Welcome all to Maserati’s ‘everyday’ SUV, the Grecale. This is the Italian firm’s second attempt at a high-riding five-door, following the now seven-year-old Levante. What better way to sample the latest from the Italian carmaker than by taking the Grecale for a first drive on local soil.
The new model is sticking its trident into the upper realms of the SUV market where you can find the already established Mercedes-Benz GLC, BMW X5, Audi Q5 and Lexus RX. But the Grecale has a few unique things going for it, one of those being Italian style. At its core though, the model is designed to be used on a day-to-day basis where occupants can tackle the most mundane of tasks in luxury and comfort, all while having plenty of performance on tap. The latter is something Maserati says should be a part of your daily routine.
There are three models, starting with the $124,000 GT which comes with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder connected to a mild hybrid system. It makes 224kW and 450Nm of torque. We thought the entry-level model was pretty throaty, along with the Modena which shares the same motor, but ups power to 246kW. The standard specification on the mid-range model is upgraded as well, and with that comes a jump in price to $145,000.
Things step up significantly when it comes to the Trofeo, including the price tag, out to $186,000. But it does have the 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged Nettuno V6 under the bonnet. Power output comes to a healthy 395kW while torque is at 620Nm, sufficient for a claimed 0 to 100km/h sprint time of 3.8 seconds. The Trofeo sure lives up to its potential. Both the V6 and inline four-cylinder come mated to a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. This initiates almost instant upshifts in the sporty modes, playing a noticeable throttle-cut tune with every gear grab.
Adding to the line-up sometime in the not-too-distant future is the battery-powered Folgore which was recently revealed at the Shanghai Auto Show.
We had a good run on the motorway with the Grecale before taking to the rural back roads of North Auckland, sampling each variant on our drive. The SUV felt right at home while cruising with the help of its active lane assist system but it really surprised us when it came to the twisties. Although you the vehicle rides somewhat high, being an SUV, the Grecale felt planted going into each corner with pace, even in Comfort and GT driving modes. Switching to Sport firmed up the already direct steering, which helped us guide the car through the corners more precisely. Upon reflection, the Grecale should be a dynamic machine; it uses the same Giorgio platform as the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio.
We can’t say much time was spent in the more comfortable driving modes when behind the wheel of the Trofeo, as that soundtrack and acceleration were all too addictive. The top-of-the-range model comes with absorbent air suspension (optional on the GT and Modena) which firms considerably when you engage Corsa mode (unique to the Trofeo), reducing the restricted body roll even further. But for most people, the GT and Modena both offer plenty of pudding in the same wrapping.
Maserati says the interior of the Grecale is “devoted to functionality” which we can attest to considering the amount of storage space available, including two large cup holders, various cubbie holes in the doors, and a central wireless phone charger. The driving position is just as functional but also comfortable, with everything you need found on or around the steering wheel, including a set of fixed aluminium gear shift paddles which feel oh-so-rewarding in use. Much of the interior is clad in leather which can come in a variety of colours, while other “real” materials like wood are found on the doors and central panel.
Four screens are mounted to the dashboard and yet they don’t dominate it as much as you’d think. In saying that, there isn’t a single button in the centre console as all of the air conditioning and vehicle controls are found on their own 8.8-inch touchscreen below the 12.3-inch infotainment display, seamlessly integrated into one kinked pane with the gear selection buttons in the middle. However, the lack of something to press isn’t to everyone’s taste, so Maserati says if you want more buttons in your interior, go for the Levante. This does free up room for an extra covered storage compartment complete with USB connections though.
When it comes down to deciding which Grecale variant you want, it depends mainly on your budget. The most bang for your buck would come from a highly-specced GT if the slight bump in power of the Modena wasn’t of any value to you. On the other hand, if you can stretch to the Trofeo, the noise and feeling of that twin-turbocharged V6 is worth it. After all, how many other SUVs share their motor with a mid-engined supercar like the MC20?