Maserati did take its time to enter the fray. It’s fair to say that the larger Maserati Levante SUV didn’t quite set the automotive market alight in a segment where the Porsche Cayenne and BMW X5 dominate. Now, the new Grecale GT mild hybrid SUV built on the FCA Giorgio platform is tasked with significantly increasing Maserati’s chances against competition like the Porsche Macan, BMW X3/X4 and Jaguar F-Pace.
From the outside, the Grecale is clearly inspired by the Levante but gets a different headlight design. Meanwhile, its very reasonable ride height makes the Grecale GT easily accessible, especially useful for any passengers in the back. It’s practical but the luxury touches throughout also make it a desirable car to spend time in!
While the Grecale’s exterior feels a little SUV generic, signature Maserati grille aside, inside it’s a different story.
Maserati has aced the cabin of the new car, for the most part, with acres of sumptuous leather and soft-touch materials. It really does feel special inside! The seats are supple yet supportive, and thanks to power adjustment, finding your ideal driving position is a cinch. The power-adjustable steering wheel helps, too. There are plenty of finely knurled dials and knobs, and they lend the cabin an old-school charm in a sea of modernity. They feel well crafted, with a solidity often missing in today’s new cars.
The Grecale GT’s near-symmetrical dashboard clearly partitions the driver and front passenger sections. And unlike Maserati’s of the past that came with an analogue timepiece, the new car gets a digital unit with additional functions like a compass, G-force meter and emitting a visual response signal when a voice command is issued.
The list of displays found in the cabin includes a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 12.3-inch central touchscreen, the latter sitting just above another 8.8-inch touchscreen. The stacked displays are linked to the Maserati Intelligent Assistant (MIA), which is the company’s latest infotainment system built on Google’s Android Auto OS. There’s also a 14-speaker Sonus Faber premium sound system, a surround-view camera, a powered tailgate and dual-zone climate control as standard.
But any Maserati fan will also tell you that the brand’s cars offer exceptional sound qualities. The Grecale GT is no different, although this has a somewhat gruff engine note that’s perhaps a bit at odds with Maseratis of past. But of course, exhaust notes and engine sounds are just one small part of the equation, mind you!
The real test is in the performance, and the Grecale conducts itself with a level of ability. Its suspension is nicely balanced for our patchy rural road conditions and the Grecale GT offered a compliant ride, absorbing bumps and lumps comfortably while also remaining settled over larger hits such as speed bumps.
Officially, the Grecale GT does 0–100km/h in 5.6 seconds, which is decently quick, if not earth-shattering. On the road from PJ to Janda Baik recently, it certainly feels quick when on the move around town, moving away from a standstill briskly without too much fanfare. The 2.0-litre turbocharged engine revs freely with a pleasing growl, and the transmission clicks off quick shifts either on its own according to which of the five modes is selected (Comfort, GT, Sport, Race, and Off-Road) or via the shift paddles on the steering wheel.
Chassis and powertrain behaviour in each of the mentioned modes is overseen by Grecale’s Vehicle Dynamic Control Module (VDCM. Designed in-house and built off the MC20’s Chassis Domain Control Module (CDCM), the system is well-tuned to allow varying degrees of chassis slip in the different modes, too.
Some spirited driving on patchy roads also highlighted the damping qualities of the Grecale, remaining composed and flat through adventurous cornering. Yes, the Grecale starts to feel good when challenged, like how a real Maserati should! But it’s also equally as comfortable on the run home, long stretches of 110km/h motorway the canvas for an effortless and easy lope, the Grecale burbling along quietly (a little too quietly?) with little fanfare.
The eight-speed ZF-sourced automatic transmission is happy to be left to its own devices and displays a knack for selecting the right ratio as the situation demands. It’s equally at home cruising the highways as it is under harder acceleration and cornering, its ability to intuit the optimal gear a boon. For those who prefer a modicum of ‘manual’ driving, paddle shifters on the steering wheel offer crisp gear changes every time.
Sure, the Maserati Grecale can’t quite claim to be at the top of the luxury SUV pile, but buyers are set to get a lot of panache, exclusivity, and sumptuous materials for a reasonable upcharge – all in an engaging vehicle that never lets you forget where it was born!
For more information, visit the official Maserati website.