Aussies are crazy for hi-po SUVs in the mid-size luxury segment, with no less than six heritage brands in the mix but only the made-in-Italy 2024 Maserati Grecale Trofeo can boast a full-blown supercar engine under its bonnet and that oh-so-famous trident grille emblem.
Shoehorned deep into the engine bay is the same powerhouse 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged Nettuno V6 engine from Maserati’s MC20 mid-engined supercar, but for a couple of changes better suited for daily-driver duties.
In the wickedly quick MC20 this engine uses a dry sump making 463kW at 7500rpm and 730Nm from 3000rpm to 5500rpm whereas in the Grecale Trofeo it’s detuned and gets a wet sump for a maximum output of 390kW at 6500rpm and 620Nm between 3000rpm and 5500rpm.
Nevertheless, its performance out of blocks is on par with several of its rivals, which is to say it’s damn quick; but I’d suggest that’s not the only reason some buyers will gravitate towards Maserati’s offering over more established high-performance nameplates.
Take the guy in the my own street, and full-disclosure, he’s got an old GranTurismo parked in his garage beside his Benz work van. He’s had a Grecale Trofeo on order from the moment he saw it in the metal at an early reveal in Sydney, and simply won’t be swayed by me or anyone else that might have posed a few equally tasty high-powered options to consider.
For some, the storied Maserati brand with its iconic Trident badges and consummate luxury fitouts elevate the top-shelf Grecale to a more exclusive status that tends to sit above its go-fast competitors, even the range-topping Porsche Macan GTS.
It’s not outright gorgeous like the truly stunning new-generation GranTurismo, but then none of the luxury go-fast SUVs really are, given their high-riding, space-driven, daily-driver design requirements.
Nevertheless, the grille, side strakes and Trident badging is virtually the same as on the GT, though I can’t help think some gloss black cooling bonnet vents might have pointed more directly towards its supercar powertrain and range-topping status.
It’s got smooth, inoffensive lines, and the exhaust note, while not offensive, seems to incite a fair few looks every time I climb behind the wheel of this family-friendly Maserati. You don’t get that kind of attention in your Mercedes-AMG GLC or Porsche Macan.
Compared with the entry-level four-pot Grecale GT, which lists for $114,900 plus on-roads, the Trofeo asks big bucks from $175,000. And, while the bulk of those dollars are for the Nettuno V6, they also buy specialised hardware and software designed to cope with additional loads it generates.
For instance, the Grecale Trofeo gets bigger brakes, an electronic rear differential and height-adjustable air suspension as standard fitment, as opposed to cost options like on the four-cylinder variants.
Additionally, the less-powerful Grecales come with three drive modes only – Comfort, GT and Sport – but the Trofeo adds Corsa mode which sharpens up the throttle, transmission and braking responses, while at the same time limiting traction and stability control for greater driver input.
There’s a noticeable increase in damper rates going from Sport to Hard, and you better believe it does exactly what it says – just shy of rock hard. Maserati’s air suspension also allows for a dual-stage Off Road drive mode that raises the ride height by up to 30mm in 15mm increments.
The range-topping Maserati Grecale Trofeo costs $174,900 excluding on-road costs, while stepping down to the mid-spec Grecale Modena will lighten your wallet to the tune of $135,900. Entry-level is the Grecale GT from $114,900 – all prices are before on-road costs.
There’s also a fourth and all-electric version called the Folgore that’s due to arrive in the first half of 2024 with supercar levels of performance, though, pricing won’t be announced until closer to launch.
Our test car was also fitted with the following options:
- Metallic Paint – Grigio Lava: $2150
- Black brake calipers: $650
- Tech Assistance Pack: $3290.00
- Head-Up display
- IR Protection Windshield
- Wireless phone charging
- Sonus Faber 21-speaker sound system: $5950.00
Price as tested: $186,940 excluding on-road costs.
Rival makes and models include the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio Anniversario ($175,200) BMW X3 M Competition ($178,000), Jaguar F-Pace SVR ($153,700 – bargain), and Porsche Macan GTS: $143,200 – prices exclude on-road costs
2023 Maserati Grecale pricing:
- Maserati Grecale GT: $114,900
- Maserati Grecale Modena: $135,900
- Maserati Grecale Trofeo: $174,900
Prices exclude on-road costs
There’s nothing more enticing that Rosso leather upholstery against the Grigio Lava paintwork.
It stretches from top to bottom, at least from the dash to just below eye level, and is both beautifully sumptuous, yet equally supporting in all the right places.
That’s not to say its rivals don’t all look and feel premium inside, but none offer the Italian flair or exquisite ambience of the Maserati – and that’s across all variants. There’s just something more special about Grecale, whether that’s the quality of the hide, the seamless blend of high-end materials or even the embossed trident on the headrests.
