Electrification is inevitable for cars, so I’m taking every opportunity to create experiences in and collect memories of automotive technology I have grown up loving.
Top of that list is the sheer diving pleasure of a whip-fast internal combustion machine, the latest iteration of which I enjoyed recently in the form of a triple whammy – the three cars that make up Maserati’s Trofeo Collection.
“Trofeo”, translating as trophy in Italian, means these cars represent the fastest ever to hit the road from Italy’s iconic Three Trident brand. The Trofeo range is identified by the red details of the side air vents and the lightning bolt on the Trident badge on the C-pillars.
The two more expensive cars in the triumvirate – the Levante SUV and the Quattroporte saloon – impress with their sheer luxury and appointments. But it’s the smallest of the three, the Ghibli Trofeo, which is a standout for me because of its comparative performance around the Sydney Motorsport Park race track. Which I’ll get to in a minute.
The Ghibli made its Australian debut in 2014 with a 3.0-litre V6 engine. Well, that seven-year itch has been well and truly scratched as the 2021 Ghibli Trofeo comes with a Ferrari-built 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 under the bonnet.
The same engine is shared across the Trofeo range but in this lighter, sleeker, less unwieldy body the Maserati spirit cuts loose on the track and shown to best effect.
According to Maserati, both the Ghibli Trofeo and Quattroporte Trofeo can proudly claim to be the fastest Maserati sedans ever, with a top speed of 203mph, while the Levante Trofeo maxes out at 188 mph.
The departing COO of Maserati Australia and New Zealand, Glen Sealey, says the Trofeo Collection is a predicator of big things to come from the brand in future.
“These vehicles are the start of a product onslaught from Maserati over the coming months as the brand enters a new era,” Sealey says.
Despite the race towards electric cars – or perhaps because of it – there are a couple of things about the Trofeo Collection that may make these cars attractive to collectors.
First, there’s that V8 engine, expected to be the last that Ferrari will build for Maserati given the relationship between the two Emiglia-Romagna-based companies has come to an end.
Future engines will be 100 per cent Maserati-designed and built, such as the 3.0-litre V6 “Nettuno” engine in Maserati’s outstanding MC20.
Then there’s the simple fact that there are very few automotive brands these days launching new sedans with V8 engines. Maserati points out that, instead, we’re seeing engine size and number of cylinders ever decreasing as stricter emissions standards come into play. Technology advances (including electrification) also allow greater efficiency and output to be achieved from smaller capacity engines.
A spokesman cites as “an interesting example” the Mercedes-AMG C 63 – a vehicle which once came with a 6.3-litre V8, since reduced to a 4.0-litre V8 and soon to have a very advanced 4-cylinder Hybrid.
The V8 in these Trofeo’s incorporate’s the brand’s Integrated Vehicle Control system, the setup of which guarantees enhanced driving dynamics, better safety and an even more thrilling performance, according to Maserati.
Having driven them all on the track, I can vouch for that.
But the Ghibli Trofeo won the day given how nimble and responsive it was. Launching into the main straight, it let out that wonderful Maserati roar and poured on thrilling levels of power. Even at 240km/h then heavily on the brakes heading into Turn One, it clearly still had more to give.
A very collectable memory indeed.