A tame macho
The demand for SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles) is so high that Maserati has decided not to develop successors to classic sedans. Therefore, the Grecale is Maserati's new base model and the spiritual successor to the Ghibli.
By Maserati standards, the Grecale may be a compact SUV, but in absolute terms it is still a hefty car. For instance, the Grecale is larger than an Audi Q5 and slightly smaller than a BMW X5 or Mercedes-Benz GLE. To make another comparison: at the very least, Maserati has found inspiration from the Jaguar E-PACE, with bulbous lines and headlights that lie on the nose. Very characteristic of Maserati are the "gills" on the side screens and the open grille with prominent trident logo.
Inside, Maserati also opts for a new style, aimed at a younger audience. Instead of extravagant Italian, the cabin of the test car is sober and black. The high-quality materials and chrome trim nevertheless make it clear that this is a "premium" product. Space in the front is good. Legroom in the rear is moderate for a car of this size.
Maserati joins the trend of providing large displays. Despite this, the dashboard is anything but minimalist, as there are still plenty of buttons and levers. A nice touch: even the traditional analogue clock in the centre of the dashboard has been replaced by a screen. This round display is so bright that it looks like an analogue clock. However, at the push of a button, it can be replaced by a G-force gauge, brake-force gauge or compass.
Equipment and infotainment
The Grecale is the first model to feature a new generation of Maserati's proprietary audio, communication and navigation system. Here too, extravagant design has made way for more functional and thus traditional display of menus. User-friendliness has improved as a result. However, the capabilities of Maserati's new infotainment system are average.
What is far above average is the audio system developed in collaboration with Italian hi-fi specialist Sonus Faber. The sound of this is crystal-clear and string-tight. It isn't easily seduced and therefore initially seems a bit dull. However, the longer this audio system is listened to, the more beautiful it becomes. Eventually, many will even discover new things in familiar music and a drive with the Grecale cannot last long enough just because of the audio system!
Because Maserati is part of Stellantis (including Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Opel, Peugeot, Citroën), it can offer all the modern safety features that the volume brands also provide. However, Maserati does provide its own fine-tuning, as the adaptive cruise-control, among other things, clearly works better than in some other Stellantis models.
The Grecale is available in three versions that differ in equipment and power. The top model is the Trofeo, which gets 530 hp / 620 Nm from a six-cylinder biturbo petrol engine. The GT and Modena both have a four-cylinder petrol engine with electric assist ("mild hybrid"). In the Modena, that combination is good for 330 hp / 450 Nm, in the GT driven here it is 300 hp / 450 Nm. Maserati emphasises that the hybrid technology is primarily used to deliver more power and agility, the lower consumption is just a pleasant side effect.
The start button is now on the steering wheel and after pressing it, a sporty yet not artificially deep or imposing sound is heard. Also new: instead of a lever, buttons can be found in the middle of the dashboard to put the 8-speed automatic in forward, reverse or neutral. The space freed up has been used for extra storage space in the interior.
Performance is more than adequate, noting that the Grecale GT struggles with a calm and smooth driving style. In that case the car gets off the spot hesitantly and the automatic gearbox is noticeably searching for the right gear. Even this basic version wants to play! On the other hand, when accelerating briskly, the driveline is in its element and even this "lightest" motorised Grecale is more than quick. There is never any question of supremacy, although the sport mode with plopping sounds from the four (!) exhaust pipes does provide an extra dose of sensation.
The brakes are perfectly controllable and extremely powerful. It therefore seems as if the GT has the same brakes as the 200 hp more powerful top model!
Not only are the brakes designed to handle much more power than the GT can deliver, the suspension has no trouble at all with the 300 hp delivered by the hybrid engine. Compared to other SUVs in this segment, the Grecale is much more sports-oriented with a firm suspension and very direct steering (even in comfort mode).
This gives the Grecale the same confidence-inspiring and capable character as Maserati's sedans. Handling too approaches that level, although a classic low sedan still has an advantage in critical situations. For an SUV, handling is uncompromisingly sporty, which makes the Grecale a true Maserati.
Is even Maserati's entry-level model a real Maserati? Yes and no. With its hybrid engine, the Grecale is undeniably fast, but also a tad dull. That's in the performance, as well as in the character and sound of the engine. The chassis, brakes and steering, on the contrary, are distinctly sporty, but no more sporty than fast SUVs from the competition.
Compared to traditional Maseratis, the Grecale lacks extravagance, individuality and boldness. Thanks to its excellent handling, the Grecale does give the feeling of superiority that comes with Maserati, but because of its solid design, exclusivity is lacking. This makes the Grecale like a tame macho: it has the image, but not the bravado. That may sound negative, but it is also an opportunity to choose a Maserati for the first time with both feeling and reason.
- Pronounced sporting character
- Sublime audio system from Sonus Faber
- Moderate legroom in the rear
- Less distinctive from other brands than before