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Ride like the wind – Maserati Grecale first drive

As with the many of their nameplates as far back as the ‘60s, prestigious Italian automotive brand Maserati’s all-new Grecale is named after a famous Mediterranean wind. But more importantly, whichever model you find yourself behind the wheel of (GT, Modena or Trofeo), this terrific SUV is like riding a tornado. 

The Grecale may be the latest and most modern model to come from Maserati, but it still holds true to their all-Italian heritage and has numerous nods to the models that have come before it.

The nose features an unmistakable Maserati grille that sits remarkably low for an SUV. The trident logo is front and centre and sits below what we found out was the ugola (the dangly bit at the back of the throat) – As it turns out, these ugolas are also on the wheels, who knew!

Maserati Grecale review NZ

Anyway, the headlights are inspired by the MC20 (particularly with the DRLs) and the large lower air vents allow for plenty of airflow into the engine bay and around its distinctive silhouette. The front wings offer both the model variant identifier and the triple side air vents that have been an essential element in Maserati designs since 1947. 

Maserati Grecale review NZ

Wheels range from 19-21” and come with amazing names like Thetis, Crio and Pegaso, and all keep this 4.85m long, 1.67m tall luxurious SUV firmly planted on the road. The remainder of this SUV’s unconventional profile comes complete with a trident on the c-pillar and a larger than normal fuel flap (to make way for EV charging in the yet to arrive Folgore), while the rear features boomerang tail lights that are inspired by the Giugiaro 3200 GT and quad exhaust tips. 

Maserati Grecale review NZ

‘Best in class’ are the claims made due to the Grecale’s great use of interior space and comfort, but it’s also superior to many when it comes to driveability, handling, acceleration (Trofeo), top speed (again the Trofeo), sound quality and extensive use of fine materials such as wood, carbon fibre and leather – it sounds like a stretch, but it all seems to fit when you step inside.

Maserati Grecale review NZ

There has been a move towards materials and finishes recently that ‘feel’ or ‘look’ like a particular thing, whether that’s wood or carbon fibre or whatever, but when you sit in a Maserati you really do discover what you’re missing. The scent of real leather, that tactility of real (yet highly treated) timber, woven carbon and aluminium that ‘tings’ when you flick it – hard to truly describe, but you know it when your senses meet it.

The technology has been vastly updated too, with a large 12.3” central screen that controls the infotainment and another 8.8” display below for the AC controls that has an ‘easy use’ swipe feature up for hotter, down for cooler and side to side to control the fan power – it’s soo good.

Maserati Grecale review NZ

Above the two central screens is the Grecale’s timepiece, which as well as being another classic Maserati ‘must have’, however it’s also a digital screen (a first for the brand) meaning that you can have the time delivered to you in analogue or digital with a variety of faces.

Maserati Grecale review NZ

The instrument cluster is digital too, offering clean and clear information to the driver and there’s an optional head up display that even allows you to keep your polaroid sunglasses on!

For those audiophiles amongst you, the Grecale’s sounds are provided by an immersive Sonus faber 3D sound system with up to 21 speakers, however, I must admit to preferring the exquisite notes that come from under the bonnet, particularly the Trofeo’s V6.

The dashboard stitching takes up the double saddle style and the seats are Maserati embossed, this is one seriously chic SUV.

Maserati Grecale review NZ

The Grecale is available in three versions, GT, powered by a four-cylinder mild hybrid engine capable of delivering 300hp (224kW); Modena, with a four-cylinder 330hp (246kW) mild hybrid engine; and Trofeo, powered by a high-performance 530hp (395kW) petrol V6 based on the MC20 Nettuno engine. Later, the Grecale range will be completed with the debut of the Full-Electric version, using 400V technology.

Maserati Grecale review NZ

Our drive day macan, oops I meant began at the Winger showroom in Newmarket Auckland and included all the above information, plus some breakfast treats and a couple of double shot coffees. It was going to be a great day.

With the formalities out of the way, we jumped into our Grecale’s and hit the road, north towards Warkworth, and as luck would have it, I got the base (base being better than many brand’s top) level GT to start.

The SH1 drive was as expected, I mean a luxury SUV with a hefty-enough engine, travelling along a crowded part of NZ’s busiest highway at under the legal speed limit, sigh. However, what this did allow me to do was get better acquainted with the increased ADAS (advanced Driver Assistance Systems) for which there are many. 

Maserati Grecale

Finding a park at Warkworth mid week was harder than I thought it would be, it seems that everyone had the same idea. Anyway, the bonus in needing to circle the tighter town roads and conduct three-point turns had me use another new feature in the Grecale and that’s the paddles! 

Yes I am fully aware that Maseratis come with fixed paddles in glorious aluminium and I also know that they are used for racing up and down the gearbox, however, rather than a traditional gear stick, the drive selection (D, R, P etc) is done via a row of buttons below the infotainment screen. So the clever folk at Maserati decided that during faster drive/reverse needs (such as 3-point turns), instead of reaching over to the buttons, the paddles double as a forward and reverse selectors – it’s a really good idea. 

With another coffee under the belt (and the belt loosened), I changed up a gear to the Modena and headed West to Good from Scratch cooking school in Muriwai. Don’t worry, we didn’t have to cook our own lunch.

The drive across the narrow breadth of NZ was, shall we say, ‘more spirited’. The additional horses in the Modena had us galloping along nicely (5.3 seconds 0-100km/h) and the skyhook adaptive suspension/21-inch feet combo gobbled up the bends with flair. The drive mode dial on the steering wheel was turned to Sport and both SUV and driver enjoyed the ride.

Lunch was a jocular affair with a delicious menu prepared by none other than celeb chefs Michael and Belinda and just as the Grecale is Italian through and through, all our lunch was sourced locally (aside from the prawns).

Suitably fed and watered, it was time to head back to Newmarket, for me that was in the Trofeo, and that meant taking the long way. 

Of course the Trofeo is the pick of the trio and the exhaust note alone should have you reaching for your Amex card. It’s stupidly quick with a 0-100km/h time of 3.8 seconds and the aforementioned engine sound is amplified in the cabin thanks to its pairing with the immersive Sonus faber multi-dimensional sound system.

Again the drive mode dial was twisted clockwise and for a brief moment I even had this SUV rocket in Corsa, but once I realised that this race mode switched off a lot of the assists I went back to Sport – man’s gotta know his limits.

The crackle and bangs from the exhaust is loud enough to wake the dead, but the speed and handling that the Trofeo provides would leave the grim reaper shaking his scythe in disbelief, this is a luxury SUV after all. To really understand just how much fun I was having, I did get a call from Maserati in Newmarket asking if I was in fact going to return with their car!

Maserati Grecale

Everyday Exceptional is the motto that the Maserati Grecale has been labelled with and it’s easy to understand why. The GT, Modena, Trofeo should be renamed great, greater and greatest and the thrills and smiles grow with each rung of the nameplate’s ladder too. I should be getting a follow up drive in the near future, but then again Maserati may be worried that next time I really won’t give it back.

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