Maserati is currently in a transitional period. Since 2020, the Italian carmaker has introduced three new models, the MC20, Grecale, and Gran Turismo.
During a chat with the Head of Maserati Americas, William Peffer Jr., during this year’s Monterey Car Week, he confirmed that these models represent where the brand is heading. He spoke of a future where the brand’s cars become synonymous with quality, reliability, and excitement.
Earlier this year, I tested the first of these new-era products, the MC20. I was genuinely impressed with it too. It’s a serious player in the supercar space and proved to me that the carmaker is serious about its future. The flip side of this situation, however, is that it is still producing cars from its previous era, and while they may be nearing the end of their life cycle, they’re still the cars that compete with their segments very best.
A great example of this is the 2022 Maserati Ghibli Trofeo. Its recipe is a relatively simple one. Maserati took its smallest sedan and packed a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V8 under its hood to create a new high-performance trim. Given its on-paper stats, I expected the Ghibli Trofeo to be quite the athlete. A 580-hp Ferrari-derived V8 sure sounds like a recipe for success. In practice, however, the Ghibli Trofeo just doesn’t handle as well as its closest rivals. Inside, it still uses switchgear from much cheaper Stellantis products, making its $122,000 base price a tough pill to swallow.
One thing no one can take away from the 2022 Maserati Ghibli Trofeo is that it is a great-looking sedan. It’s all about proportions, and despite having four doors, the Ghibli serves up a long hood, bulging wheel arches, and a sloping roofline that’s unique in its segment. It still wears the brand’s signature front grille with a sizable trident logo in the center, but it’s nicely proportioned with its LED headlights and lower front intakes, leading to a front fascia that has aged remarkably well over the past nine model years.
As this is the Trofeo, it gets a few unique touches, such as its set of 21-inch wheels, red brake calipers, and red Trofeo badging on its front fenders. My tester featured a distinctive stripe livery reminiscent of a Ferrari SF90 Assetto Fiorano. Thankfully, the Trofeo is available without it. A dark Blu Maserati exterior finish with plenty of flake sets off those red accents and provides a nice contrast. This paint has to be seen under direct sunlight to be appreciated.
Out back, even the Trofeo keeps things relatively simple with a set of face-lifted tail lights, quad exhaust tips, and a central carbon-fiber diffuser. Overall, the Ghibli Trofeo is recognizable as the sedan’s most special variant, but it doesn’t need to shout. It’s not overly aggressive or wears prominent aero elements. For a six-figure sedan, it’s reasonably understated and elegant.
Anyone even remotely considering a Maserati Ghibli Trofeo will likely do so because of its engine. It’s a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V8 with prancing-horse roots. It develops 580 hp at 6,750 rpm, and 538 lb-ft at 2,250 rpm. That’s enough to propel this 4,453-lb sedan to 60 mph in four seconds before continuing onto its 203 mph top speed. The Trofeo is the only variant to include a launch control system out of the Ghibli’s entire lineup.
Judging by those stats alone, the Trofeo should be a proper athlete on the road, and unfortunately, it just isn’t. Take its Ferrari-derived V8, for starters. It delivers boatloads of torque down low in the rev range, which should result in quick acceleration. However, the ZF eight-speed transmission is slow to upshift and downshift and generally doesn’t react as quickly as the engine. It results in a car that doesn’t feel as quick as its power figures suggest. That’s a pity because this ZF box is excellent in other sports sedans like the BMW M3 Competition.
Through a twisty road, the Ghibli Trofeo doesn’t shoot out of corners as quickly as competitors like the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S or BMW M5. There’s noticeable lag as the turbos begin to spool, and its transmission decides what gear it needs. Shifting manually improves performance, but only marginally, as there’s still a delay. This transmission redeems itself around town. When driving normally, its shifts are nearly imperceptible, smooth, and quick. It may struggle to run up a fast road, but the Trofeo nails the daily commute.
