Following in the footsteps of the Levante, the all-new 2023 Maserati Grecale becomes the brand’s second ever SUV.
Considered a compact, it shares its basic platform with the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, with exterior dimensions that are larger than that model’s but slightly smaller than those of the Levante. The Grecale comes in GT and Modena trims, both of which are powered by a four-cylinder engine with a mild-hybrid system, while my tester was the V6-powered Trofeo. It starts at $131,700, including a non-negotiable delivery fee of $2,200. Mine had another $16,000 in options, bringing it to $147,700 before taxes.
There’s no mistaking the Grecale’s heritage, with its signature grille augmented by the brand’s trident logo. The 21-inch staggered wheels are standard, but it’s $650 for the painted calipers. The Grecale is well-proportioned, and the rear end features handsome two-piece tail lights and just enough chrome.
The cabin is equally good-looking, with horizontal metal dash accents that make it look wide and roomy, perforated leather inserts, and a touchscreen that’s integrated into the centre stack rather than mounted up top tablet-style.
The Grecale hasn’t been rated by the United States National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA), nor the not-for-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which affects its score here. As with many premium brands, a number of driver-assist features that are included on many mainstream models are extra-charge items on the Grecale. Mine had a $3,900 package that added adaptive cruise control that works in stop-and-go traffic, intersection collision alert, speed limiter, traffic sign recognition, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, and drowsy driver warning. It also had 360-degree cameras for $1,000.
The Grecale Trofeo’s standard features include carbon fibre trim, 14-way premium-leather heated sport seats with power bolsters, 12.3-inch instrument cluster and centre screens, remote engine start, auto-dimming mirrors. But there’s plenty that can be optioned, too. My tester had a Premium Plus package for $5,300 that added ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel and rear seats, heated windshield washer nozzles, and a spectacular 21-speaker audio system. Another $500 embroidered the trident logo into the front head restraints, while a $1,400 Technical Assist package added a head-up display and wireless phone charger.
Despite their generous bolsters, the seats are easy to enter and exit, and the Grecale works as well for the daily commute or running errands as it does for having fun. But once you’re inside, it all gets a little muddier. There are very few hard controls beyond the push-button gear selector, and functions such as climate control are managed through an 8.8-inch screen below the larger central one. Some operations require a few taps to actually get to what you’re trying to reach, and the screen can be frustratingly slow to start up and then to respond – especially if it’s cold.
Buttons on the steering wheel replace a volume knob on the screen, and there’s voice control for many functions. There are paddles for the transmission’s manual mode, and they’re fun for driving but they’re also very large, and it can be tough to reach the turn signal switch around the left-side one.
The Grecale is primarily a performance vehicle, but its sport-utility configuration lets you take everything you need for a weekend away and then some. Cargo volume is 570 L with the rear seats up in the Trofeo – 35 L more than the GT and Modena due to the placement of their hybrid battery. The seats fold 40/20/40 so you can carry longer items such as snowboards along with two people in the rear seats. The trunk rails with moveable tie-downs are a $500 option. And while it’s unlikely you’ll see one with a hitch, the Grecale can tow as much as 2,502 kg (5,516 lb) if the trailer has brakes and 750 lb (1,653 lb) without.
The Trofeo comes standard with 14-way front seats that include power bolsters, and they’re every bit as supportive as you’d expect. The rear seats are flatter but still just as comfortable, and with generous legroom, too. However, the heated seats take a long time to warm up, and when they do they eventually get very hot; and when you turn down the setting, they take an equally long time to cool down.
An air suspension with adaptive dampers is standard on the Trofeo. The ride is very smooth and comfortable in the touring drive mode; it tightens up in the sport mode but still maintains its composure, while the Trofeo-specific corsa track mode will jar your kidneys over bumps, but that’s to be expected.
The Trofeo’s twin-turbocharged 3.0L V6 is a version of the Nettuno engine found in the automaker’s MC20 sports car. In this iteration it makes 523 hp and 457 lb-ft of torque, with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. In comparison, the Grecale GT and Modena make 296 and 325 hp, respectively, while both deliver 332 lb-ft of torque.
