The Maserati Ghibli Hybrid GranSport is an Italian sports car.
Don’t let the word hybrid fool you. Fuel efficiency is not this Ghibli’s strong suit, and its exhaust is anything but quiet.
This athletic sedan does not use electrification to take emotion away, but rather to enhance the dramatic affair that is a Maserati.
Maserati South Africa invited TopAuto to have a spin in its Ghibli Hybrid GranSport before the car exits the media fleet and goes on to greener pastures.
Naturally, we jumped at the opportunity.
Maserati explained that the Ghibli Hybrid employs a 48-volt, mild-hybrid drivetrain that utilises a belt-driven alternator and electric supercharger to enhance performance in the low rev ranges.
This is coupled with a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-petrol engine – which replaces the V6 diesel in the entry-level Ghibli of old – to deliver a total of 243kW and 450Nm.
The brisk low-end acceleration of the Ghibli Hybrid is something you wouldn’t expect from such a large car – it’s noticeably bigger than a BMW 3 Series – with a relatively small petrol engine.
In my experience, this was one of the most enjoyable parts of this particular Maserati.
The car not only offers an impressive 0-100km/h sprint of 5.7 seconds that is complemented with brilliant exhaust burbles, but also a long powerband that is fully usable and won’t leave you wanting more.
Comfort and Sport settings allow you to tune suspension stiffness and throttle response individually, and both were flipped into Sport throughout the hours I spent with it.
This led to an unexpected development – the sporty four-door getting quite tail-happy. Granted, I was driving on wet roads.
Potential buyers should not expect a hard, corner-gripping ride, however, as the Ghibli’s focus points are straight-line speed and long-distance comfort.
When you spend R2.26 million on a Maserati, you expect to waft around in supreme luxury – and this Ghibli in its GranSport trim delivers.
The GranSport spec adds R624,000 to the price of the base Ghibli Hybrid, and with this you get blacked-out exterior elements, carbon fibre veneers in the cabin, stainless steel shifter paddles, an upgraded Bowers & Wilkins sound system, and an even more premium leather upholstery.
The hybrid Ghiblis also get blue interior stitching to go with the blue exterior highlights and brake calipers, which make their electrified powertrains known to onlookers.
After nearly nine years on the market, the Ghibli’s interior has seen its fair share of refreshes – with this latest iteration still looking classy and fashionable.
Unlike most of its competitors, Maserati did not rush into the trend of digitizing its cabin and making everything angular, and that’s something I appreciate.
New-age driver assistance systems such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist are still available, though, and connectivity features including wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are accessible through a good-looking touchscreen.
Infotainment is provided by the Android Automotive operating system (OS), which makes Maserati one of the few brands in South Africa currently using this cutting-edge software.
It’s an OS I enjoy much more than the in-house systems most manufacturers build into their cars.
Beyond this, you’re looking at thick, beautiful black leather seats, a carbon centre console, gorgeous analogue gauges, a curvaceous and bolstered steering wheel, and upscale buttons and switches that all blend together to make the interior both contemporary and timeless.
The cabin does show small hints of its age in places, with the 90s-style speaker grilles and sunshade mirrors, but these can easily be overlooked.
I was told that when Maserati set out to build the Ghibli Hybrid, which is the Italian sports-car maker’s first electrified product, there was one rule: it must be a Maserati first and a hybrid second.
This meant that it had to drive well, produce a great sound, and look the part.
Well, they were spot on.
The Ghibli Hybrid has an elegant and intricate design that seems simplistic at first, but gets better the longer you stare at it.
Inside, an ultra-luxurious cabin screams Italian flair and, when you gear up on one of the most satisfying shifter paddles I’ve ever felt, you hear exciting exhaust pops that enhance the visceral experience.
The Ghibli Hybrid might not be as fuel-efficient as other hybrids, but it’s tasteful, plenty powerful, and is a Maserati at its core.