Ticking the boxes to potentially be a volume seller for Maserati, we were invited to the first media drive of the Grecale in South Africa. Our Digital Editor Alex Shahini deliberates on whether this SUV has the ability to live up to expectations.
Maserati Grecale Modena Fast Facts
- Price:R2 320 000
- Powertrain: 2,0-litre turbocharged inline-four-cylinder, mild hybrid
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Power: 243 kW
- Torque: 450 N.m
- Driven wheels: all
- 0-100 km/h: 5,3 seconds
- Top speed: 240 km/h
What are we driving?
We are living in a new age. Nameplates that forged their respective legacies through low-slung, open-top racers an epoch ago now need to strategically reposition themselves to offer models that cater to the evolving needs of global buyers. Sales numbers don’t lie in this brutal world that only panders to those who adapt. SUVs festooned with digital screens and convenient tech are now paramount over driver engagement and traditional performance offerings. Want to increase market share? Fill the gap in with an SUV.
Enter the Grecale, the newcomer Maserati South Africa insists will be a volume seller and breach into a new market of aspiring buyers.
Why is the Maserati Grecale significant?
Working my way through Monday morning traffic en route to my Italian rendezvous, I had the opportunity to take note of the dozens of different high-end SUVs milling around Sandton and Bryanston. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see what mobility the moneyed direct their finances towards for their daily errands.
Peak-hour traffic, kids biding their time in the back seats while parents chauffeur their way around the city’s rutted and ill-maintained road network. A sleek, stylish, versatile and affordable model to handle those commutes is the piece of the pie Maserati is hoping to claim with the Grecale.
What’s new on the Maserati Grecale?
On the surface, the model retains all the hallmarks that have distinguished Maserati for generations. The consuming grille housing the Trident symbol, flanked by a new headlamp design language that moves away from what’s featured on Levante, Quattroporte and Ghibli and now aligns itself with the design-award-winning MC20 – as well as future models.
Satisfying creature comforts, the Grecale also inherits a healthy dose of tech, including electronic door handles, a head-up display and a central control panel for comfort and driving aids, among many others.
A crucial piece of the puzzle is its underpinnings; a new car the Grecale is, but it is constructed on the lauded and dynamic Giorgio platform launched by its Italian stablemates Alfa Romeo. Available in three flavours, buyers can opt for the entry-level GT, the tested Modena and the full-fat Trofeo, which is the only derivative offered with a detuned version of the MC20’s 3,0-litre V6. All others are equipped with the same 2,0-litre inline four-cylinder which is again, carried over from Alfa Romeo, and replete with a 48-Volt mild hybrid system.
Related: Review: Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce
What is the Maserati Grecale like to drive?
Despite what some may think of platform sharing, this is all good news for the Grecale. Without getting into the driver’s seat, I already knew what to expect. The Stelvio, serving as the Biscione badged flagship is still considered one of the most pleasing and rewarding SUVs in the market and the good news is those characteristics have carried over to its Trident badged counterpart.
With an open route and the news that I had the full day with the model, I decided to use it exactly how it is intended…
Before departing, I was given some insight into the buyer Maserati believes the Grecale will find. Unlike most other offerings from the Italian brand, the Grecale is anticipated to be the perfect balance between a daily driver and exclusive offering; hence the marketing phrase Everyday Exceptional. Time to run some errands then.
Three drive modes available for on-road use, I set out at a leisurely pace in Comfort. William Nicol traffic not abating, I rolled seamlessly forward at a snail’s-pace to the dysfunctional intersection. I fiddled further with all four digital displays in the front row. The digital driver’s display configurable with several styles and capable of displaying other pertinent car information and drive-related gimmicks. Interestingly, the centrally mounted Maserati clockface has now also been digitized for the first time and can configured for driving information or as the in-car concierge, operated via voice control.
Finally through the traffic obstacle, the Maserati could jump onto the highway for its first cruising stint. Apple CarPlay screen replication done wirelessly allowed the 14-speaker Sonus faber system to cancel out the minimal road noise there was. While cruise control was engaged, it would have to be manually overridden when encountering fast lane hogs travelling well below the set speed limit in the Maserati, no adaptive technology here.
In cornering and nipping around suburbs, the SUV handled superlatively, as expected. The insignificant body roll not enough to unsettle the added heft of the hybrid system. Speaking of which, rotating the steering mounted dial to Sport mode livened things up; torque was instant and the 2,0-litre mill coped well with acceleration, 5-ish seconds to 100 seemed about right.
The unhappy recipient of all of this spirited driving was the fuel consumption. Even with the hybrid system, the Grecale could only muster numbers above 11 L/100 km between the mixed driving scenario of the day. The claimed 9,3 L/100 km figure isn’t impossible with a civilised driver at the helm, but it still feels an increment too high considering it employs a hybridized powertrain. Fortunately, it is all relative in comparison to its rivals and still on the more frugal side of the Maserati stables.
What are the new Maserati Grecale’s rivals?
With the might of the Mediterranean wind after which it is named, the Grecale hopes to unsettle the usual compact luxury crossover SUVs that have become firm favourites in the segment. The entry-level GT has been benchmarked against Range Rover’s Velar and Porsche’s Macan, as well as the BMW X4, Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe and Alfa Romeo Stelvio on which it shares a platform with.
Not forthcoming with claimed performance figures, Maserati states that the Grecale boasts best-in-class rear occupant legroom and cargo space alluding to its intended function of being a friendly, usable daily driver.
What does the new Maserati Grecale cost?
As previously mentioned, the range is divided into 3 options – the former two employ the same hybridized powertrain in different states of tune while the Trofeo promises the most visceral experience with 390 kW and 620 N.m from the Nettuno V6.
- Maserati Grecale GT – R1 799 000
- Maserati Grecale Modena – R2 320 000
- Maserati Grecale Trofeo – R2 920 000
“Italian style” – words that security guards manning booms and bystanders remarked to me. Even in its understated dark hue, the Trident badge on that iconic grille served as a reminder that despite a greater price when compared to its rivals, the Grecale still offers a sense of exclusivity and flare that German and English counterparts arguably lack. 100 units annually is what Maserati South Africa is hoping to achieve across the board for the Grecale, striking a balance between retaining brand exclusivity and welcomed sales.
In the lineup, the middle-of-the-road Modena oozes charisma but considering it shares the same powertrain, despite more power, with the significantly cheaper GT, the latter will likely be the most popular choice for new buyers entering the brand. Bringing it back into the affluent confines of Bryanston, the Levante Trofeo awaiting a new owner with its 3,8-litre V8 seemingly a far cry from the visceral and obstreperous motors Maserati once offered. In all of its forms, the bigger SUV accounts for almost 70% of total sales locally but its dated platform from 2016 will have to make way for a new star child; the Grecale and its electrified twin; the Grecale Folgore.