That Trofeo engine is pretty much the proverbial iron fist in a velvet glove. Its acceleration will push you back in the seat – Maserati rates it at zero to 96 km/h in 3.6 seconds, with a top speed of 285 km/h – yet it’s smooth and linear, with a luxury feel rather than just all-out muscle for the sake of it. It outranks most competitors for horsepower, with Land Rover’s Range Rover Sport Dynamic delivering 434 hp; the BMW X3 M and X4 M offering 473 and 505 hp, respectively; plus there’s the 434-hp Porsche Macan GTS, and this Maserati’s Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio cousin that has 505 hp.
Driving Feel: 9/10
The steering is on the lighter side of well-weighted; it’s still a pleasure to take through the curves, although those used to piloting German sports cars may long for a bit more of an upper-arm workout. Although it’s a Maserati, it’s still a sport-utility, and that steering is responsive without being twitchy, and it’s well-suited to getting into tight parking spots and around city traffic. The all-wheel drive system is rear-biased and includes a self-locking rear differential for traction as needed.
Mild and composed in GT driving mode, the Trofeo tightens up in sport and then goes full-tilt in corso (race) mode, with even more torque bias shifted to the rear tires and with a launch mode function. In all modes, it’s beautifully balanced and stays flat around curves, and the six-piston front and four-piston rear ventilated brakes do a superb job of bringing it to a quick and straight halt. And on the off-chance that someone will actually take one off-road, the air suspension has two height settings for that.
Fuel Economy: 8/10
Fuel-sipping is obviously not the name of the game here, not when one has 523 hp at their disposal, but the Trofeo isn’t off the charts when compared with its lower-powered competitors. It’s officially rated by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) at 13.3 L/100 km in the city, 9.5 on the highway, and 11.6 in combined driving. I had fun with it and still averaged 15.0 L/100 km.
By comparison, the 505-hp Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is rated at 12.3 L/100 km in combined driving; the BMW X3 M at 13.9; the Range Rover Sport Dynamic HSE at 11.3; and the Porsche Macan GTS at 12.2 L/100 km.
At a starting price of $131,700 including destination – but before the numerous options available – the Grecale Trofeo is a budget-bender, especially when compared to some of its closer competitors. Its platform-related cousin, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, makes 505 hp to the Grecale’s 523 and starts at $104,190 (all prices including destination).
The 434-hp Range Rover Sport Dynamic HSE starts at $131,897; while the 473-hp BMW X3 M starts at $98,080 and the 505-hp X4 M at $99,780; and the Porsche Macan GTS, with 434 hp, is $90,050. Within the Grecale lineup, the GT starts at $77,400 and the Modena at $87,400; while the slightly larger Levante Modena S, which also uses the 523-hp V6 as the Grecale Trofeo does, starts at $150,700. The Levante also comes in Trofeo trim, but with a 572-hp V8 for $190,700.
The premium-performance segment is mostly ruled by the German automakers, and they do a very good job of it, but the 2023 Maserati Grecale Trofeo gives an alternative to put something different in the driveway. Most buyers will look at the lower-priced and lesser-powered trim levels, but if you’re shopping at the top among its competitors, the Grecale Trofeo offers a stylish exterior and beautiful cabin, and performance to match.
|Peak Horsepower||523 hp @ 6,500 rpm|
|Peak Torque||457 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||13.3 / 9.5 / 11.6 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||570 L seats up|
|Model Tested||2023 Maserati Grecale Trofeo|
|Price as Tested||$147,800|
$16,000 – Floor cargo rails, $500; 360-degree camera, $1,000; Driver Assistance Package, $3,900; Sport pedals, $250; Tech Assistance Package, $1,400; Premium Plus Package, $5,300; Painted calipers, $650; Stitched trident on head restraints, $500; Blu Intenso paint, $1,000; Full LED matrix headlights, $1,500