Maserati Ghibli bins diesel, goes mild hybrid

Published: 16 July 2020

 Maserati Ghibli facelifted 
 Mild hybrid 4-cyl replaces diesel V6
 Refreshed interior, styling tweaks

Maserati has unveiled the updated Ghibli saloon with mild hybrid power – the first such model the Italian marque has produced. 

The Ghibli Hybrid is part of Maserati’s 2021 Model Year updates. ‘This is more than a typical Model Year update – it’s more than some new paint colours,’ says Valentina Boarini, Maserati’s sedans product manager. ‘This is the first step for Maserati to electrification.’ The company plans to roll out hybridised versions of all its models, starting with the Ghibli.

What powers the new Maserati Ghibli Hybrid?

A 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, combined with a mild hybrid system with a 48V starter generator set-up. The battery is mounted in the rear, for optimum weight distribution. 

Aside from recovering energy and storing it in the battery under deceleration, the motor also acts as an ‘e-booster’ to compensate for turbo lag. ‘We have combined the characteristic of V6 diesel torque with the performance and sound of a petrol engine,’ says Maserati’s electric propulsion spokesperson Corrado Nizzola. Resonators in the exhaust will help ensure a suitably fruity soundtrack. 

It marks a farewell to diesel power for the Ghibli, as Maserati replaces its V6 diesel Ghiblis with the petrol mild hybrid format. Maserati says the hybrid setup will offer comparable performance with the outgoing V6, together with a marked reduction in emissions. 

The Ghibli Hybrid develops 325bhp and 332 lb ft – the latter a lower torque figure than the outgoing Ghibli V6 diesel, a shortfall that is claimed to be offset by the e-booster torque filling capability and an 80kg lighter kerbweight. Maserati claims the engine delivers the highest specific power output in the market. Top speed is 158mph and the 0-62mph time 5.7 seconds.  

The company describes the powertrain as ‘crucial’ for China and European markets.  

The four-cylinder engine itself is shared with Alfa Romeo but considerably modified for its application in the Ghibli. ‘We have made quite a lot of changes to this engine – different turbo and the e-booster, different suppliers,’ Nizzola says.

What else is new? 

A fresh infotainment display with a frameless design has freshened up the Ghibli’s interior, with new software and a larger, 10.1-inch screen. A new instrument cluster joins it, with different options for the look and feel of the display. 

Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is a feature. Connected technology will be installed in all Maseratis from the introduction of the Model Year 2021. ‘The car will remain connected for its life cycle, as long as it stays on the road. So we will allow for new opportunities [to update systems and software],’ says Theodorus Jansen, head of connectivity.

On the outside, both GranLusso and GranSport trims sport a new grille design with a double-spoke shape, in a choice of piano black or chrome depending on spec.

The Ghibli Hybrid can be told apart from the rest of the range on the outside by a blue trim theme, with blue insets to the air ‘gills’ by the front wheel arches, blue brake calipers and a blue inset to the trident badge on the C-pillar. The Hybrid also sports new carbon sideskirts and an altered diffuser design. Redisined machine-forged alloy wheels top off the changes. 

Why not a plug-in hybrid Ghibli?

Nizzola says: ‘we investigate plug-in technology very hard, and you need usable electric range. This means a big battery, mounted very often in the back, and this means problems for weight distribution. The 48V hybrid is the best [balance for] performance and efficiency. 

'People who want to drive pure EV will have options in the future with high power.'

How far away are we from a full EV Maserati?

‘We are closer than you may think,’ says head of global product planning Francesco Tonon. ‘You will see some details in autumn. From my point of view, plug-in [hybrid] is interesting for some brands, less so for a sports car brand. Full EV can provide a lot of performance and fun to drive as well.’

Maserati has communicated that its first pure EV models will be the replacements for the GranTurismo and GranCabrio, due in 2021.

The Ghibli Hybrid will be built at Maserati’s Turin plant. 

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, occasional racer

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