Maserati Ghibli Trofeo
The opportunity to spend time with this characterful Italian supersaloon is an offer you can’t refuse
IMAGINE THE MASERATI MC20 OF supersaloons. Unique, understated, deeply esoteric and characterful but underpinned with dazzling dynamics that match or even exceed those of the nearest rivals. A quieter, more discreet BMW M5 CS that exudes confidence and class and a bit of sun-dappled mafioso murderous cool. Well, the Ghibli Trofeo is most definitely not that car. It’s pretty cool, that’s for sure. However, this is a car hopelessly outclassed by the aforementioned M5 CS or, for that matter, an M5 Competition or AMG E63. If all three started a lap of the Nürburgring at the same time, the two Germans would be lapping the Maser by Brünnchen. If it was wet it would be more like Hatzenbach. A true mafia-style bloodbath.
And yet over the course of a few weeks on cold, greasy roads in Northamptonshire I rather grew to like the big Maser. In truth, it doesn’t feel like a proper supersaloon. There just isn’t the body control, the agility nor the ultimate grip and traction. Instead it’s a bit of a cruiser that happens to have a wicked turn of speed and an amusing taste for gratuitous, chronic and, at times, unexpected wheelspin and oversteer.
So every journey becomes a curious juxtaposition of mellow wafting laced with sudden bursts of heartthumping adrenaline. The Ghibli Trofeo is many things but you could never accuse it of being boring.
The engine is really rather wonderful. When summoned, the 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 delivers monster torque and a deliciously snargly top-end. The noise isn’t digitally mastered like an AMG engine’s nor as smooth and revvy as the M5 motor, and the slightly less polished character feels very Maseratiappropriate. As does the oddly, um, idiosyncratic way certain things work. For example, the heated steering wheel symbol is on the left-hand side of the touchscreen, just next to the heated seat control for the passenger seat. You’d think flipping those graphics for right-hand drive wouldn’t be too difficult, but I suspect there was an important cup of coffee to drink that day. Or an emergency cigarette situation.
Perhaps a few days were skipped on the chassis side, too. In Normal mode the ride is pretty good but the Ghibli does feel heavy and tends to float between bumps. Sport is better but the ride feels fidgety and unsettled. Corsa brings more noise and throttle response but now the car feels oddly brittle; body control is much better contained but the equilibrium is easily shattered and the Trofeo shimmies and shakes over the road surface. You can drive through these issues and find pretty good balance, but in cold, greasy conditions there’s just not the feel and fluidity to really drive hard. You sense that moment when the car just slithers wide is never too far away.
Writing all that down reminds me that I shouldn’t like this car at all. But I do. Could I recommend it over one of the more conventional rivals?
I don’t think so. It’s just too far off the pace in too many areas. Yet there’s character and warmth in abundance, a sense of occasion and, most of all, it just puts a smile on your face. I’d happily look after it for another few weeks. Supersaloons are just the best invention ever, aren’t they?
Date acquired November 2022 Total mileage 12,025 Mileage this month 701 Costs this month £0 mpg this month 23.1