ONE of the concerns about electrification in vehicles is the loss of voice.
You could create an acoustic sound to compensate for the silence of the amps, but that would be like living a lie.
For performance internal combustion engine cars, one of their endearing qualities must be the growls, yowls and howls they emit. Where would the fun be without a full-throated scream at full throttle and a firmly-sprung, low-slung ride that amplifies every imperfection in the road?
The hybrid is probably a better option for cars that want a natural sound (without having to resort to acoustic lip-syncing) to accompany their responsible environmental attitude.
Ghibli Goes Hybrid
Maserati’s entry into the hybrid space is via its relatively new entrant, the Ghibli, which was relaunched in 2013 as a 3L V6. With its coupe-like styling and detailed nuances, it cut a fine figure and continued the reputation for stylish Italian design sensibilities.
With a team of 100 involved in its development, the Ghibli Hybrid is now adding a liberal dose of responsible driving to the mix.
Its philosophy as far as taking the hybrid route is simple: Faster than diesel, greener than gasoline.
The new 4-cylinder, 2L hybrid configuration, in conjunction with the 48V motor, provides 243kW of power; an overall performance that is purer than its predecessor. Despite reduced fuel consumption figures, it still only gets a C2 VES banding in LTA’s grading system for emissions. The surcharges for the C1 and C2 bands will go up from 1 July.
A newish front, with the trident logo set against a vertical grille creates a strong presence. As the metal flows towards the rear, it bends and sculpts itself into an appealing form, ending off with a boomerang cluster of lights. The sweet proportions and sharp shaping promise a lot, if its looks are as good as its performance.
Set yourself down in the comfortably accommodating tan seat with 12-way adjustment, and a nicely laid out interior invites you to explore the Ghibli Hybrid. Hit the start button and hear that sweet engine roar — all natural, insists Maserati.
After announcing its presence, it soon settles into a contented growl as you take off. The palpable sense of exhilaration as the Ghibli Hybrid pulls away in sport mode urges you to keep up with it.
0-100 in 5.7 seconds is not wickedly fast, but the 8-speed ZF automatic transmission smoothly shifts the gears along. If you feel like taking control, the large paddle shifters are easily accessible.
In manual mode, the system shifts at the red line, so you can focus on the road ahead. Would have been nice to have a head up display.
Taken through some twists and turns, the car functions as expected but the sensations are a bit muted for the driver, possibly with all the safety features kicking in like an over-protective mother. A less dampened and more involved experience would have been welcomed.
Maybe that greater involvement can be enjoyed in the higher Gransport variant of the Ghibli Hybrid, which has a Skyhook suspension system where all four dampers can be electronically controlled independently, allowing the driver to choose between comfort and sport springs. Just that it takes up to 8 months to have that delivered.
Meanwhile, the ride in the entry-level Ghibli Hybrid is stable and the comfort levels are maintained, regardless of the drive mode selected. In the energy-saving I.C.E. (not to be confused with the Internal Combustion Engine) mode the Ghibli Hybrid is a bit sluggish before picking up the pace.
The mix of steel and aluminium alloys in the chassis and the weight distribution — the engine to the fore and battery to the rear — helps to keep things steady.
Coming to a halt is a swift and smooth process, the ventilated Brembo dual cast brakes brings the Ghibli Hybrid to a stop from 100kmh in 35.5 metres, with the assistance of a slew of safety features.
The Ghibli Hybrid’s shape and performance will appeal to a wide cross-section of customers. Priced at $338,800, for the base model which the distributor, Tridente Automobili has brought in, the finishing is in keeping with the price tag.
The comfortable leather is contrasted and complemented by Radica open-pore wood veneers, and quality materials and stitching that add to the luxurious feel of the cabin.
The dashboard offers a range of information and easily connects with your smartphone, which can be conveniently slotted into a climate-controlled compartment that also offers wireless charging. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are on offer, providing access to your apps, via a 10.1” touchscreen.
Unlike many car brands that are moving most functions to the screen, there is still an aluminium double rotary knob to control the excellent 280W Harmon Kardon set up which brings music to life.
Sweet sounds to complement that engaging engine note, and a fine way for Maserati to mark its place in the electric race.
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