Exotic Italian brand Maserati is on a bit of a roll of late, having recently launched its MC20 supercar, next-generation GranTurismo and now the Grecale – the latter is Maserati’s contender in the big-selling mid-size SUV segment.
It goes up against proven models like the diesel-powered Audi SQ5, the universally lauded Porsche Macan, more eager versions of BMW’s X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC, as well as the closely related Alfa Romeo Stelvio – both are underpinned by the same ‘Giorgio’ platform, only the Grecale is slightly larger than its main rivals.
Yet, the Grecale had some serious catching up to do against such seasoned competitors and not just from a design or luxury perspective; it also needs to be an accomplished proposition from an engineering perspective if it’s to win over prestige buyers from those more traditional luxury makes and models.
Nevertheless, there’s plenty to like for those keen for a fashionable slice of Italian flair, luxury and performance. There’s also plenty of that indomitable Maserati presence which has been wowing well-to-do buyers around the globe for more than a century.
From any angle it looks the part. Up front, you’ve got Maserati’s trademark grille with floating Trident emblem in addition to the bonnet badge and striking triple side strakes. Further back on the C-pillar there’s a smaller but no less notable Trident, whereas out the back Maserati is simply spelled out in chrome-finished script.
Looking at it in a purely functional light, there’s a deep bumper with huge side air intakes and a splitter, while at the rear again, there are four beefed-up exhaust tips integrated into the diffuser. It’s a sweet aesthetic balancing act between a sporty character and the inherently exotic nature which the Maserati brand conveys so well.
It’s not as strikingly gorgeous in the same way the new-generation Maserati GranTurismo is, but that’s not a like-for-like comparison – though the Grecale does present a fresher approach than all its competitors with more rounded lines and a handsome masculinity all round, which only adds to its decidedly luxury status.
It’s also a distinctly fresh approach to the luxury mid-size SUV segment compared with its rival set, all of which have been around for more than a few years.
The base Maserati Grecale GT is priced from $109,500 plus on-road costs and comes with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, while the mid-spec Grecale Modena wears a price tag of $128,000 before on-roads and gets a more powerful tune of the same 2.0-litre donk.
The go-fast Grecale Trofeo is priced from $165,000 excluding on-roads and is powered by a 3.0-litre, six-cylinder twin-turbo Nettuno engine used by Maserati’s MC20 supercar.
Topping the range is the fully-electric Folgore, which uses a 105kWh battery with 400V architecture and is on its way here in 2024 with supercar levels of performance.
Our Grecale GT tested here was also fitted with the following options:
- Metallic paint – Nero Tempesta: $2150.00
- 20-inch Etere Forged wheels (in gloss black): $3950.00
- Black painted brake calipers: $1250.00
- Panorama sunroof: $3750.00
- Open Pore Radica wood trim: $1155.00
- Comfort Pack: $7350.00
- Tech Assistance Pack: $3290.00
The above lifted final price by $22,895 to $132,395, plus on-road costs – more on option packages further down.
Rivals makes and models to the Maserati Grecale GT tested here include the Audi SQ5 ($110,400 or $116,200 for the Sportback), BMW X3 M40i ($121,500), Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 ($104,900) and the Porsche Macan T ($98,700).
2023 Maserati Grecale pricing:
- Maserati Grecale GT: $109,500
- 2023 Maserati Grecale Modena: $128,000
- 2023 Maserati Grecale Trofeo: $165,000
Prices exclude on-road costs
It’s not quite as special as the new Gran Turismo, but it’s also around half its price.
All things considered, it’s a welcome step up for the Maserati brand and certainly adds to Grecale’s luxury ambience, which also elevates it into a new level of modernity.
Regardless of how you spec your Grecale – and believe me, there’s plenty of opportunity to mix and match materials – all the good stuff is there including a superb Maserati three-spoke stitched leather steering wheel.
The chrome-on-black Maserati badge front and centre on the hub is pure class, as are the two knurled dials – one for the start/stop function and one for drive modes. The alloy-sculptured paddleshifters are design pieces in their own right and extra-long for easy shifting
Maserati’s trademark clock remains too, only now it’s digital, which allows you to switch between three different faces, including two entirely different renditions of the marque’s timeless analogue clock, together with a cool ‘Design’ face – and all at the touch of a button. Oddly enough, I found myself swapping faces constantly, but with no real preference.