Its steering is a similar story. On a twisty road, it’s not very quick or precise. There’s noticeable slack, which isn’t helped by the lack of feedback. Around town, however, it’s effortless and light, disconnecting its driver from annoying road imperfections. The more miles I covered in the Ghibli Trofeo, the more I realized I didn’t want to drive it quickly on a back road. Instead, it’s best thought of as a beautiful Italian muscle car, which is ideal for most driving situations.
Suspension-wise, my Trofeo tester featured the brand’s Skyhook suspension system, which independently adjusts each shock absorber depending on the driving condition. These come into play as you engage the suspension button in the center console. Around town, the Ghibli is plush in a way its competitors aren’t. One benefit of not being the most hardcore sedan is that it can soften itself up considerably. A comparable Mercedes-AMG or BMW is always stiff, regardless of drive mode.
The Ghibli Trofeo can stiffen up for sportier driving scenarios, but not significantly. There’s less body roll, but it doesn’t corner flat. What it lacks in outright speed, the Ghibli makes up with playfulness. There’s still movement through corners which results in excitement behind the wheel. Its competitors are indeed quicker, but they dial things to the point where they aren’t nearly as fun as they should be.
Despite four massive exhaust tips flanking that subtle rear diffuser, there isn’t much sound coming from them. A noticeable low-end grunt comes on as you engage Sport mode, but even then, it’s noticeably quiet. I know how good this engine sounds. I just wish I could hear it more.
Inside, the Maserati Ghibli Trofeo is a stark reminder of the brand’s transitional period. Having spent time up close with the Grecale and Gran Turismo, I know Maserati focuses on quality with its latest products. You look around, and it isn’t immediately apparent that you’re looking at shared switchgear. Those new cars feel special. The Ghibli Trofeo, on the other hand, offers one too many reminders of other Stellantis products.
There’s a surprising amount of plastic switchgear for a six-figure sports sedan, from the window switches, steering wheel buttons, and climate controls on the dash. It’s not that its competitors don’t follow a similar formula, but at least they dress them up with glossy finishes or hide them with updated trim.
Thankfully, the rest of the interior features much nicer materials. For example, my tester featured a carbon fiber center console and seats wrapped in woven leather I’ve never seen before. It’s the kind of thing that makes an interior look special. It’s unique, and despite offering a more intricate texture, the leather is soft to the touch and plenty comfortable to sit in. The seats are great, too, with plenty of adjustability and enough cushioning for a long drive. These chairs only build on the foundation laid by the soft suspension mentioned earlier.
Tech-wise, there’s an analog gauge cluster with a seven-inch screen in the center. Compared to its rivals, it’s a bit behind the times, but I’m a big fan of analog displays, and this one features excellent finishing and graphics. In the center, you’ll find a 10.1-inch touchscreen that houses the car’s infotainment system, which offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. It’s sizable, responsive, and features vibrant colors.
The 2022 Maserati Ghibli Trofeo starts at $122,000. However, my tester and its optional extras, such as its contrasting stripe, interior carbon fiber, and exterior finish, raise its price to just under $140,000. For context, a V6-powered Ghibli GT starts at $85,300. This places the Trofeo’s base price above competitors such as the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S ($107,500), BMW M5 ($107,900), and Audi RS 7 ($119,595).
The 2022 Ghibli Trofeo takes a bit of adjusting to understand. Look at it squarely as a sports sedan, and it can’t go toe to toe with its closest competitors. However, it delivers as a quick, comfortable, and beautiful daily driver. Part of its appeal is that it isn’t your typical Mercedes-AMG, BMW, or Audi. It looks, sounds, and drives quite differently.
We can’t, however, ignore its sizable price tag, which I suspect is significantly impacted by the addition of that Ferrari V8. It’s tough to justify that sum for a car that isn’t as quick or capable as its competitors. Additionally, its interior build quality just doesn’t feel like that of a six-figure sedan. The Ghibli’s interior has been around for nine model years, and despite a refresh, it feels like it.
Thankfully, Maserati is clearly focused on the future, and its upcoming products reflect that. An unintentional effect of this transitional period is that its newest cars showcase the flaws of its oldest, but I’m confident that based on what I’ve seen thus far, Maserati’s next era will be a great one.