First Drive

Maserati Ghibli Hybrid GranSport 2021 review

Generally, though, it’s a decent driving environment, with a scattering of storage cubbies on the dash, and very small door pockets. It’s better to be in the front than the back, where rear leg room is ungenerous for a 4.97m-long car.

The engine drives through an eight-speed automatic gearbox to the back wheels only. And the drivetrain is effective. The engine revs to 6500 and is quiet on little throttle, with a slightly raspy noise with a bit of whoosh and whine overlaid as you ask for more urge.

It’s nothing like as sonorous as a six-cylinder, or anything else that might scream Maserati, but it’s responsive, particularly so from low revs, where the ‘eBooster’ does its thing. Peak torque, 332lb ft of it, is at 4000rpm but it becomes urgent at far fewer revs. You can take control of the gears yourself but it doesn’t add much on the road, given the ample torque. Stick the drivetrain into Sport mode and you get a bit more noise as it holds on to lower gears for longer, but as soon as you’re at a cruising speed, you’ll probably pop it back in Normal again. At a cruise, it’ll hit 40mpg; in mixed driving, more like 30mpg.

The measures to balance the weight distribution sound quite promising – as though this will be an analogue driver’s saloon. And you wonder if it could be, had it been tuned better. The ingredients are there and, underneath it all, you can detect there’s the makings of a decent driver’s car.

As it is, it neither rides with the deftness of a true executive saloon nor has the agility or involvement of a sporty one. The Giulia of sibling company Alfa Romeo rather shows it how it’s done (in a smaller and less luxurious package, I grant you). Here, there’s a thump to the underlying ride, and steering that does little more than turn the wheels. There’s a nothingness to the steering, no build-up of weight, but conversely no oily smoothness, either.

I’m not sure quite what it wants to be and it ends up a slightly characterless driver’s car as a result. To its credit, the ride is quiet and body control is fine. There’s a firm damping mode but, by gum, you don’t need it. I’d almost say it’s pleasant enough – but at £58,500 to £70,270, just being pleasant isn’t enough.

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