Open-pore wood always looks good as a modern interpretation of the old-school lacquered walnut veneers so often used in exotic makes of old, including Maseratis, but even more-so when applied sparingly on the centre console and door cards as in our Grecale GT tester.
There are more knurled knobs as controllers for the already tasteful brightwork on the model’s beautifully streamlined air vents. So nice to the touch are these, you’ll likely find yourself constantly fiddling with them – never mind their inherent aesthetic value.
We also like the laser-cut metal grill plates for Grecale’s excellent-sounding Sonus Faber sound system’s mid-range speakers and tweeters. Again, it demonstrates proper luxury status even at the entry level.
There are also no less than four configurable screens (including the clock itself), from the digital instrument cluster to the double-stacked duo of the 12.3-inch infotainment panel and 8.8-inch climate-control screen below, which also controls heating and ventilation as well as a few other vehicle functions.
There’s no shift lever either – not even a small one like the new-fangled Braun-shaver-style unit adopted by Porsche with its 992 version of its 911 sports car – and one that’s now used by other makes and models in the segment.
Instead, there’s a small strip of buttons to engage Drive, Reverse and Park functions. I’m not a big fan of this execution, as it’s just not intuitive and so often requires a second and more deliberate ‘press’ before it properly engages the transmission.
While the optional Premium leather seats are superbly soft and comfortable, ideally, we’d like a tad more aggressive side bolster – or at least the option of varying it electronically when Sport or Sport+ is selected – even on the base GT given Grecale’s standout body control.
The cabin itself is wonderfully spacious – and in both seat rows, particularly when it comes to legroom. It’s no surprise Maserati claims the Grecale is best-in-class when it comes to ‘spaciousness and comfort’.
The thickly-carpeted floor mats are more luxurious than the over-priced carpet in our lounge room, and while the two outer rear seats are decently bolstered, the centre passenger space is best suited for shorter hops, I’d suggest.
Load space behind the rear seats is excellent with no less than 535L available, but with the added advantage of an exceptionally wide aperture for easy loading of large boxes and MTBs for that matter.
The rear seats fold just short of completely flat but that shouldn’t restrict carrying capacity in any way.
The entry-level Grecale GT is powered by a 48V mild-hybrid version of the 2.0-litre turbocharged four that also sees duty in the Alfa Romeo Stelvio.
It makes 220kW at 5750rpm and 450Nm from 2000rpm to 4000rpm and Maserati claims the Grecale GT will hit 100km/h from rest in 5.6 seconds and 200km/h in 23.7 seconds, before topping out at 240km/h.
The Grecale Modena shares the GT’s powertrain, but the power output has been boosted to 242kW at 5750rpm and its 450Nm of torque is available from 2000rpm to 5000rpm.
The Modena has the same top speed as the GT but is three-tenths of a second quicker to 100km/h and 1.8 seconds quicker to 200km/h.
Even in four-pot versions of the Grecale you can still get adaptive air suspension or just adaptive dampers for greater breadth of ride compliance, but only as part of the optional Handling Packs – but that’s not to say the standard fixed-rate suspension isn’t any good.
In fact, it’s surprising just how well this entry-level Maserati handles Sydney’s ever-worsening road conditions, at least in the suburbs. Only very occasionally did I wish our tester was equipped with the ultra-lush air springs, because overall, the base Grecale handles the bumps and broken roads exceptionally well.
Better still, it achieves a solid balance between bump absorption and tight body control for adept handling whenever you want to lean on Maserati’s well-sorted chassis. In fact, the bigger the speed hump, the better this baseline Grecale deals with it. The chassis is really quite excellent at isolating any unwanted intrusion into the cabin.
And, while it might be the entry-level Grecale with a four-cylinder engine under the bonnet, it also benefits from the addition of a 48V mild-hybrid system together with turbocharging and an electric compressor to get things going more urgently at lower revs.
Suffice to say, it’s not slow; especially if you’ve dialled up Sport mode which gives you get a hair-trigger throttle and quicker gear shifts. The whole thing comes together seamlessly and with plenty of shove, but not as the expense of smoothness thanks to the eight-speed ZF transmission.
There’s a manual button too, should you want to use the column-mounted paddle-shifters exclusively in Sport; but while it’s fun when conditions are right, the Grecale GT’s shift mapping almost makes it redundant given how intuitive it is – especially with throttle-blipping downshifts when late braking into corners. It’s almost irresistible.
