Maserati’s history is full of twists and turns. In recent decades, the luxury sports car brand was taken over by Fiat and then by the Stellantis group. The tide is changing, Maserati is moving away from the sports cars and grand tourers that have always made it popular towards mass market segments.
The launch of the Levante in 2016 added an SUV to the range – an SUV that still offers Ferrari’s V8 engine in the range-topping Trofeo – and is now being followed by the Grecale. Maserati brings the brand to the mass market with a small SUV. There’s no V8 here, but it’s one of the company’s models that will get an all-electric powertrain in 2024. While we’re waiting for the new electric model to be unveiled, we hopped on a hybrid version to see what it has to offer.
With its power and performance, Maserati’s Grecale is in the premium compact SUV segment. It offers a sports car, but also all the benefits that you have the right to expect from this type of car.
- High quality spacious interior
- It is very pleasant to drive
- High prices and expensive options
- We will have to wait for electricity
It is no coincidence that Maserati finds itself launching a small SUV. It’s the best-selling car segment and everyone strives to have something to offer – especially when the parent company is in charge. It is not surprising, then, that the Grecale has Stellantis origins, sharing the platform with the Alfa Romeo Stelvio (albeit with a modified chassis), while the engine also comes from the group. No, not from Ferrari, but a four-cylinder petrol engine. We will come back to this later…
What Grecale is doing, however, is opening up the brand to a new group of customers. From an executive looking for a sports car to a premium family SUV with automotive heritage, it’s a big change. Interestingly, Alfa uses the same approach as the Alfa Romeo Tonale: it’s about making the brand appeal to new customer segments.
From the outside, the Grecale may not be as distinctive as the company’s sports cars, but it looks like a slightly toned-down Levante. The shape of a small SUV does not allow much to be done, and many things play on the nose or the undulations of the bodywork. The front vents bear the Maserati logo, the standard air vents on the sides and the trident rims are all elements that adorn the slim design.
Door handles and LED lights bring the Grecale into the modern era, while maintaining the classic Maserati design on the outside. The Grecale comes in three variants at launch, the GT and Modena (reviewed here), then the sporty Trofeo, and the Folgore (electric), which will join the pack in the near future. Different models offer different performance, with minor exterior details, but this is a good-looking car, it will certainly stand out from the Porsche Macan, or the high-end BMW and Audi models that could be a realistic option.
The Maserati Grecale is priced from over $65,000 in the US or £60,000 in the UK, almost the same price as the Audi SQ5 – and the Modena model is similar in performance to this Audi model – while the Trofeo model takes over. particles.
There are a few exterior options, such as painting the brake calipers, as well as adding dream stripes and liveries, but the price is high. It is worth looking closely at the color, because on this black model – which is actually called Nero Tempesta – sparkles appear when it catches the light: it is absolutely beautiful.
Although we expressed a little sadness over the Levante’s lack of a V8, the Grecale’s interior is more modern than the older, larger SUV. It feels like a sports car cabin, decked out in carbon fiber and red leather, there’s a wealth to match this car’s price. Naturally, the interior comes with a lot of options and is where you can customize what you get, but it’s also where you’ll see the base price go up quickly.
Buttons have been removed, with the central display sitting atop a secondary multi-function display that handles most of the standard controls, including climate control, but also gives you access to personalized interactive functions. You also have access to seat bolster controls, which allow you to adjust the sports seats to your body type and hold them in place at an angle to reduce body roll.
A few buttons move the controls around the steering wheel, with the engine start button and drive mode selector – including the adaptive air suspension – paired with large paddle shifters. manual gears (if you want to use them), there’s that solid sports car aesthetic again. . It’s what customers expect from Maserati, however.
So the steering wheel is lightly loaded, with a full range of cruise control options, including controls for the digital driver display, phone, audio controls and more.
For modernization, the opening of the doors is done with a push button and no longer with the traditional pull handle.
The rear seats aren’t huge, but there’s plenty of room for adults in the back, although there’s a bump in the floor for the transmission – it’ll be interesting to see if that’s reduced when the electric version of the Folgore is launched.
