes, the news turns out to be that the Trofeo, which was (and is) the most sporting derivative of the Levante sport-ute, will become a line, the name additionally being affixed to the full-sized Quattroporte four-door sedan.
Calling it the peak of the Maserati driving experience, the Ghibli and Quattroporte Trofeos are powered by a twin-turbo 3.8-litre V8, one that punches out 580 horsepower at 6,750 rpm and 538 foot-pounds of torque.
This engine is built at the Ferrari plant at Maranello to Maserati’s specifications, and has been modified to deliver even more performance for the rear-wheel-drive sedans. (Although completely new for the Ghibli, a 523-hp version of the V8 engine has already been used in the past in the Quattroporte GTS.)
So fitted, Maserati claims the Ghibli and Quattroporte Trofeo will be its fastest sedans ever, with a zero-to-100-km/h time of 4.3 seconds for the Ghibli – 4.5 seconds for the Quattroporte – and a top speed for both of 326 km/h. The Levante Trofeo’s maximum speed is a mere 302 km/h.
Unlike the Quattroporte, which can easily accommodate a V8, there were some technical challenges involved with putting the engine in the smaller Ghibli. According to Raniero Bertizzolo, Maserati product development-vehicle line executive, this meant having to check areas such as air flow and cooling. “And this was the main focus … to get the best in terms of performance … and also having the proper tuning to get the best from the vehicle.” This tuning required sessions at the Nürburgring and the test track at Nardò, in southern Italy.
All three Trofeo models incorporate an Integrated Vehicle Control system, with a specific setup that, says Maserati, guarantees enhanced driving dynamics, greater active safety “and even more thrilling performance.” The sedans have a Corsa button that retunes the cars’ dynamics for more aggressive engine response and faster shift times. Also included is Launch Control, a function that first appeared on the Levante Trofeo, “to unleash all the engine’s power and deliver breathtaking performance and an authentic Maserati driving experience.”
In addition to the power upgrade, the Trofeo sedans get some stylish touches to distinguish them from the other trims — a front grille with twin vertical bars in piano black finish, plus carbon fibre on the front air ducts and rear extractor. The light clusters have been restyled, with a boomerang-like profile inspired by the 3200 GT and the Alfieri concept car.
Inside, the cars get a new on-board screen that displays an exclusive interface at switch-on, while the headrests bear the Trofeo badge with the name in three-dimensional relief. The exclusivity also extends to the interior upholstery, in full-grain Pieno Fiore natural leather.
New technologies also appear in MIA (Maserati Intelligent Assistant), the multimedia screen with upgraded resolution and larger size — 10.1-inch on both Ghibli Trofeo and Quattroporte Trofeo, while Levante retains the 8.4-inch display, but with improved resolution and graphics. Furthermore, thanks to the Maserati Connect program, now the Trofeo collection is always connected, with a full set of services to simplify its use.
Despite the Ghibli Hybrid not coming to North America, Maserati’s plans for its product lineup includes development of electrified vehicles. The company has gone on record as saying it will adopt hybrid and battery electric propulsion systems “delivering all the innovation and outstanding performance typical of the brand’s DNA.” This includes the redesigned GranTurismo and GranCabrio sports cars, which will “adopt 100 per cent electric solutions” in 2021. Also, the upcoming new flagship MC20 sports car will sport a totally electric variant alongside a traditional version.