The village of Bormio was twinkling. Seasonal lights made everything cozy after 5 pm in this picturesque Italian town a short distance from the Swiss border. Ski shops, shoe cobblers, and trattorias lined the narrow stone streets. Families gathered in the town square for carols after dark. Under the cloak of the Alps, December in Bormio meant snow, where winter arrived in full force as it once did in many other places when the earth was cooler. As the climate trembles, soft winter experiences now feel special.
Bormio was a storybook scene for a holiday getaway, but the month of December also had a tinge of finality. The Italian car brand Maserati invited a small group of car journalists to have a look at its latest products, which in many ways were all about nostalgia suited to the town. As the world moves toward electric cars in an effort to tamper down harmful emissions, car brands are winding down production of cars that run on gas.
Maserati Marks the Beginning of the End of Gas-Powered Engines
To commemorate the page in its history, Maserati introduced two variations on classic models to mark the beginning of the end of its gasoline-powered cars. The centerpiece was the Ghibli Trofeo 334 Ultima, a proper four-door sports sedan that’s been in production for a decade. Maserati also showed off the larger Levante V8 Ultima, a special edition of a small SUV that’s become the brand’s best-seller. These cars share the quintessential engine that car enthusiasts covet — a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8. To understand what makes the spicy 572 horsepower engine appealing, imagine zipping up to 60 miles per hour in 3.9 seconds and topping out at 208 miles per hour. It’s a performance that hints at Maserati’s roots in motorsports.
Over the decades, Maserati built more than 100,000 cars with V8 engines. Maserati has been making gas cars since 1953—and many of those are highly coveted collectibles. On the very high end, a 1955 Maserati A6CGS/53 Spider sold for $5,170,000 at auction. Maserati posits that the current gasoline-powered cars will one day be collector’s items.
For this last run of its V8s, Maserati plans to sell both models in limited numbers. It’s making 103, a tip of the hat to the Maserati 5000 GT first commissioned by the former Shah of Iran in 1959, who was a fervent car collector and whose support inspired the company’s first V8 engine. Internally, the engineers called that car the Tipo 103, hence why it has now chosen to make 103 copies of the 334 Ultima. Maserati is making 206 of the larger Levante models of which 103 are painted in Nero Assoluto and another 103 in Blu Royale in an even set.
A Drive in the Italian Alps Showcases Maserati’s Abilities in Ice and Snow
The interiors of all the Ultima models are swathed in Pale Terracotta leather seats and like all Maserati vehicles, the cars are stamped with the trident crest. The trident depicts Neptune, and its command of water power, a symbol that harkens back to Maserati’s original Bolognese roots.
In homage to Maserati style, the Italian Alps were the perfect setting to master driving on frozen water, and learn that snow doesn’t need to be debilitating, even for performance vehicles on Pirelli tires. In fact, our group of automotive writers journeyed to this picturesque region three hours north of Milan to plow a range of Maserati sports cars through the ice and snow.
We headed to an ice track in Livigno, near the Swiss border for an investigation into the power of traction control. Cross-country skiers passed by the track steady stream, underscoring the winter wonderland theme of the day. When the traction control was engaged, driving on icy surfaces was far simpler, as the car corrected itself with subtle intervention at the wheel. When the traction control was turned off, it was a bit like ice skating on four tires in an effort to keep the car from spinning wildly into a snowbank. To practice the contrast of this feat, we drove several Maserati models, including a GranTurismo Trofeo and Quattroporte Trofeo. A Quattroporte or two needed to be nudged out of the show when traction control was intentionally deactivated.
It was a treat to drive along snowy mountain roads in these rides that will eventually be replaced by Maserati electric vehicles like the Grecale and GranTurismo Folgores. While the V8 engines are nostalgic, what’s coming next sets up Maserati and other brands up for a future that prioritizes low emissions over history and tradition. When it comes to performance and progress, the future is about the balance of power, even for those who keep one toe in the past.