Maserati kicked off its electrification campaign by releasing a hybrid version of the Ghibli, its entry-level model. The sedan gains a mild hybrid system, subtle visual tweaks, and many technology upgrades inside.
Unveiled online, the brand's first production-bound electrified car features a gasoline-electric powertrain built around a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. It works jointly with a 48-volt belt-driven starter-generator and what the company calls an e-booster that's essentially an electric supercharger. The system's total output checks in at 330 horsepower at 5,750 rpm and 332 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm, and it channels its power to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission and a limited-slip differential.
Maserati quotes a 5.7-second sprint from zero to 62 mph, and a 159-mph top speed. While fuel economy figures are still being finalized, preliminary estimates peg the Hybrid's fuel consumption at about 27.6 mpg in a combined cycle, a figure which — if accurate — makes it less efficient than the 31.3-mpg diesel model it will replace.
Adopting 48-volt technology was the best way to electrify the Ghibli, according to the brand.
"We thought about a plug-in option for the Ghibli, but when you put a lot of batteries — and a lot of other stuff — into the car, it adds weight and it's going to jeopardize the performance and the fun-to-drive quotient that is key for Maserati. I'm not saying this to diminish the good points of the plug-in hybrid technology, but it's not the best solution here," Francesco Tonon, Maserati's head of global product planning and marketing, told Autoblog.
Tonon pointed out making the Ghibli a hybrid wasn't an excuse to make it dull; it still needed to drive and sound like a Maserati. It's 176 pounds lighter than the diesel-burning model, and it offers better weight distribution because there is a lighter engine under the hood and some of the hybrid components are installed in the back. As for the sound, Tonon proudly explained his team gave the Ghibli a unique exhaust note worthy of the storied trident emblem without resorting to an amplifier, by tweaking the system and adopting resonators.
Subtle design changes set the Hybrid model apart from the non-electrified Ghibli. It receives a redesigned grille with double blade spokes styled to look like a tuning fork, new-look rear lights with boomerang-shaped inserts that echo the 3200 GT built from 1998 to 2002, plus blue accents on the brake calipers, the vents chiseled into the front fenders, and the emblems installed on the C-pillars. Inside, the Hybrid gets blue stitching on the seats.
Maserati gave the Ghibli a technology-focused makeover by installing a new instrument cluster and a 10.1-inch touchscreen that displays an Android-powered infotainment system. It's compatible with Android Auto, of course, but iPhone-wielding drivers will still be able to load Apple CarPlay. Amazon Alexa compatibility is built in, too, meaning motorists will have the option of giving orders to miscellaneous internet-connected devices while they drive, and the icons on the infotainment's home screen can be customized like on a smartphone or a tablet. All of these features are making their debut on the Hybrid, but we're betting they'll soon appear in other models.
There's a catch: Autoblog learned it will not be sold in the United States.
"We evaluated the needs of the market and the customer preferences in the United States, and we think this market prefers other kinds of engines," a company spokesperson told us. American motorists who want to put an electrified Maserati in their garage are out of luck for the time being, but the company stressed the Ghibli won't be its last hybrid. And we know it's working on a pair of battery-electric models scheduled to break cover in 2021.