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2021 Maserati Ghibli Trofeo adds substance to style

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2021 Maserati Ghibli Trofeo

Maseratis seem to put form over function, so I haven’t understood their appeal. But the 2021 Maserati Ghibli Trofeo adds some substance to back up its flash, and I had the feeling it would worm its way into my heart.

The Trofeo (trophy) models are the fastest, baddest, and most expensive models in the Maserati lineup, and this year the Ghibli and Quattroporte get their own versions with the same engine found in the Levante Trofeo: a 580-hp, 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 making 538 lb-ft of torque. That’s exciting because the Ghibli is the smallest and lightest Maserati, so it can make the best use of that prodigious power.

For a high-performance variant, styling is rather subdued. The Ghibli Trofeo has a small Trofeo badge on each fender, small bits of color for accents (such as the green/white/red Italian trim on the B-pillar), and functional hood vents. The easiest way to pick it out might be the noise from the V-8 as the car sprints away.

I was introduced to the Ghibli Trofeo at one of my favorite places: Willow Springs Raceway in the high California desert. An afternoon complete with a series of hard launches, a slalom course, and laps around the big track were enough to paint a pretty complete picture of the Ghibli Trofeo’s performance potential, which is considerable.

2021 Maserati Ghibli Trofeo

Easy power, easy speed

Maserati designed the Trofeo engine, but it’s built and assembled by Ferrari at its factory in Maranello, Italy, since Maserati does not have an engine manufacturing plant (though that looks to be changing soon for the MC20). It’s mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. 

Many of the Ghibli Trofeo’s contemporaries, such as the BMW M5 and Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, opt for all-wheel drive systems that can put down power more cleanly. I like Maserati’s choice to go exclusively with rear-wheel drive. While it does sacrifice some off-the-line speed (that’s why the larger and heavier Levante Trofeo is faster from 0-60 mph), I absolutely love the throwback feel of these rear-drive machines. Aim for an early apex to let the engine wind out on corner exit, and the Ghibli Trofeo is at its finest.

The powertrain delivers its power quickly and smoothly. On the track, it was easy to modulate the throttle to get the exact amount of push I was looking for, which is especially important on Willow Springs’ ample supply of long, high-speed sweepers that require you to carry just the right amount of speed. Too much power or an uneven application of the throttle and it’s easy to find the gravel.

The electronically adaptive suspension also worked hard at each corner to maintain balance, which inspired confidence. These systems can sometimes overly numb the driving experience, but this one retained enough feel and rigidity that I felt in tune with the car.

The slalom course did make me wish for some added sharpness in the steering. The nose lacks the immediate turn-in response you find in cars such as the Giulia Quadrifoglio or BMW M2 Competition. But beyond that, it was hard to find fault from a performance perspective. Turns out that a solid suspension and 580 hp is a simple recipe for a good time.

2021 Maserati Ghibli Trofeo

2021 Maserati Ghibli Trofeo

2021 Maserati Ghibli Trofeo

2021 Maserati Ghibli Trofeo

2021 Maserati Ghibli Trofeo

2021 Maserati Ghibli Trofeo

Ready for launch

Another addition for 2021 is a Corsa (race) driving mode that includes launch control. It’s one of the easiest to use launch control systems I’ve encountered as these systems can sometimes require menus and submenus galore. While the car is in Corsa, simply pull back on the left shift paddle twice, step on the brake until an indicator registers enough braking force, and floor the accelerator. Release the brake pedal, the tires give a slight squawk, and mayhem is unleashed. The Ghibli Trofeo will accelerate from 0-60 mph in 4.0 seconds, though the suddenness with which it unleashes its power makes it feel even quicker than that from the driver’s seat.

Lifting off the throttle or the brake prematurely shuts off the launch control system and the tires spin in 1st, 2nd, and perhaps even 3rd gears. Corsa turns off all of the car’s electric nannies completely. This mode should only be used on the track and and by those who really know what they are doing behind the wheel; even during our hot laps, I left the car in Sport mode with the suspension fully stiffened and the traction control and stability control engaged, though with looser settings, in the name of safety. 