Thankfully, Maserati also measures up in the tech department too, with no less than four crystal-clear screens incorporating the full spectrum of infotainment and driver configurability.
There’s a large driver’s display that offers plenty of customisation in terms of layout and information, but also going from one drive mode to another can automatically change the display – especially so if you choose ‘Corsa’ (race), which offers up a horizontal rev counter as well as a supersized gear position indicator.
Forward of the centre console are effectively two touchscreens in one, with the top unit devoted to infotainment such as vehicle settings, phone, navigation and audio controls; while the lower display handles all things climate including seat heating and cooling, as well as a sliding volume control.
There’s no gear shifter, not even a small one like Porsche has adopted. Instead, there’s a row of haptic buttons for the transmission modes, and while it definitely frees up more storage space, it’s also a bit annoying until you work out the precise level of finger pressure required to activate it – let’s just say you’ll need a firm touch.
If you can be bothered, there’s a fourth screen mounted at the top of the dash that doubles as a classic Maserati analogue clock, but it can also be configured to display a couple of digital versions, as well as showing performance data including G-forces and brake loads. The thing is, I’ve already forgotten how to access it.
I’m also a fan of Maserati’s relatively compact leather steering wheel, complete with start/stop and drive mode dials. It’s perfectly Porsche-like in thickness as well as incorporating an array of haptic buttons for phone, audio and adaptive cruise functions.
That luxury ambience so prevalent up front is also felt in the second row, thanks to that same Rosso leather trim that wraps everything from the map pockets to the air-con vents housing.
There’s plenty of carbon-fibre trim bits, too, only these are three-dimensional and without lacquer – the real-deal if you will. The Sonus Faber speaker grilles are laser-cut metal, while the electric door opener buttons are also knurled like each and every dial on the dash – even the vent controls.
It’s the Grecale that wins the space race, too, given its lengthy dimensions and class-leading 2901mm wheelbase, making it 94mm longer than that of the Macan, 83mm longer than the Stelvio and even 27mm longer than the F-Pace.
All of that is immediately obvious from the considerable rear legroom alone, though it’s a bit tighter in the middle seat given the transmission tunnel hump and reduced under-thigh support.
Nevertheless, there’s good ventilation back there and rear-seat passengers also get access to climate control as well as heated seats, dual-USB charging ports (bot -A and -C-type) and centre armrest with cupholders.
The 60/40 split-fold seats can be lowered using levers in either the boot or from each outer seat, making things easier for weekend getaways when load space rules.
There’s good boot space too, with no less than 570L behind the second row along with some underfloor storage in the Grecale Trofeo. No spare tyre though, as is the case with so many luxury vehicles these days, which simply provide a can of goo to get you home or to the nearest tyre repair centre.
In the MC20 this engine produces 463kW at 7500rpm and 730Nm. In the Grecale Trofeo it makes a still impressive 390kW at 6500rpm and 620Nm between 3000rpm and 5500rpm. Maserati claims the Grecale Trofeo will hit 100km/h in 3.8 seconds on the way to a top speed of 285km/h.
Rivals to Grecale which also claim the same 3.8-second 0-100km/h sprint time, include the outgoing Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S, BMW X3 M Competition and Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio. The Macan GTS claims a time of 4.3 seconds, while the F-Pace needs 4.0 seconds to complete the same standing-start dash.
The Grecale only gets a 64L fuel tank, and fuel consumption is a claimed 11.2L/100km on the combined cycle, whereas around town exclusively, it’s closer to 17.4L/100km.
At times when feathering the throttle to and from work I saw low 10’s, but the moment you start having a bit fun in Corsa and you’re not going to see any less 18L/100km, and frankly, I was expecting worse. But it all depends on driving style and traffic conditions.
The left-hand button on the steering requires a firm press to fire up the Nettuno V6 under the bonnet, but even in the default GT mode, it sounds exotic at heart.
There’s a Comfort mode that soaks up most of the bumps, but if you want more noise then Sport dials up the exhaust decibels, but never to an offensive level. Even in its most aggressive ‘Corsa’ setting, which emits a few well-chosen pops and crackles on lift off, it’s still far more well behaved compared to the current V8-powered AMG GLC 63 S.
The steering wheel-mounted drive mode dial makes it easy to switch back and forth between modes, and to honest I spent a good deal of my time behind the wheel of the Grecale Trofeo in Corsa – not just for the louder noise, but for the sharper throttle, transmission and brake pedal feel you get with it.
Best you save it for smoother sections of road though, because it also puts the dampers into ‘rock-hard’ mode, which is fine even over coarse-chip surfaces, but bone-jarring over sharper-edged imperfections on its 21-inch alloys shod with low-profile Bridgestone Potenza rubber.
Unless you’re driving on Sydney’s worst roads – and there are a few of those – GT is well calibrated for the daily drive, including the occasional punch of the throttle during quick lane changes and the like.
