Maserati is on a roll. The critically acclaimed MC20 supercar has bloodied noses at McLaren and Lamborghini, while the glamourous GranTurismo coupe is a credible threat to the Porsche 911 Turbo. Fully electric ‘Folgore’ versions of both models arrive soon, too.
Such rarefied machines are great for building a brand (or rebuilding one, of course – Maserati was established in 1914), but what this Italian company needs next is a volume seller to boost its bottom line. In 2023, that invariably means an SUV.
The Grecale is that vehicle: a midsize SUV pitched squarely at the Porsche Macan. I’m keeping it real by testing the base-spec GT, which has a 300hp 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and costs from £63,970. The £70,925 Modena has the same motor with an extra 30hp, adaptive dampers and a limited-slip differential.
Or you can blow the budget on the £102,480 Grecale Trofeo, with a detuned, 530hp version of the 3.0-litre ‘Nettuno’ V6 from the MC20, plus air suspension and a track-focused Corsa driving mode.
Remove the trident badge (made of plastic, sadly) from the Grecale’s toothy grille and there’s little to mark it out as a Maserati. It all looks a tad generic, particularly from the rear, albeit not unattractive for an SUV.
Step inside and things improve considerably, with a cabin that closely mirrors the GranTurismo. Two large central screens – 12.3 inches and an 8.8-inch control panel underneath – mean there are few physical buttons, but the graphics are HD-sharp and it all works intuitively. Even Maserati’s traditional analogue clock has gone digital.
Interior quality has also vaulted into premium German territory, with acres of quilted leather, tasteful wood trim and textured plastic to reaffirm Maserati’s upwardly mobile status. I particularly like the slender, cool-to-the-touch aluminium shift paddles, which add a frisson of supercar to this rather sensible SUV. Speaking of which, you’ll find enough space for adults to sit three-abreast in the back, along with a roomy 535-litre boot (versus 488 litres in the rival Porsche).
Despite weighing a hefty 1,870kg, the Grecale GT will sprint to 62mph in just 5.6 seconds – 0.7 seconds quicker than a Golf GTI. It pulls strongly and revs eagerly, with plentiful four-wheel-drive traction, although the eight-speed automatic transmission isn’t as sharp as the dual-clutch ’boxes offered elsewhere. I wish the mild-hybrid engine sounded more special, too – it doesn’t snarl like a Maserati should.
In terms of driving dynamics, though, the Grecale genuinely can mix it with the Macan. Riding on passive steel springs, the GT shrugs off bumps and potholes with calm composure.
It also changes direction like a lower-slung car, with taut body control, nicely weighted steering and an inherent sense of balance. It’s so well sorted, it makes the fancier suspension setups of the Modena or Trofeo seem like overkill.
If the Grecale has an Achilles’ heel, it’s price. Even this 300hp GT costs a few thousand pounds more than a Porsche Macan S – and that brings two more cylinders and 380hp to the party. Equally, our partner Leasing.com offers the Grecale GT for around £1,050 a month with three months’ payment upfront (two-year lease, limited to 10,000 miles per year). The Macan S is £915 a month with similar Ts and Cs.
Cold financial logic clearly matters less for Maserati’s more exotic offerings, but it’s a key consideration for buyers of family SUVs. Still, if you can stretch to it, the cheapest Grecale is all you really need.