I do wish, however, that Maserati would add a customizable driving mode, which could let drivers choose Corsa’s transmission, steering, and suspension settings but keep the ESC and traction control active. That would be my goldilocks setting for the track or the right twisty road.

2021 Maserati Ghibli Trofeo

2021 Maserati Ghibli Trofeo

An interior to match

The front seats left me wishing for some extra bolstering on the track. They are quite comfortable, though, and they would help make the Ghibli Trofeo an able, though thirsty, daily driver. The fuel economy numbers are a low at 13 mpg city, 20 highway, and 16 combined mpg. 

Otherwise, the Ghibli Trofeo has a high end interior that befits its price, with soft leather in almost every crevice. An available interior carbon-fiber package adds giant column-mounted paddle shifters and door sills made of carbon fiber, which join a center console that’s already mostly made of the light stuff. The steering wheel feels a smidge too large for my taste, but it didn’t get in the way while driving on the track. However, for taller drivers, head room can be tight while wearing a helmet.

With a standard 10.1-inch touchscreen that replaces the old 8.4-inch unit, the infotainment system is quite easy to use, a benefit of Maserati’s relationship with the former FCA. The system’s processing power, memory, and resolution have all improved this year. The Android based operating system is extremely fast and it never got bogged down. Even switching between Android Auto and the native system was instantaneous—something I haven’t seen before. Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility are also standard now, as are over-the-air updates for the system and a wireless charging pad tucked up under the climate controls.

2021 Maserati Ghibli Trofeo

2021 Maserati Ghibli Trofeo

2021 Maserati Ghibli Trofeo

2021 Maserati Ghibli Trofeo

2021 Maserati Ghibli Trofeo

2021 Maserati Ghibli Trofeo

I finally get it

The 2021 Ghibli Trofeo starts at $111,385 (including a $1,495 destination charge), and my test vehicle checked in at $117,485. That’s a hefty price for the car to justify, but after an afternoon with it and a quick jaunt in a Ghibli SQ4 to do a deeper dive into the multimedia system, it felt worth the money—as much as a six-figure car can.

The Ghibli Trofeo’s styling, performance, well-integrated technology, and playful attitude left me rather smitten. It nimbly skirts the line between luxury and performance, conflicting parts of its nature somehow existing in appealing harmony. I don’t back down from my previous feelings about Maserati, but I’m glad that this car changed my mind.

Maserati provided a day at the track in the Ghibli Trofeo for Internet Brands Automotive to bring you this firsthand report.

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Autos

Turn back time with this retro 2021 Ford F-150

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2021 BFP Retro Ford F-150

After launching a retro design package for the Ford F-150 about two years ago, Ohio dealership Beechmont Ford is back with another version for the redesigned 2021 F-150.

First spotted by Motor1, the 2021 BFP Retro Ford F-150 features basically the same ingredients as before, including a two-tone vinyl wrap, retro 17-inch wheels wrapped in 35-inch all-terrain tires, and a 3.5-inch lift kit. A chrome bed rack and KC Hi Lights complete the look. The default Satin Pearl wrap can also be substituted for actual paint.

While the previous retro F-150 was based on the XLT trim level, the 2021 model shown here is based on the higher-level Lariat model. You can still get the retro package on an XLT, or a different 2021 F-150 trim level should you desire. Beechmont Ford does recommend the factory Chrome Package, which matches the bed rack and polished wheels.

2021 BFP Retro Ford F-150

Beechmont is asking for a $500 deposit on the package. Customers must order their trucks directly from Ford and specify delivery to Beechmont, which will then add the retro extras.

The dealership noted that wait times are longer than usual due to the global microchip shortage, which has heavily impacted truck production. It’s currently estimating a six-month wait time for delivery.

Beechmont doesn’t just do retro trucks. This is also the dealership that began offering a 750-hp supercharged Ford Mustang for $44,994 last year. Beechmont takes a stock 5.0-liter V-8 Mustang GT and adds a Roush Phase 2 supercharger, which is normally a $7,999 item on its own. You even get a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty.

