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Car reviews - Maserati - Grecale - GT


We like
Raspy engine note, polished ride and refinement, Levante-beating packaging space, agile handling, impressive stereo, interior design details
Room for improvement
Derivative styling and lighting details, clumsy push-button transmission selector, all- touchscreen controls require familiarity, some options are hugely expensive

Maserati expands SUV range with mid-size Grecale

26 Jul 2023


IF expanding your SUV line-up defines the current automotive world’s ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality, then the all-new Maserati Grecale premium medium SUV is a case of ‘better late than never’ for the Italian sporting marque.


Based on a derivative of the Giorgio platform that underpins the Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan and Stelvio SUV, the Grecale defines its more exclusive positioning by offering a completely unique design with larger sizing, unique suspension (featuring the availability of the brand’s ‘Skyhook’ adaptive damping with air springs) and a pair of engines that add a distinctive flavour to the Grecale’s sporting credentials.


The range-topping $165,000 Grecale Trofeo scores Maserati’s own 3.0-litre twin-turbo ‘Nettuno’ V6 from the MC20 supercar, delivering 390kW/620Nm, a 0-100km/h time of 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 285km/h. Yet in the future, that fossil-fuel slurping sporting flagship will be counter-balanced by the Grecale Folgore – an all-electric model slated to offer more than 370kW and a top speed over 200km/h.


At the other end of the line-up, the 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder in the base Grecale GT and mid-spec Modena is related to the same engine in the Giulia/Stelvio, though the Maserati gains a 48-volt mild-hybrid system and two unique states of tune.


The Grecale GT gets a 221kW/450Nm version of the Alfa’s spirited 2.0-litre while the Modena boosts power to 242kW – both outputs comparing favourably with the much-cheaper Stelvio Veloce’s 206kW/400Nm.


How much cheaper? The facelifted MY23 Stelvio Veloce starts at $82,950 while the Grecale GT kicks off at $109,500, followed by the Modena at $128,000 (all prices before on-road costs) – a significant step up.


But the Grecale is also quite a bit larger – essentially positioning itself as an upper-medium SUV with a length of 4846mm (159mm more than a Stelvio), a width of 1948mm (+45mm), a height of 1670mm (+22mm) and a substantial wheelbase length measuring 2901mm (+83mm).


Indeed, the Grecale is closer to the Maserati Levante in size than it is the Stelvio, and challenges its larger stablemate for packaging space … which begs the question, is the Grecale a smarter, more sophisticated alternative to the more expensive, much-older Levante?


One thing the Grecale introduces is Maserati’s Fuoriserie customisation program that allows customers to essentially create their own bespoke Grecale … for a price.


While our test GT hit the road at $132,395 (before on-road costs) – including metallic paint, 20-inch forged alloy wheels (19s are standard on the GT), black brake calipers, a panoramic sunroof, open-pore wood trim, a Comfort pack (front seat ventilation, 12-way ‘Luxury’ electric front seats and premium leather interior) and a Tech pack (head-up display, wireless phone charging and an ‘IR Protection’ windscreen) – the customisation possibilities are virtually endless.


Cue options such as carbonfibre interior trim ($6850), a 21-speaker Sonus Faber stereo ($5950) and matte paintwork in five colours ($50,500), among so many other enticements.   




Driving impressions


Approaching the Grecale GT for the first time, it’s the shape of the vehicle that’s more arresting than the details. It’s a handsome, well-proportioned SUV with a muscular stance (particularly from the rear) and a lovely side view – highlighted by flush door handles with an electric ‘squeeze’ release, distinctive wheel designs and a handsome glasshouse.


But in an era of striking lighting details, the Maserati’s rather plain head- and tail-lights somehow sell it a bit short, even though the subtle ‘boomerang’ shape of the rear LEDs is meant to evoke Giugiaro’s classic 3200 GT design. From behind, if it wasn’t for the ‘Maserati’ script across the electric tailgate, the Grecale’s rear view could be from anything – muscular stance aside.


Inside, however, the Grecale appears significantly more convincing. A slick interior design peppered with ultra-modern screens (including a large central pair, with the lower screen controlling the cabin climate) is complemented by the superb quality of its optional premium leather upholstery (that also covers the dash) and most interior finishes to make it feel a lot more exclusive than its distant cousin – the Alfa Romeo Stelvio.


The Grecale also has a more natural driving position than the Alfa, with excellent 12-way electric front seats adding to its feeling of expense – backed by impressive rear-seat comfort and loads of rear legroom. There’s even decent door storage, and the Grecale’s beautifully trimmed 535-litre boot provides ample accompaniment.


There’s a lot of technology in the Grecale’s cabin, which contemporary buyers will probably love, and Levante owners will probably covet. A configurable 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster seamlessly integrates its look with the rest of the screen fonts, and even the ‘stock’ 14-speaker Sonus Faber stereo is excellent (with wireless Apple CarPlay).


About the only jarring addition is the push-button transmission that consists of a horizontal band positioned between the upper 12.3-inch touchscreen and the lower 8.8-inch screen. It often takes a determined prod to make your selected gear engage properly, and while you get used to its quirks and not trying to rush it, it doesn’t quite gel with the Grecale’s slickness elsewhere.  


The Grecale GT’s engine is a delight. Smooth and torquey (450Nm from 2000-4500rpm), backed by Maserati’s characteristic exhaust rasp, it easily fools you into believing there’s more than 1995cc under the bonnet.


Tied to a polished eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive, it’s strong enough to punch the 1870kg Grecale GT from 0-100km/h in 5.6 seconds, yet effortless enough to make general urban driving a pleasant experience.


So is the GT’s suspension – in this case the standard set-up and not the air-sprung option, which surprised us with its overall absorbency and damping finesse, despite the test car wearing serious 255/45R20 Continental tyres.


Combined with keen steering response and excellent handling balance, the nicely communicative Grecale GT can be punished on challenging roads while maintaining its cool on all levels (braking included), though its 12.4-metre turning circle feels huge and you’ll pay for any throttle-pedal enthusiasm at the fuel pump.


Despite the Grecale GT’s combined consumption figure being 8.7-9.2L/100km (depending on wheel size), we averaged 12.9L/100km in our test car across more than 200km of varied test conditions.


The Grecale also ticks all the modern active-safety boxes, featuring adaptive cruise with stop and go, blind-spot and lane-keep assistance, front and rear parking sensors, auto park-assist, rear AEB, rear cross-traffic alert, a surround-view camera, and available traffic-sign recognition, intersection collision assist, and active driving assistant.


Perhaps best of all, though, is the fact you can turn the lane-assist off simply by hitting a button on the end of a column stalk, rather than diving into its extensively layered touchscreen.


So what we’re left with is a highly capable, pleasantly polished, satisfyingly sophisticated upper-medium SUV that impresses in so many areas. It may be difficult to see out of at times, and some find the Grecale’s overall styling treatment a little difficult to look at. But in the right colour, with suitable wheels and interior finishes – of which there are so many – the Grecale feels like a pukka Maserati SUV.


It's better finished, more refined, more comfortable and a lot less patchy than the Levante it shares showroom space with. And apart from its disappointingly dull lighting signatures, there’s so much to like here – apart, perhaps, from its price.


But then if you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it anyway. And based on the amount of customisation that Maserati owners happily indulge in, the Grecale’s smorgasbord of options and variants – soon with an electric alternative – means this likeable sports-luxury SUV couldn’t have arrived at a more appropriate time.


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