2022 Maserati Ghibli Trofeo M157
With 580bhp of V8 power and a top whack of 203mph, the Ghibli Trofeo is Maserati’s fastest ever saloon. Is it a true end-of-era firecracker? Story by Chris Rees. Photography by Michael Ward.
MASERATI GHIBLI TROFEO
580hp V8 unleashed and on test
Two hundred and three miles per hour. In a four-door saloon. Absurd as that may sound, the reality of Maserati’s new Ghibli Trofeo is that it’s the fastest quattroporte ever made by the Trident. For fans of the brand, the first V8-powered Ghibli is manna from heaven. Just as the world – including all of Italy’s supercar makers – are inexorably moving to electric power, the Trofeo represents one last hurrah for the pure V8 powerplant, a line that has pretty much defined Maserati ever since the 450 S of 1956.
Just look at it. 21-inch forged aluminium wheels. Red-tinged cooling ducts. Red brake callipers (or blue, black or silver if you prefer). Bonnet vents. Extra carbonfibre, including a new rear diffuser. Trofeo badges. And is that black paint? No, it is in fact the darkest blue imaginable (Blu Maserati for the record). What purpose, what poise, what promise.
Strapping into the red-and-black leather cockpit is an equally spine-tingling prospect. No one does interior luxury quite like Maserati. Sitting in supportive Pieno Fiore natural leather upholstered seats, the view of contrasting red cabin panelling looks perfect. Not quite so perfect, though, is the big 10.1-inch central touchscreen: while it’s beautifully clear, it’s sometimes slow to respond. OK, let’s not wait any longer. Time to punch the start button to the right of the steering wheel and…
straightaway I feel my first pang of disappointment. As the twin-turbo V8 cranks into life, what has happened to that characteristic Maserati start-up noise, that lustrous V8 timbre and evocative exhaust crackle? It seems so quiet. OK, the default drive mode on start-up is ‘Normal’, so we can solve the matter by switching to ‘Sport’, right? Nope. Even though this opens up the exhaust baffles, the sound hardly changes: yes, there’s a little extra bite and volume but I doubt your neighbours will bother to twitch their curtains.
That’s a genuine surprise. Maserati V8s should be all about the drama but the Ghibli instead delivers a creamily smooth but muted V8 experience. There’s almost none of the neck-hair-raising experience you get from a GranTurismo, as the Ghibli majors on a subdued, refined drive. Although red-lined at just over 7000rpm, the V8 has so much torque – after a small lag as the turbos to wake up, at any rate – that you never need to rev it particularly high.
OK, so let’s go with the flow and treat this car as a cruiser. In this role, I think you’d be perfectly happy with the Ghibli Trofeo, especially considering the ride is surprisingly good, despite the huge 21-inch wheels and ultra-low-profile rubber.
No, I can’t stop myself. It’s just a crying shame to remain in ‘Normal’ mode and waft around. My finger itches over the Sport button, desperate to sharpen things up. And that it certainly does, in terms of throttle response, gearshift times and exhaust note.
But even in Sport, the experience feels strangely muted, with suspension that errs on the side of comfort. By default, the dampers remain in comfort mode even with the Sport button pushed; you have to press the ‘S’ damper button to firm them up. And I recommend you do, since the Ghibli finally starts to come alive, delivering fresh front-end sharpness and rear-end feel.
What you really need to do, though, is press the button again to activate Corsa mode. Suddenly the Trofeo feels like a pukka Maserati. For starters, it gives you access to launch control and some blistering pace off the line (0-62mph takes 4.3 seconds). And on the frequently damp roads of my test, I experienced the full gamut of rear-drive antics. Even in Sport mode, the rear wheels will happily spin up for quite some time before the traction control intervenes (thank you, Maserati, for trusting the driver). In Corsa mode (which turns off the traction control), full-on slides are almost inevitable. Carry too much speed into a corner and the Pirelli P Zeros struggle to contain understeer; press the accelerator hard on corner exits and lairy tail wagging awaits.
There is no doubt that the Alfa Romeo Giulia QV provides a more focused driving experience for £35k less. Despite its deficit of 70hp and two cylinders, the 360kg lighter Alfa is nimbler and has a better-resolved chassis. The Ghibli really only trumps the QV in terms of its cabin ambience and ride quality. But there’s something very special about this Maserati. The Trofeo name suggests that you’re winning something. Let me assure you, if you drive one, you are: you’re winning at life. This is the car that the Ghibli should have been all along. It’s far from perfect, but as I’ve always said, perfection is boring; just like human company, it’s the character flaws that give you the fun times.
This fossil-fuelled Trofeo is no dinosaur. As an end of an era sign-off, it’s certainly not the greatest car Maserati has ever made, nor even its best saloon. But MC20 apart, this is the most desirable model in Maserati’s current range and it certainly feels better resolved than the Trofeo iterations of the Levante and Quattroporte. Whatever the objective realities are, I’m so grateful that Modena has pulled this rabbit out of the hat. Enjoy it while you can.
Red highlights and new rear diffuser hint at 580hp V8 muscle under the skin. Feels fast, lairy to drive
TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS 2022 Maserati Ghibli Trofeo
- ENGINE: 3799cc V8 twin-turbo
- MAX POWER: 580hp at 6750rpm
- MAX TORQUE: 730Nm (538lb ft) at 2250rpm
- TRANSMISSION: ZF 8-speed automatic
- DIMENSIONS: 4971mm (L), 1945mm (W), 1461mm (H)
- WEIGHT: 1969kg
- FUEL CONSUMPTION: 23.0mpg
- MAX SPEED: 203mph
- 0-62MPH: 4.3sec
- PRICE: £104,200