CAR (UK)

If Ferrari built an M5…

Most powerful Ghibli uses a Ferrari-sourced V8 to unforgetta­ble e ect

- GEORG KACHER

What a parting gift. This 3.8-litre V8 is the last Ferrari engine that will be used by Maserati now that the two companies, once so close, are going their separate ways. The home-brewed replacemen­ts that will debut in the MC20 will doubtless be pretty special, but they won’t be this.

The twin-turbo V8 has previously appeared in the Levante Trofeo, and is now available in both of Maserati’s saloons – the larger Quattropor­te and this, the roughly BMW M5/AMG E63-sized Ghibli. It’s quite a leap up from the V6s and hybrid four that power the rest of the Ghibli range. And it’s a great engine: powerful, torquey, clever, vocal and eŒcient. There’s a fantastic torque explosion that hammers out 539lb ft from 2250 to 5250rpm. Goosebumps and white knuckles guaranteed.

Like the Quattropor­te, the current Ghibli dates back to 2013. The Ghibli is nimbler, marginally quicker and even more tail-happy, especially in Trofeo form. On fast A-roads its performanc­e is highly usable, aided by the long-legged eight-speed ZF automatic transmissi­on. However, traction is not one of the Trofeo’s fortes – due to the front-biased weight distributi­on and the accordingl­y rather lightly laden rear axle – and nor is turn-in grip reassuring; blame the fact that the front suspension geometry cannot accommodat­e wide enough tyres.

This imbalance makes for a rather entertaini­ng handling attitude: you must press on to conquer the initial understeer, but not too much, or oversteer crashes the party like a runaway ’gator, at least when ESP is deactivate­d.

Now on its second facelift, the 2021 Ghibli has new rear lights that nod towards the classic boomerang design, plus an infotainme­nt upgrade. The Trofeo adds carbon detailing in the cabin and, more subtly, on the air intakes, plus 21-inch wheels and Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes, and vents on the bonnet. It also gets a Corsa mode which acts as a wider-meshed safety net arbitratin­g between Sport and ESP Off settings.

Even on smooth roads and on the track, the Ghibli Trofeo cannot quite mask genetic

flaws like the weight of 1969kg, the nose-heavy posture and the oddball Skyhook adaptive suspension. Turn off to explore backroads and going fast becomes a multiple-front fight between g-forces, vertical irritation­s and grip-veeringt0-slip issues, and often with very little room for error. On any given journey your mood is likely to swing wildly between heroic and hopeless.

Without that Ferrari engine, the Ghibli Trofeo would probably rank exactly nowhere on the desirabili­ty hot list. But there’s no doubt about it: this is one of the last proper drama queens on wheels money can buy.

First verdict

A great engine in an entertaini­ng package, but hard to argue that this is the best way to spend more than £100k on a saloon #####

 ??  ?? Trofeo version gains carbon details in and out
Trofeo version gains carbon details in and out
 ??  ??

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