Those quad exhaust tips aren’t all show, either. The four-pot Grecale makes some damn-fine noise, although it’s best heard in Sport for the most decibels. Comparatively, it’s a close race between the Grecale and the same-displacement Porsche Macan T – but under full load I’d give it to the racier-sounding Maserati.
There’s also nice linearity with the electric power steering, so it feels entirely natural from lock-to-lock and part of the reason this four-cylinder Maserati lives up to the storied Maserati marque. It’s capable and properly well composed under quick changes of direction. It’s an SUV that feels light on its feet, yet still very much robust at the same time.
The Grecale feels lighter and more agile than the Macan, despite tipping the scales as at around 25kg heavier in the baseline version, but it’s also not quite as solid or tied down over poor surfaces either, at least while travelling at a reasonable clip – if for only those rare times when conditions permit an all-out assault on your favourite uphill climb.
The Maserati’s brakes aren’t particularly large either, given it wears 20-inch alloys with 350mm front discs, but that doesn’t seem to affect its stopping power or indeed pedal feel, which again is reassuring without feeling grabby in any way.
No surprise the baseline in the Grecale range is also the most fuel efficient, with the GT claiming between 8.7L/100km – 9.2L/100km on the combined cycle.
While we did record fuel consumption as low as 8.9L/100k, we also got as high as 11.9L/100km in Sport mode on occasion but it’s dictated very much by different driving styles and conditions.
Grecale GT highlights:
- 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster
- 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- 14-speaker Sonus Faber premium sound system
- 8.8-inch lower display
- Leather upholstery with contrast stitching
- Maglia Milano interior trim
- Electrically adjustable steering column
- DAB+ digital radio
- Aluminium door sills
- Dual-zone climate control with humidity sensor
- Powered tailgate with kick sensor
- Front, rear parking sensors
- Reversing camera
- Wearable key
Grecale Modena adds:
- 20-inch alloy wheels
- Mechanical rear limited-slip differential
- Active shocks
Grecale Trofeo adds:
- Electronic rear limited-slip differential
- Air suspension
- 21-inch alloy wheels
- Brembo brakes
- Corsa drive mode
Available colours for Grecale include:
- Rosso Granturismo – Fuoriserie
- Grigio Cangiante – Fuoriserie
- Giallo Corse
- Grigio Lava
- Grigio Lava opaco
- Blu Intenso
- Blu Nobile
- Nero Tempesta
- Bianco Astro
Maserati also offers customisation of exterior and interior trim colours through its bespoke Fuoriserie program.
- Cooled front seats
- Premium leather (seats, dashboard, panels)
- Linked contents
- 12-way luxury powered front seats
- 4-way lumbar
- Memory function
Tech Assistance Pack
- Head-up display
- IR Protection Windshield
- Wireless phone charging
The Maserati Grecale has yet to be rated by ANCAP or Euro NCAP.
Standard safety equipment includes:
- AEB incl. Pedestrian, Cyclist detection
- Adaptive Cruise Control
- Blind Spot Monitor
- Active Lane Management
- Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keep Assist + Warning
- Drowsy Driver Detection
Optional active safety features include:
- Intelligent Speed Assist
- Traffic sign recognition
- Intersection collision Assist
- Active Driving Assist
- “an extension of the Active Highway Assist. Different from Highway Assist which operates on limited access freeways only, this new system is supported on every road condition. The driver is still required to stay in control”
Maserati covers all its models with a three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty – which is short these days when five-year coverage is the norm.
The Grecale requires servicing every 12 months or 20,000km, whichever comes first.
Service pack pricing (3 years):
Finally, the benchmark Porsche Macan has a worthy rival in the Maserati Grecale – even at the entry level.
For some buyers the Maserati badge itself will carry greater prestige weight than any of the German brands in the category.
Certainly it looks and feels decidedly more exotic, together with a real sense of craftsmanship about the cabin and the very latest tech to boot.
Dynamically Grecale is right up there, with an excellent ride/handling balance and solid go all round – even on the standard fixed-rate suspension set-up.
While we look forward to putting the formidable MC20-powered V6 Trofeo through its paces, along with the more powerful four-pot Grecale Modena, it’s the entry-level GT version tested here that may well end up the pick of the bunch with its value for money perspective and strong performance.
Well worth a test drive from an Italian exotic on the up.
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