Maserati is a brand that needs little introduction. After the past few years where the historic Italian racing brand let its portfolio go way past its expiry date, it has suddenly come back with two new products – the high-performance MC20, and an all-new midsize SUV called the Grecale. We were excited to find out that the Grecale, in its hottest trim, shares an engine with the MC20 and we quickly snatched the keys – this is the 2023 Maserati Grecale Trofeo.
Much like the refreshed GranTurismo and the MC20, the Maserati Grecale is styled using a new vertical design language that includes new headlight designs positioned parallel to the front fenders – a vast departure from what we are used to seeing over the past decade. It took us a few days to get used to the new front end but eventually we learned to appreciate the aggressive looks and how they accentuate the Grecale’s athleticism.
There are still plenty of traditional styling cues to remind you of the Grecale’s heritage, such as the prominent shark-nosed front grille, the signature triple-vents on the front fenders, the boomerang taillights which Maserati says is inspired by the Giugiaro 3200 GT, and of course the historic Neptune’s trident logos all-around – we counted eleven of them just on the outside. Our top-of-the-line Trofeo sports a bolder front grille, wider rear track, special badging, as well as sportier wheel and exhaust tip design to hint bystanders of its fire-breathing performance lying under the long hood.
The special powerplant found in the Grecale Trofeo is a new 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 codenamed Nettuno. Power output is slightly detuned from the MC20 to 523-horsepower and 457 lb-ft. of torque, it’s still plentiful to get the Grecale Trofeo going quickly. When the turbochargers are not spooled, the Grecale Trofeo is docile and might even seem a little sluggish, but once that exhaust back pressure is built up and the turbos are spinning, the Italian performance SUV will reward you with a surge that can easily put many sports cars to shame.
A sprint to 100km/h takes only 3.8 seconds – closely matching that of the BMW X3 M Competition and the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio – and, if you are at a closed environment and if you dare, the Grecale Trofeo will keep going until it reaches its 285 km/h top speed. We would have preferred a little louder grunt to be heard inside, especially during cold starts and wide-open throttle application, but the exhaust does a good job to make up part of that aural pleasure with a fiery bark during every aggressive upshift.
Handling is where the Grecale Trofeo truly shines above the rest – steering has the perfect balance of weight and feedback, and there is actually good road feel despite being equipped with winter tires during our test. On the back roads, you will easily forget that the Grecale Trofeo is actually closer to the BMW X5 in length than the X3. It feels balanced in the corners, the Brembo brakes offer top-notch confidence, and the rear-biased all-wheel drive system is excellent in putting power down smoothly. It is remarkable how the Grecale Trofeo manages to stay flat through the corners.
Fuel economy is rated at 11.2L/100km in combined driving, and our result came in at a higher 13.6/100km. We attribute the additional consumption to our liberal use of the Sport mode, which lowers the vehicle, maximizes engine boost, opens up the exhaust valves, and increases throttle, transmission and steering response to the highest sensitivity. There is also a dedicated Corsa mode for the Grecale Trofeo that dials down the driving assistance system and turns on Launch Control for maximum engagement.
The Grecale’s interior is a beautiful place to spend time; it features a good mix of luxury and sportiness, and we love the multi-function digital clock atop the dashboard that can be used for telling time, cardinal directions, G-forces, and pedal usage. There is a variety of premium materials in the cabin with contrast stitching, carbon fibre, perforated as well as smooth leather, and a fair bit of metal to satisfy the pickiest shoppers. We were concerned with some of the fit and finish inside, such as the gap on the storage deck lid when closed and the sharpness of the metal speaker grilles.
The touchscreen is nicely integrated and is well within reach for the driver. Infotainment is relatively intuitive and we love the accuracy and responsiveness of the touch-control on both of the panels. There is a fair amount of function that can be customized within the shortcut menu and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is supported wirelessly. Our tester is equipped with the upgraded Sonus Faber High Premium Sound system with 21 speakers that fills the space with crystal clear music quality.
Interior space is another strong suit on the Grecale – there is plenty of legroom for all five of us inside, and the headroom is not a total demerit despite its raked roofline. The sports seats are supportive with enough cushioning for longer journeys, and the panoramic sunroof made for a bright and airy space. Trunk volume is measured at 570 litres with a wide and deep opening for larger items.
We encountered some minor glitches throughout the week. For example, the infotainment would sometimes fail to connect to our smartphone, or we would get a ‘key not detected’ message while holding the key sitting in the driver’s seat. The Grecale also woke up our neighbours more than once with its alarm randomly going off. You can file this as the Grecale being in early production, however, they could very well be part of the quirks of Italian car ownership.
With the optional Driver Assistance Plus Package equipped, the Grecale Trofeo is quite competitive with other premium SUVs in the market as it too has most of the latest driving assistance technology, including Intersection Collision Assist, Active Driving Assist, Active Lane Management, and Intelligent Speed Assist. All of these can help avoid getting into too much trouble too quickly.
The 2023 Grecale starts at a reasonable $75,200 for the GT model with the 295-horsepower four-cylinder engine. The sticker jumps quickly to $129,500 for the Trofeo and our fully loaded model rings in at just over $144,000. This price tag is staggering when you look around the marketplace at other similar performance crossovers such as the BMW X3 M Competition and the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 costing at least $20,000 less.
The 2023 Maserati Grecale Trofeo is wickedly fast and can handle like the best of them, but not without some downsides, especially its asking price. However, when you factor in the brand’s rich racing pedigree and prestigious brand recognition, we can see why this can be an appealing option for those looking for a go-fast family car and wanted something a bit more special than the typical German offerings.
2022 Maserati Levante Modena S