(Not so) hot on the heels of the Levante which was launched in 2016, comes the all new Maserati Grecale. It’s slightly smaller than the Levante, but it too has been named after a Mediterranean wind (a tradition that dates back to the ‘60s), oozes Italian flair and a huff and puff that’ll blow your house down. We enjoyed the NZ launch so much that we demanded (ok begged) for another spin, and Maserati NZ were happy to oblige.
THere are three models in the current Grecale range, the GT, Modena and the Trofeo (there is an EV model – the Folgore on its way) and Maserati gave us the latter two as follow up drives – we’re very special you know. Although both models are the same dimensionally, they come with different hearts, different trims and as we discovered, gave us different experiences.
The Modena is powered by a four-cylinder 330hp (246kW)/ 450Nm mild hybrid engine. It boasts a zero to 100km/h time of 5.3 seconds which is by no means slow, a powerful boost when required and sups fuel at a rate of 9l/100km. Its trim fit and finish is exquisite and its raison d’etre (yes I know that’s french) in my opinion, is more sporty/modern family biased. That perfect blend of looking good on the driveway, great in performance, but practical on the wallet. Then there’s the Trofeo – the perfect storm.
If the Modena is a lavish, upmarket Italian meal, then the Trofeo is a sumptuous plate of Bice Tagliolini Pasta with Lobster & Truffles served to you by a charismatic cameriere, and all while Pavarotti is singing Nessun Dorma full pelt at your table – there is evidently a lot going on.
Sticking with the Trofeo, its nose is a little more pronounced over its Modena sibling and wraps around the lower slung Maserati grille. The trident motif takes pride of place in the centre of the grille (with some of the ADAS tech behind it) and it sports the new look Maserati badge. As with all models, the lights up front are inspired by their ferocious MC20 and the gaping front vents are underlined by a carbon fibre splitter. Here’s a piece of useful information, the grilles (and 21-inch wheels for that matter), come with pointy bits that are meant to look like ugolas (the dangly bit at the back of the throat).
At the rear, the Grecale has boomerang tail lights that are inspired by the Giugiaro 3200 GT, a rear splitter and quad exhaust tips that simply scream when under high revs. While we’re discussing the rear end, although the Modena is the more family-friendly, it has a slightly smaller luggage area than the Trofeo’s 570L.
Under the business end of the Trofeo is a 3L Nettuno twin-turboed V6 engine (530hp (395kW)/620Nm) married to an eight-speed gearbox. 0-100km/h can be achieved in 3.8 seconds and a top speed that Maserati says is 285km/h. Now it’s easy to say that this is straight out of an MC20 because effectively it is, but the Grecale’s heart comes with a wet sump and whenever it’s coasting it’ll actually shut off half of the the cylinders, so it adds actually far more efficient (although efficient is not a word we explored when driving this model).
Now about that, or should I say those drives. In fairness, I had the Modena after the Trofeo and therefore it spent much of its time in and around my local neighbourhood. What that meant was I spent a fair amount of time playing with the Grecale’s infotainment and instrument clusters which I can happily report are quick and responsive and offer more treats than I would ever need/use.
Among the high list of standouts for me were the multiple uses of the Maserati timepiece, from the classic look clock to voice acknowledgement and g-force monitor, 360 camera views, the touch and swipe AC temp and fan screen and who can go past the Sonus Faber sound system, not just for its quality of sound but for its laser cut speaker fronts that you could grate parmesan on.
Another cool feature for around town are the paddles. Not are these large aluminium paddles great to look at and touch, but should you need to do a three point turn, they swap between forward and reverse gears with a pull on the left or right paddle. It’s quite ingenious
I ventured further afield in the Trofeo, and headed for the twists and turns (and other engaging roading designs) that surround Clevedon and the Kawakawa Bay coastline.
Let’s cut straight to the chase, the Grecale Trofeo adds ‘Corsa’ to its list of driving modes and with that comes the ability to engage launch control and push the performance gauges to the max – while remaining law abiding of course.
My 0-100km/h time (with three on board) was 3.9 seconds, but I can honestly say that it felt MUCH quicker than that, with EV speed queasiness to prove it, and the soundtrack that joins the V6 at high revs is even better than the Sonus – however, I had to keep the performance SUV in manual to really enjoy the tune else I would have lost my licence.
The steering is arguably the best in the category with the feedback from the road flowing to the driver in droves. I have heard that Maserati were late in switching from a traditional steering rack as ‘feedback’ is what the ‘Tridente’ like – but I’m sure they’ll appreciate this electronic version.
The chassis is strong and the ride is firm, even on the softest setting, but as I said before, there are other models that are more culo and/or family friendly, however, the cabin remains a quiet place to be (in terms of road noise that is).
Stretching the legs of the Trofeo is a simple affair and under heavy acceleration the gears change up with an almighty phwap, it acts like a big middle finger to the vehicle you overtake, but don’t worry about offending them, a few seconds later they can’t be seen in your rear view mirror.
The Grecale comes with a head up display, a big windscreen up front and a clear enough windscreen out the back, the side mirrors are large too making visibility pretty good all round, however, the a-pillars are quite sizable, so if you’re going through those tight cornered Gorges or maybe the Italian Alps, I feel that you may struggle to see around the corners, but I still managed three times the recommended cornering speed without a hint of tyre squeal.
The Grecale claims a number of ‘category leading’ features, however, when it comes to size, performance, style, prestige and price, (aside from the Macan) it kind of sits in its own category which in turn makes it rather unique and head turning. The GT and Modena offers more than enough ‘bang for buck’ elements to satisfy and enjoy, but for me, the Trofeo is where it’s at. It exemplifies both the model and brand values and just quietly, made it really hard to give the key back – ciao