MASERATI has introduced its first car driven by a hybrid powerplant, but devotees of the Italian car maker have little to be skeptical about as the Ghibli Hybrid still delivers on the performance front and boasts the full engine roar as an accompaniment.
With a top speed of 158mph and a 0-62mph sprint time of 5.7 seconds, the Ghibli Hybrid is built around a modified version of the V6 model.
It features a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine delivering 330hp and 450Nm of torque, plus a 48-volt hybrid system that allows energy to be captured when braking or slowing down. So it really is a case of mild hybrid technology.
The vehicle is on sale in trim levels called Ghibli Hybrid GranLusso, which is more luxury based, or GranSport, which as the name suggests is more aggressive looking, both costing £65,100.
And any concerns that a view towards a cleaner future would impact upon the Maserati's desire factors are swiftly dismissed with one glance in the Ghibli Hybrid's direction. It still possesses all the strong, muscular styling traits that have made the Italian car maker such a desired brand over the years.
And the latest rear-wheel-drive, four-door saloon still maintains its full appeal despite some styling tweaks. The Ghibli Hybrid has a number of details in dark blue - the colour universally adopted as the symbol of clean mobility. There are blue coloured air intakes, brakes and even the trident emblem is underlined by a blue flash.
The car also debuts a new grille which is finished in chrome on GranLusso trim or more aggressive black on the GranSport versions. There's new boomerang styled rear light clusters, sleek coupe-like streamlining, a sculpted bonnet, black alloy wheels and twin tailpipes.
We sampled the Ghibli Hybrid GranSport model with sports seats that have 12-way power adjustment and memory function, a sport steering wheel with huge gearshift paddles, sport pedals. This model also features a sport-specific bumper with piano black inserts.
The new-look interior gains an upgraded infotainment system that sits neatly within the dashboard and offers clean, sharp graphics.
Customers also get Maserati Connect with three years free services and Alexa integrated into the system. It can be used for updates about servicing, emergency and roadside assistance and tracking a stolen vehicle. The onboard maps are fully updated throughout the three years and there is a complementary Wi-Fi hotspot to connect up to eight devices.
Maserati engineers have ditched the conventional alternator and replaced it with a belt-driven starter motor that recovers energy when coasting or braking. This in turn charges the battery. There is the addition of an eBooster unit that is charged via the battery and works as a back-up to the conventional turbocharger, working in tandem for extra torque at low revs.
Although the Ghibli Hybrid seems initially to lack some of the brutal firepower of previous models, it is still very much a driver's car. The acceleration through the eight-speed automatic gearbox is sharp and there is ample power for short bursts of pace to overtake slower vehicles.
The road holding is ultra-grippy meaning tight bends can be attacked with confidence and the steering wheel paddles, along with a Sport driving mode, are there for added driver engagement. The electric power steering has improved the car's handling with plenty of driver feedback.
The cabin is well-insulated against outside road surface and wind noise, and the new Skyhook suspension system is geared towards comfort until you press the suspension button when the ride becomes much firmer.
Despite the fuel-saving, economy-driven hybrid technology, don't expect a dramatic improvement in running costs as the Ghibli Hybrid delivers a combined 30.1-34.9mpg with carbon emissions of 213g/km.
Rear leg room inside the Ghibli Hybrid is quite restricted too, especially if the front seats are pushed back too far. But that is the norm for a coupe-styled saloon car so you wouldn't be buying it with large family holidays in mind. The boot is practical and can swallow 500 litres of kit and there is also a deep central cubby box, a compartment by the driver's right knee, covered trays, seat back nets, door bins and a glovebox to hide away bits and pieces.
Safety systems are comprehensive too with the Maserati Stability Program for extra balance, lane keeping assist, active driving assist, active blind spot assist, traffic sign recognition, advanced brake assist, forward collision warning and lots more besides.
All in all, Maserati has little choice but to venture down the hybrid technology route, but whether it will win over the die-hard V6 and V8 fans that have been such loyal followers, remains to be seen.