New Maserati Grecale 2023 review
The new Maserati Grecale SUV takes the fight to its premium rivals, but does it succeed? We find out...
For those who have become weary of fast, German SUVs, the Grecale makes for a compelling alternative. We love the cabin quality and design, it’s spacious, and while the chassis isn’t the most accomplished in its segment, it’s a fine effort overall. However, the four-cylinder powertrain isn’t particularly thrilling, especially when you consider that, for much less money, you could have a Porsche Macan with a V6 instead. At the very least, the Grecale makes you question why anyone would want to buy a Levante right now, which shows how much of a step forward the brand is taking.
Maserati returned to a rich vein of form with its MC20 sports car, but it’s SUVs that will keep the company afloat – and the mid-size Grecale means potential for big profits if Maserati gets it right. Having driven the base-spec GT model on the international launch, it proved to show promise.
Now however, it’s time to try the Porsche Macan rival on UK roads, and in mid-spec Modena trim, to see if we can uncover any more sophistication (or any possible flaws) that smooth, European asphalt didn’t reveal.
From a design point of view, the simple fact that it has a little more grace than a BMW X3 M, and a fresher look than a Macan, will be enough for some people alone. It’s a look which doesn’t demand attention like most of its German rivals. It’s also a design which offers a more modern interpretation of Maserati’s design language than its first SUV, the Levante.
Inside, things get even better. The cabin, in terms of appearance, quality and practicality, hits the mark. Touch points like the leather upholstery on the supportive front seats, the steering wheel, and the lovely metal paddle shifters mounted just behind on the column, all feel very expensive, while the customisable clock at the top of the dash takes a classic Maserati design cue into the digital era.
There are a further two screens beneath the clock; a standard infotainment display is slick enough (even if some on-screen keys are a little small), while a secondary panel deals with a range of other controls. Separating the climate functions from the main display is a neat idea, but putting the control of something so fundamental as the headlights on here seems like a poor choice.
There's good news behind that, too. There’s much more rear legroom than you get in a Macan, and the 535-litre boot isn’t far shy of the Levante, despite the newcomer being lower, narrower, and 160mm shorter.
But while the everyday stuff has been ticked off convincingly, the Grecale has some stiff competition in its class in the driving stakes. In some ways, it manages to impress here. As part of the Stellantis brand, Maserati had the opportunity to dive into a great depth of technical stock on which to build upon for its second SUV, following on from the Levante. It’s underpinned by a version of the Giorgio platform, which is used by both the Alfa Romeo Guilia and Stelvio - not to mention the very talented Quadrifoglio versions of both - which isn’t a bad place to start at all.
It doesn’t quite hit those cars’ heights though. Find a twisty road, and the chassis is something that takes a little while to get your head around. The Grecale’s turn-in feels quite keen, initially lending it a greater feeling of agility than pretty much any of its rivals. However, once the car is loaded up, the handling feels a little lethargic; reluctant to waver from a slightly nose-heavy balance.
At a cruise, that sharp steering translates into hyperactivity which never quite settles down. Very little detail is transmitted from the road to your hands, so you’re left with a feeling of fidget through the steering wheel as you go over bumps.
The ride itself is on the firm side, but is never harsh, but over worse surfaces it can jiggle around quite a bit. The adaptive dampers can be controlled independently of the main drive modes, so we found ourselves leaving the dampers in their more forgiving setting, which manages to take the edge off somewhat. Motorway refinement is fine, but that steering makes it feel a little more lively than some alternatives.
Maserati gives buyers a choice of three different engines. The range-topper gets a version of the MC20’s ‘Nettuno’ 3.0-litre twin turbo V6 with 523bhp - not only comfortably more than the current pinnacle of the Macan lineup, the 434bhp GTS, but also 20bhp up on the recently refreshed BMW X3 M Competition.
Below that sits a pair of 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo units; the GT with 296bhp which left us a little underwhelmed with its performance, and our more potent Modena, with 325bhp, doesn’t really change that.
On the plus side, the throttle response is keen, and the 450Nm peak torque makes it feel gutsy enough at low revs. However, if you’re tempted to extend the engine further, you’ll find little incentive or joy to be had by going close to the red line. The same can be said of the four-cylinder Macans to a degree though, but their exhausts don’t emit fake-sounding upshift parps which come across as a bit tasteless for a car with an otherwise classy character.
There is a bigger issue, however, and that’s the price. The range starts from £61,570; at that price, you don’t have to settle for a four cylinder Macan, because the S, cheaper at £59,800, comes with a 2.9-litre V6 with 375bhp. This modena version comes to £67,810, which is only £3,890 less than a Macan GTS, with 434bhp and a 169mph top speed. Once you consider the residual values - the Modena is predicted to hold onto just over 55 per cent of its original value after three years, while the GTS, at over 70 per cent, is one of the slowest depreciating cars on sale today - and the Grecale very much needs to be a heart-over-head purchase.
|Model:||Maserati Grecale Modena|
|Engine:||2.0-litre 4 cyl turbo MHEV|
|Transmission:||Eight-speed auto, four-wheel drive|