Maserati is embarking on a major rejuvenation. It’s an ambitious new game plan to take it back to where it, and many motoring aficionados, believe it should be. It’s a celebrated global brand, yes, yet it is arguably not quite punching as high as it was back in the glory days when Maserati ruled the road and the racetrack with the likes of Fangio and Stirling Moss at the wheel. Maserati hopes with a solid business plan, sensible management of product releases, life cycles and, of course, some beautiful cars, it will return to its former glory. The plan includes new models aplenty over the coming months and years. MC20, its halo supercar, will be followed by the exotic- sounding Grecale, its mid-sized SUV, later in 2021.
Maserati is good with names, managing to sound both exciting and fast. A look behind the glamourous-sounding monikers reveals a theme. Lamborghini may have its bulls, but Maserati rides on the wind. Mistral, Levante, Bora, and the Grecale is the latest in honour of a particularly feisty north easterly that whips across the Mediterranean.
‘Folgore’ is another rather alluring umbrella name for the future electrification of Maserati cars. It is simply Italian for ‘lightning’, but it’s a plan to get the company making fully electric cars by 2022. Until then, Maserati is unveiling hybrid versions of some of its signature models for those interested in transitioning from petrol to the clean stuff. These cars will act as the stepping-stone to full EVs and keep the brand relevant in an increasingly environmentally conscious market. You will probably choose a Maserati hybrid, not because you want the most economic car on the planet, but because you love cars, you love driving, but maybe, just maybe you have one eye on the inevitable shift towards full electric and a hybrid will be the halfway house towards that inevitable destination.
Ghibli was the first model to get the hybrid treatment and can wear the badge of the first ‘electrified’ Maserati. Out went the stand-alone V6 and in its place is a 4-cylinder petrol turbo engine mated to a 48-volt battery producing a respectable 362bhp that whisks you to 62mph in a still swift 5.7secs, and ultimately all the way to 158mph. It uses an e-booster system, which acts like an electric supercharger providing a power boost in Sport mode and torque fill at low revs. Despite now housing a battery under the boot floor, this Ghibli is lighter than the diesel version it effectively replaces in Maserati’s march towards a greener future. Yet, for now, it has clearly tried to keep to its core values, retaining keen performance over a purely economic offering. Rear-wheel drive will appeal to the enthusiasts and it also tries to hold on to the brand’s renowned aural presence, utilising an optimised exhaust with resonators to make up for the fact that this Maser has fewer cylinders than any before it. You can tell it’s the Hybrid version as it approaches thanks to a new grille and as it passes by completely new rear light clusters that draw inspiration from the great 3200 GT of old. It also gets cobalt blue colouring of the side air ducts and brake callipers that are unique to the Hybrid.
Joining it this year in the hybrid stable is Maserati’s first SUV, the Levante. It gets a similar mild-hybrid set up as the Ghibli, but this time with the intelligent Q4 all-wheel-drive that befits its off-road aspirations. Peak power comes in at 326bhp and it too may only have four cylinders but it’s no slouch at 0-62 in a flat 6 seconds and a top speed of 149mph. It also gets the tuning fork styled grille and rear light treatment that first appeared on the Ghibli Hybrid as well as the blue accents on the exterior and also the stitching on the leather seats. The interior is initially offered with GT trim when it first goes on sale in the UK this month and it also features M.I.A. No, not the rapper, but Maserati’s Intelligent Assistant which seamlessly connects your Levante with the likes of Amazon Alexa or Google Assist.
Both the Ghibli and the Levante Hybrid will effectively dispatch the, now unfashionable, diesel versions of these models to history and will be the most economic versions the brand sells. They may not achieve the performance of the fire-breathing Trofeo versions of the models, but it does represent the future and where the power will ultimately come from in Maserati cars. The end is nigh for the internal combustion V8 as we move to pure electrification and the hybrid models represent a gateway – not quite the full ‘Folgore’, but definitely a step in that direction.