When people who come into some money look for a car, the typical choice is to go German: Mercedes, Audi, or BMW. That's really the mindset in our market, much more so than going for something British car like a Jag or going for a premium American car like a Cadillac, or Italian.
I've been fortunate enough to drive a few Maseratis like the Quattroporte, Gran Turismo, and Levante. What I can say is that there really is something different, something special about these cars from Modena.
Now I've had the opportunity to try another, and this time it's the hybrid version of the Ghibli.
Truth be told, Maserati is very late to the hybrid game. They have been fairly quiet about electric or electrified drive technology versus their European peers. But now it's here, and what we want to find out is if it's all that it's cracked up to be.
The Ghibli actually isn't an all-new model. That's why its look isn't all too different if you've seen a modern non-hybrid Ghibli on our roads or abroad in the last 8 or 9 years. The only real difference is that this is the facelifted model already, but only a few elements have been updated. The headlamps, the details on the front bumper, the LED pattern on the taillights, and the rear bumper have changed, but only just. You really have to look a bit close at a photo of a 2013-2020 model to really notice.
That, of course, isn't a bad thing. What we like about the Ghibli is the curb appeal. It just looks more suave, curvaceous than its German contemporaries, and definitely classy for a rear-wheel-drive Euro saloon car. The Ghibli just makes you want to explore places or drop by the yacht club rather than park at your designated slot at a corporate center and attend a board meeting. That's the appeal.
There are some other details on the outside that are different, particularly with the use of blue details on the badges and emblems. This practice isn't dissimilar to what Lexus (or Toyota) does with their hybrid models, and actually something adopted by a lot of automakers as well. But what sets the Maserati apart is the kind of hybrid system they went for.
The beating heart of the car is still a gasoline engine, but it's not a V6 diesel or gas. What the Ghibli has is a 2.0-liter turbo straight-four with an 8-speed auto. It may sound paltry given what many Maserati drivers have become accustomed to, but don't scoff at it because this Ghibli has 330 PS. And it achieves it via a 48-volt system that provides a power boost. Yes, this is a mild hybrid.
That's not to say it's underwhelming. Step inside the car and you're met by a supple leather interior with a uniquely Italian approach to aesthetics and details. They're not trying to achieve something edgy or avant-garde here. It just seems cozy, warm, and premium.
While there are a lot of tech toys here like the infotainment unit, the many drive modes, and other bits and pieces, I find my eyes and hands drawn towards other details inside. Things like the analog clock, the flowing lines, the imperfections and texture of the leather on the wheel and shifter. It just feels different and nice.
The rear seat, while not great for space, does feel inviting too. The scalloping on the rear seats makes it very comfortable for two, and there's a nice fold-down center armrest. For three adults it's a bit tight, especially since they seem to have optimized it for two given the distribution of space.
Even though this car -historically- is nicely suited for long drives on the highway or on scenic mountain roads, the Ghibli Hybrid actually makes for a good drive in town and traffic too. The electric drive of the hybrid system may not be the kind that can totally take over propulsion duties in traffic, but it does give the engine time to rest when stopped at a set of lights. That saves quite a bit of fuel; in my time with the car, I was averaging about 5.4 kilometers per liter, but that was in very heavy traffic. We're talking about an average speed of just 10 km/h.
But once out of town, it just becomes nice and lively. Remember: this is a 330 horsepower Maserati, and it does like to make its presence felt with that sound. I wouldn't say it's a sports car through and through, but it's definitely smooth on the highway, and very enjoyable around the bends. Being a 48-volt mild-hybrid means that there's not much battery weight to lug around, and being a four-cylinder means a much lighter engine versus the V6 models.
What is clear with the Ghibli Hybrid is that the car is a dated platform. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it just doesn't feel as capable around corners as other models like the new 3 Series. The cabin can also feel a bit tight if you compare it to other rivals in the class. I have the same sentiments about the Lexus IS platform which is also dated. The other is that the trunk does get a bit warm; try buying some frozen stuff at the supermarket and drive it home in the trunk. By the time you get home (maybe in 30 minutes) the goods will likely be fully defrosted.
Perhaps the biggest drawback is how we are supposed to perceive the hybrid system in the Ghibli. All mild hybrids don't really offer much more than a power boost and an extended idling stop system. There are savings for fuel in traffic and reduced emissions, but it isn't much just yet.
As I said, it's about how you perceive it. If you look at the Ghibli Hybrid that way, then yeah, you won't be able to justify it. But how I see it is a good first step for Maserati; this model is their first-ever hybrid. It's not a groundbreaking innovation, but it's a step in the right direction nonetheless. And at this stage, every step forward -no matter how little they may be- adds up to count for a lot more down the line.
- Make: Maserati
- Model: Ghibli Hybrid
- Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC 16-valve Inline-4 Turbo 48v MHEV
- Max Power: 330 PS @ 5750 rpm
- Max Torque: 450 Nm @ 4000 rpm
- Transmission: 8-speed AT, RWD
- Price as Tested: ₱5,990,000