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Should you use racing oil in your road car?

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Ford Mustang NASCAR Xfinity Series race car

Every part of a modern race car is optimized to extract maximum performance—including the fluids that go into it. Specialized racing oil is a must in the paddock, but is it a good idea to use that in your road car?

“Engineering Explained” host Jason Fenske answers that question in this video, talking to engineers from Mobil1 (which also sponsored the video), engine builder Roush Yates Engines, and NASCAR team Stewart-Haas Racing.

First off, Fenske emphasizes that racing engines don’t have much in common with road-car engines. Pushrod V-8s like the ones used in NASCAR disappeared from the average American car decades ago, and racing engines in general have a very different duty cycle. They’re flogged (a NASCAR V-8 can rev to 10,000 rpm and spend 90% to 95% of a race at full throttle), but also have fairly short maintenance intervals. NASCAR engines have their oil changed about every 500 miles and are only expected to last about 1,500 miles, Fenske noted.

 

Ford Mustang NASCAR Xfinity Series race car

NASCAR oil is also fairly unrestricted (rules can vary by race series), giving teams more leeway to look for competitive advantages, Fenske said. Teams tend to use thinner-weight oils to reduce frictional losses and maximize power. That’s not great for longevity but, remember, the engine only needs to last 1,500 miles. Road-car engines, on the other hand, are expected to last hundreds of thousands of miles, so that kind of tradeoff isn’t possible.

Racing oils and road-car oils do have some commonalities, though. They use a lot of the same additives, such as detergents, dispersants, anti-foaming agents, antioxidants, and rust inhibitors, Fenske noted.

However, the difference is in the details. Oils used for road cars are designed to meet a long list of regulations and requirements set down by individual automakers. In NASCAR where, again, rules governing oil are fairly loose, teams can optimize an oil for one specific engine design. It’s really that process that makes racing oil work, and it’s just not practical for individual road cars. Unless you have your own laboratory and a lot of patience, at least.

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Bugatti Chiron Super Sport, 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid, 2022 Ford Maverick: This Week’s Top Photos

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Tesla Model S Plaid specs

Bugatti this week launched a new variant of the Chiron packing 1,578 hp. It’s related to the recent Chiron Super Sport 300+ but features a lower top speed and tuning that prioritizes comfort.

Tesla Model S Plaid specs

If you’re looking for a car that accelerates quicker to 60 mph than the Bugatti above, look no further than the 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid. The electric super hatch started deliveries this week, and owners can look forward to 0-60 times in less than two seconds and a quarter-mile ET of a bit over nine.

2022 Toyota Land Cruiser

2022 Toyota Land Cruiser

A new Toyota Land Cruiser was revealed this week, the iconic off-roader’s first redesign in more than a decade. It features a new platform as well as twin-turbo V-6 power, and while it won’t be sold in the United States its hardware should end up in a redesigned Lexus LX.

2022 BMW X3 M Competition

2022 BMW X3 M Competition

BMW unveiled updated versions of its X3 and X4 small crossovers. The updates extend to the high-performance M versions which also benefit from a boost in torque figures for the Competition models. A redesigned BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe also made headlines.

2022 Ford Maverick

2022 Ford Maverick

Ford unveiled a compact pickup truck that goes by the name Maverick. It’s essentially a twin under the skin with the Bronco Sport, and it’s headed to showrooms shortly with standard hybrid power and a base price of about $20,000.

2022 Volkswagen Multivan

2022 Volkswagen Multivan

Another new vehicle in the headlines this week was Volkswagen’s T7-generation van, which debuted in passenger-oriented Multivan guise. Unlike the T6 generation, which uses a dedicated van platform, the T7 has moved to the more car-like MQB platform shared with multiple models sold by Volkswagen Group brands.

2022 Ferrari V-6 hybrid supercar spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2022 Ferrari V-6 hybrid supercar spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

And finally, Ferrari was spotted testing its upcoming V-6-powered supercar. The new model will feature a mid-engine layout and hybrid technology, making it a rival to the recently revealed McLaren Artura.

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