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House of the Trident joins the electric bandwagon

S.Muralidhar | Updated on July 23, 2020 Published on July 23, 2020

The central console accommodates an updated gearshift lever and driving mode buttons, and the double rotary knob that provides audio and other functions   -  Aldo Ferrero

Maserati starts out on its EV journey with the Ghibli. Can the new Hybrid change its fortunes?

Maserati had announced its plans to join the electric vehicle market trend years ago. It now has firm plans for introducing the all-electric GranTurismo and the GranCabrio next year. All new models post 2021 are also expected to be offered with electric powertrains. The first step in the run-up to full electrification will be the recently developed and just launched Ghibli Hybrid. This smaller 4-door sedan (compared to the Quattroporte) from the House of the Trident has sold about 100,000 units since its launch in 2013. It hasn’t really set the sales chart ablaze as the company was hoping it would. On the contrary, during the last two years Maserati’s sales have taken a beating due to slump in China and the US. So, can the new hybrid powertrain help it claw back some of the numbers, even as the model will now meet the more stringent emission norms that have come into effect in many markets worldwide?

Greener than petrol

Ghibli Hybrid is built around a modified version of the chassis and bodywork of the Ghibli V6. This version combines a 4-cylinder, 2-litre engine with a 48-volt battery hybrid system that enables energy to be recovered when decelerating and braking. Maserati has chosen a hybrid solution that aims, above all, to improve performance, while also saving fuel. The Italian luxury automobile brand claims that the same engine performance level of every Maserati model is retained but consumption is reduced, making the Hybrid version even more efficient than those equipped with the gasoline or Diesel V6 engines. Maserati says that “it squares the circle by delivering the smooth response of a 6-cylinder engine with the low-rpm torque of a diesel”. The hybrid system delivers the same pickup as the diesel version together with the power and acceleration of the 350hp V6 gasoline engine, all combined with a reduction in CO2 emissions by 25 per cent compared to gasoline and virtually the same as the diesel according to WLTP (new European standard) data. The Maserati 48-volt hybrid system has four parts: Belt Starter Generator (BSG), battery, eBooster and a DC/DC converter. The BSG does the job of an alternator, recovers energy during braking/ deceleration and charges the battery in the boot, which in turn powers the engine's eBooster. The reason for installing an eBooster (electric supercharger) on the car is to back up the conventional turbocharger, working in tandem with it, to sustain the engine's power output at low rpm. The hybrid system's operating strategy ensures that the eBooster is always available, via battery or BSG, whenever it is needed.

Maserati says that the BSG and eBooster combination is unique in the hybrid sedan segment and provides an extra boost when the engine reaches peak rpm in sport mode, at which point the performance benefits can be fully enjoyed, while in normal mode it balances fuel use and performance. Ghibli Hybrid is still focused on better performance; the hybrid weighs less than the 6-cylinder engine equivalent, and has even better weight distribution, since the engine is front-mounted and the battery is placed in the rear. The internal mechanical components of this engine derived from FCA have been completely restyled by the Maserati Innovation Lab in Modena, The engine's electronic control system is also completely different, with a switch to a Bosch new-generation ECU. In practice, all that remains of the original engine are the dimensions and part of the cylinder head.

The hybrid power plant provides a CO2 emission level below that of the V6 Diesel and a fuel saving of 20 per cent over the 350hp V6, with undiminished performance. The start of production is scheduled for September, and the first cars will reach the showrooms at the end of October. Production for the Japanese and Korean market will start in February 2021. Maserati claims that the Ghibli Hybrid retains the soul of the brand in every respect, including the sound, which, in spite of the hybrid propulsion, still has the distinctive growl. It is achieved without resorting to amplifiers, by just tweaking the fluid dynamics of the exhausts and adopting resonators, tuned to deliver the typical roar.

Thanks to maximum power output of 330hp and torque of 450Nm available from just 1,500 rpm, the new Ghibli Hybrid's performance data are very impressive: top speed is 255 kmph and acceleration from 0 to 100 kmph is 5.7 seconds.

Design

The hybrid version of Ghibli features a number of details in dark blue, the colour universally adopted as the symbol of clean mobility. The Maserati trademark three air ducts on the front mudguard have a blue trim colour, as are the Brembo brake calipers and the thunderbolt in the pillar logo. Ghibli Hybrid debuts a new front grille highlighted by a distinctive feature: the Maserati tuning fork.

The updated front grille is based on this shape, and is finished in chrome in the GranLusso trim and in an even more aggressive, sportier Black Piano in the GranSport trim. The rear design also gets changes including a new light cluster with a style known as boomerang design, inspired by many Maserati models from history. It is a distinctive feature of all MY21 cars and appears on all Ghibli MY21 trims with its special finish - black around the edge, red in the middle and clear in the bottom section.

The Ghibli Hybrid’s interior also gets an array of exclusive features, like the 12-way power sport leather front seats with integrated anti-whiplash headrests, the sport steering wheel fitted with aluminium gearshift paddles, and the Inox sport pedals. Ghibli Hybrid is available in both GranLusso and GranSport trims with some differences depending on the market.

The central console accommodates an updated gearshift lever and driving mode buttons, as well as the characteristic double rotary knob, a high-quality forged aluminium component that provides intuitive control of the audio volume and other functions. MY21 also sees the introduction onto Ghibli of the wireless smartphone charger (standard or optional), inside the smartphone compartment.

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Published on July 23, 2020
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