2024 Maserati Ghibli 334 Ultima Is Part Absurd Powertrain, Part Dated Platform, And All Fun

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2024 Maserati Ghibli 334 Ultima Is Part Absurd Powertrain, Part Dated Platform, And All Fun

The Maserati Ghibli has been the butt of depreciation jokes and Chrysler partsbin jokes since its debut in 2013, but the new Ghibli 334 Ultima manages to refocus the narrative. All it took was squeezing a twin-turbocharged V8 under the hood that sounds like all three of Cerberus’ heads harmonizing. Unfortunately, the Ghibli 334 Ultima is the swan song for Maserati’s legendary V8, alongside the Levante V8 Ultima which shares the same engine. As we inch closer to what is most likely the death of gas guzzlers, even Maserati must say ciao to the eight-cylinder engine layout it first produced in 1959.

Full disclosure: Maserati loaned me the Ghibli 334 Ultima for four days, my first ever press car. I went through two and a half tanks of gas while driving this enchanting Italian. I laughed maniacally, I screamed my head off, and I scared the crap out of my friends.

A photo showing the 334 graphics just ahead of the front doors on the fender and the 21-inch wheel

Photo: Logan K. Carter

I’m going to get the bad stuff out of the way first. As spec’d, my press car had an MSRP of $165,000 plus $1,495 destination. As spec’d, my press car did not have any of the following features: heated seats, ventilated seats, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, lane departure warning, a panoramic sunroof, ambient lighting, or soft-close doors. I was dumbfounded when I realized all of the features missing from this car at that price — but that was before I drove it.

Driving the Ghibli 334 Ultima is a unique experience. In Normal mode, it feels like a big heavy sedan with incredibly sensitive brakes. Cruising on the freeway is easy, but not as easy as it would be with adaptive cruise. To get a big reaction out of the powertrain, I have to dig pretty deep into the gas pedal. In Normal mode, the exhaust is more subdued than Sport mode’s instant snarl, but when the RPMs rise there’s no stopping the bellow from the Ferrari-derived 3.8-liter V8 under the hood. Want snappier throttle responses? Press the Sport button and gird your loins.

An under-hood shot showing the beautiful Maserati V8 painted red with a carbon fiber engine cover

Photo: Logan K. Carter

Engaging Sport mode opens the valved exhaust, and even at idle I’m aware that I’m sitting just inches behind the three-headed dog beast who guards the gates of Hades. Step on the throttle, pray the tires hook up, shriek like a schoolgirl, pray the brakes can slow me down before I fly off the cliff I’ve suddenly arrived at, turn the corner and repeat.

Now, this is not a track monster. It’s not glued to the road, and doesn’t stay flat through the corners. It’s clearly an obscenely powerful, sonorous, and characterful engine dropped into the jiggly body of a 10-year-old Stellantis car. That dichotomy makes the Ultima a blast to drive. Below 4,000 rpm the V8 feels gutsy; above 4,000 rpm, you realize it’s not gutsy, it wants to kill you. The twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V8 under the hood is a marvelous sight to behold, and it sends all 572 horsepower and 538 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels only. Once those turbos spool up, you’d better hope that nobody in the car just ate because the power is dizzying, dazzling, and damn fun.

A rear 3/4 shot of the car parked in front of grassy rocky hills

Photo: Logan K. Carter

This is not the first V8 powered Ghibli, that would be the Ghibli Trofeo, but the 334 Ultima has a few tweaks that help it reach Ultima status. The 334 Ultima gets some special touches beyond the bright red monster living under the hood, like carbon fiber exterior accents including a spoiler that reduces drag and helps it achieve its top speed, and the gorgeous paint and 334 stickers on the side help it to stand out. The bespoke Pirellis are very sticky, and wrap around special 21-inch wheels.

On the inside, everything I look at and touch is covered in leather from the farthest reaches of the dashboard all the way down to the door pockets. The interior feels solid despite some parts bin Stellantis components like the start button, steering wheel buttons, and window switches. The 10.1-inch infotainment is inoffensive, and since the car doesn’t have a ton of features so it’s very cut and dry. It has both wireless and wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a wireless charger up front so those boxes, are ticked at least. The instrument cluster features a throwback analog speedometer and tachometer, and a dated configurable display between the two that worked best as a digital speedometer.

A shot of the dash board from the rear seat

Photo: Logan K. Carter

Driving around Los Angeles in this Blue Di Persia Ghibli 334 Ultima, I felt like the car was a secret just for me. Car people see a Ghibli and scoff, but they don’t know what’s lurking under the hood until you pull the solid metal column-mounted paddle to downshift and shock them with the exhaust note. Non-enthusiasts seem to love a Maserati regardless of the model, so it still holds clout among the uninitiated.

The real winner in the situation is the owner, because despite several obvious shortcomings, the 2024 Maserati Ghibli 334 Ultima is a charming, terrifying, fast, handsome, comfortable, and impressive sedan that stays firmly in its own lane. It’s not trying to be a BMW M5 or anything like that — it’s a Maserati, and a damn good one at that. Maserati will only produce 103 of the Ghibli 334 Ultima for the entire world, and anyone who is lucky enough to buy one will not be disappointed. Thanks for all the fun, Maserati. We will miss your V8s.

A photo of the front seats showing off the terra cotta leather

Photo: Logan K. Carter

A photo of the gauge cluster showing physical gauges

Photo: Logan K. Carter

A photo of the center console near the shifter with the sport button and suspension button

Photo: Logan K. Carter

A close-up of the upshift paddle with the Maserati trident on the steering wheel pointing at it

Photo: Logan K. Carter

A photo of the rear seats with the Maserati trident embroidered on the outboard terra cotta leather headrests

Photo: Logan K. Carter

A front shot of the car parked on a mountainside with the ocean and a hang glider in the distance

Photo: Logan K. Carter