Ninety-nine thousand, seven hundred pounds is a lot of money for an SUV about the size of a Nissan Qashqai. But, on the other hand, you might also say that £99,700 is a small price to pay for a new…Maserati.
The new Maserati in question is the just-launched Grecale, which, by the way, has nothing to do with being Greek or something, but is named after a wind that sweeps into northern Italy from the Med (naming its models thus has been a romantic tradition for the brand since the sublime Mistral was born in 1963).
The Grecale Trofeo variant is the priciest of the range, and very much the collector’s car, if only because that price tag guarantees rarity. It also, by the way, guarantees profitability for Maserati, which seems to be becoming a super-premium money spinner for its parent, the Stellantis group, a sprawling empire that knocks out Vauxhalls, Citroens, Peugeots, Fiats, Jeeps and Alfa Romeos, among other brands. The Grecale shares some of its underpinnings with Jeeps and the Alfa Stelvio SUV, alongside which it is built in the former Fiat factory in Cassino, Italy. So it is genuinely Italian, though not exactly from the heartland of the bespoke supercars.
Maserati Grecale Trofeo
Price: £107,605 (as tested; model starts at £99,700, range from £61,570)
Engine capacity: 2.0l petrol, V6 cyl, 8sp auto
Power (hp): 530
Top speed (mph): 177
0-60 (seconds): 3.8
Fuel economy (mpg): 25.2
CO2 emissions (WLTP, g/km): 254
No matter. The Grecale is exquisitely finished and has artisan touches everywhere you look (even if it’s hardly hand-built), from the contrasting stitching in the trim to Trident motifs in the seat backs to the aluminium paddles behind the steering wheel with which you can override the (pretty responsive) automatic gearbox, with the transmission controlled by buttons on the dash. Often overlooked by reviewers, the premium Sonus faber immersive sound system is also quite a work of craftsmanship, and outstanding. I only wish I had the aural capacity to make the most of the myriad of effects available via 21 speakers and a thumping sub-woofer built into the lining of the boot.
The attractive twin touchscreens work as well as they do in any modern car, which is to say they aren’t quite ideal, but there’s sufficient buttons on the steering wheel to allow you to concentrate on driving this 500+ horsepower machine. The Grecale Trofeo is especially well-finished with lashings of wood, carbon fibre and leather (no vegan option yet), lavishly equipped, and, crucially, goes like the wind. It has the Nettuno V6 from the new MC20 supercar plonked in under the bonnet. So it will take you well on the way to 200mph, and from a standstill to 60mph before you can count to four – in a two-tonne car! It does it all with a pleasing soundtrack and a sense of perfect composure; more understated than Maserati’s outrageously styled sports cars that scream for attention.
On the whole, I preferred the Stelvio Quadrifoglio I tried some months ago, a sibling, but the Maserati is certainly the more special, exclusive model. Like the fastest Stelvio, the Grecale Trofeo is a strange mix of exhilarating supercar and workaday SUV, but the variable damaging, wide rear track and progressive brakes mean that most of the time you do get the best of both worlds. Despite all the impressive engineering and brio, however, it isn’t really the kind of vehicle you’d want to chuck around. For the truly well-heeled, the Grecale Trofeo makes a fine companion to an MC20 or Cielo convertible in the archetypal dream two-car garage.
As Maserati likes to see it, the Grecale is “everyday exceptional”. It likes to think of the Grecale as being up against the Porsche Macan, Range Rover Velar and Mercedes GLC Coupe among others, which represent some very stiff competition. As it implies, the Maserati will be the rarer sight on the road. Funnily enough, given its origins, it’s also the most practical in its class in terms of rear passenger and boot space. Qashqai owners trading up from their own excellent all-rounder will love it.
The more everyday, slightly less exceptional options are the entry level (I use the term advisedly – £61,570) Grecale GT and Grecale Modena, the latter of which has a slightly higher power output from the two-litre petrol engine with mild hybrid battery boost. As it happens, both these lesser models offer almost as rewarding a drive in real-world conditions as the Trofeo when it comes to Britain’s crowded, pot-holed roads, and with a sizeable discount to the high-performance variant. They’re all pretty heavy on fuel, you should know, with commensurate carbon dioxide emissions; but an all-electric battery powered Grecale, the Folgore, is on the way.
This new Maserati model is a vote of confidence in the illustrious name and another sign that the marque is undergoing something of a revival, given that it’s Stellantis’s most upscale badge. The Grecale will have to be around for a while to be financially sustainable, given its expected relatively small sales volumes, and so the brand has tried to give it a timeless sort of style, or “Visual Longevity” in Maserati-speak. It does, sadly, tend a little towards the generic SUV-coupe look that’s so fashionable now, but it’s hard to know what it could do apart from going full wacko like the (larger) Lamborghini Urus, say, which would be a bit of a risk. Like the Stelvio, and the Macan’s basic shape for that matter, it should stand the test of time.
The prominent front grille, trident badging and various bits of chrome and red detailing lift it from the mainstream, fortunately, and it’s wisely avoided the gargoyle-like faces spotted by current BMWs and Mercedes. As you’d expect, the Grecale is a very elegant, very civilised, very well-mannered machine. Very much a Maserati, in fact. If you’ve got a hundred grand to spare…