The trunk volume is also significant at 535 liters, slightly more than the Porsche Macan. So it’s a practical car, whether you’re doing your weekly shopping or heading to the beach for the weekend.
Behind the steering wheel is a 12.3-inch digital display, with customization buttons on the steering wheel that allow the display to be adjusted somewhat. These are basically standard dials, without going all the way to Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, but giving access to all the information you might need.
It is associated with a 12.3-inch central screen, beating the 8.8-inch screen. Between the two screens you will find the PRND driving controls, that is, you have to press the corresponding button to switch driving. We have seen similar cars, such as the Fiat 500e or the Aston Martin DBX707, which have the advantage of removing the steering wheel. When the Grecale appears in an electric version, it means you don’t have to look at the old transformer.
The middle screens are of high quality, so the user interface looks good. It’s also very intuitive, with slide-out home page widgets and buttons for the main areas – media, navigation, phone, car controls and apps – on the sides. Shortcuts are available at the top of the screen, including access to Amazon’s Alexa, although you’ll need to be connected to your phone for this to work.
The car has a Qi wireless charging pad and supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay – also wireless – and it’s likely that many people will choose to use those features over the Maserati. It is likely that many people will choose to use these services over Maserati’s. That’s how things are today and we found Android Auto working without problems and some information was transferred to the driver’s display, such as music information.
The clock sits on top of the dashboard. Many brands love their watches and here the Maserati watch is digital so it can be used better. The dashboard also includes a charging indicator for your phone on a wireless tablet, as well as a fun meter to show power and braking. Again, this is a modern twist on a traditional element that helps make Grecale look a little different.
Our test model was also equipped with a high-end Sonos faber sound system, with 21 speakers adorning the cabinet, delivering 1285W of power as well as a 3D surround sound option, to get the most out of your music. The sound is amazing.
High power and performance
Speaking of soundtracks, we return to the engine. It is not a car that emits an exciting exhaust note, as it is a four-cylinder petrol engine. Of course, the sound is good when it revs up, but it in no way matches the V8 that other Maseratis offer. But Grecale wants to move with the times and, as we enter the electric age, this car may be defined more by its stability – we’ll know more about that in 2024.
Maserati doesn’t offer a plug-in hybrid option, so the Modena version reviewed here is a hybrid, with a 2-litre petrol engine producing 330bhp. That allows it to hit 0-100mph in 5.3 seconds with a peak torque of 450Nm. That’s respectable performance for an SUV, but unlikely to deliver better economy. Our test car averaged 23.7 miles per hour.
As we mentioned earlier, three trim levels affect the power offered by the Grecale, from the 300 hp GT to the 530 hp Trofeo, which has a V6 for added performance and excitement on the road and a 0-100mph time of 3.8 seconds – plus a big price hike. All Grecale models come with all-wheel drive, which provides some advantages to this sport utility vehicle.
The steering is smooth and precise, while the adaptive suspension allows the height of the vehicle to be adjusted to improve aerodynamics or ground clearance. The car is well positioned and controlled, avoiding body roll and giving off a sporty impression.
The automatic gearbox responds quickly, with large aluminum paddle shifters integrated into the steering column to give you direct control when you want it. There are several modes of driving, with the comfort mode being more sedentary than others. In fact, the only thing that didn’t convince us was the noise made by the turn signal. In a car that is somehow so modern, having an indicator that sounds like an old grandfather clock seems odd.
From the outside you can see that Maserati has tried to bring a touch of heritage to the Grecale, but there are limits to what can be done with an SUV this size – it’s no more exciting than other grand tourers sporting the three-point badge, but we think the interior helps – especially in comparison and the Levante, which ends up looking local.
It is a practical vehicle, as a compact SUV should be, while offering good performance. The GT and Modena don’t come with the same exciting engine as the Trofeo, but we suspect many who will look at the performance – above average for this segment – will stare at the badge and be very happy to get something smaller. difference.
It’s expensive, of course, but it’s a Maserati SUV: what matters is that it’s a fun SUV to drive and that the cabin is pleasant to live in.