Dialling up Sport also gives you a more boisterous note, but simply with a press of the secondary button in the centre of the drive mode dial you can easily switch between the ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ damper settings.
There’s an initial tip-in of the body but then it settles nicely. It’s well balanced and feels light on its feet regardless of which mode you’re in. Only in Sport it’s immediately prepped for some properly spirited driving, yet still offers a suitable level of compliance in the damper rates.
It’s only in Corsa do you start to feel some of its Supercar DNA. It’s extremely rapid from anywhere in the rev range and gets off the mark in typical supercar fashion. But it’s the sharper steering and cat-like front end response that you’ll marvel at most – it feels track-capable in this setting.
Having said that, even in Comfort you can give it the beans and its character changes instantly along with the exhaust note. In short, it comes alive once the revs build.
Interestingly, the Nettuno engine never really feels or sounds overworked, even when you’re properly pushing. Around town, it’s more than happy to sit in fifth all-day long; but as soon as you dab your right foot on the throttle it’ll drop three gears and – boom.
Mind, it’s not as explosive as the untamed version in the MC20 – which I rate as one of the fastest mid-engine supercars I’ve ever driven – but there’s also a good deal of flexibility in the Grecale with its detuned motor.
The same goes for Trofeo’s eight-speed automatic, which understandably, never feels as responsive as the MC20’s eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox. You notice it more when peddling along manually.
In the MC20 it’s like rifle fire as you bang up and down the gear ratios, with each shift accompanied by a serious thump in the back.
In the Grecale Trofeo, its best to let the transmission do its own thing in either Sport or Corsa. You’ll definitely feel each shift, but it’s not at all brutal.
In fact, if left in the default GT drive mode, you’ll barely notice the gear shifts when pottering around the burbs until you really have to lean on it, then it quickly changes its tune and gets more vocal.
Measuring 360mm up front with six-piston calipers (and 350mm rear), the Trofeo’s brakes aren’t massive but its stopping power and pedal feel is sure-footed and confidence inspiring.
Grecale GT highlights:
- 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster
- 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- 14-speaker Sonus Faber premium sound system
- 8.8-inch lower display
- Leather upholstery with contrast stitching
- Maglia Milano interior trim
- Electrically adjustable steering column
- DAB+ digital radio
- Aluminium door sills
- Dual-zone climate control with humidity sensor
- Powered tailgate with kick sensor
- Front, rear parking sensors
- Reversing camera
- Wearable key
Grecale Modena adds:
- 20-inch alloy wheels
- Mechanical rear limited-slip differential
- Active shocks
Grecale Trofeo adds:
- Electronic rear limited-slip differential
- Air suspension
- 21-inch alloy wheels
- Brembo brakes
- Corsa drive mode
ADAS Package L2 ($7050) adds:
- Intelligent Speed Assist
- Speed limiter
- Traffic sign recognition
- Active Driving Assist
- Intersection Collision Assist
I’d argue, with adaptive cruise control including Stop/Go as part of the standard Driver Assist L1 Pack – it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to drop another $7000.
Available colours for Grecale include:
- Rosso Granturismo – Fuoriserie
- Grigio Cangiante – Fuoriserie
- Giallo Corse
- Grigio Lava
- Grigio Lava opaco
- Blu Intenso
- Blu Nobile
- Nero Tempesta
- Bianco Astro
Maserati also offers customisation of exterior and interior trim colours through its bespoke Fuoriserie program.
The Maserati Grecale has yet to be rated by ANCAP or Euro NCAP.
Standard safety equipment includes:
- AEB incl. Pedestrian, Cyclist detection
- Adaptive Cruise Control
- Blind Spot Monitor
- Active Lane Management
- Blind Spot Assist
- Lane Keep Assist + Warning
- Drowsy Driver Detection
Optional active safety features include:
- Intelligent Speed Assist
- Traffic sign recognition
- Intersection collision Assist
- AEB junction assist
- Active Driving Assist
- “an extension of the Active Highway Assist. Different from Highway Assist which operates on limited access freeways only, this new system is supported on every road condition. The driver is still required to stay in control”
Maserati covers all its models with a three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, which is the same as what Porsche offers for its range, but less than Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz – all of which offer five-years.
The Grecale requires servicing every 12 months or 20,000km, whichever comes first.
Service pack pricing (3 years):
- Grecale MHEV: $3175
- Grecale Trofeo: $3361
It’s not quite the most expensive in the segment – both the Benz and BMW go-fast family haulers cost more, but I’d argue the Maserati Grecale Trofeo is by far the most exclusive, if not the most luxurious of the bunch.
It also offers a genuine high-performance alternative to the Porsche Macan GTS, but with the added big-ticket bragging rights of a genuine supercar engine sitting under its bonnet.
Mind, while the Grecale never feels quite as planted, nor as perfectly compliant as the Macan in terms of damping precision, it’s the handling – especially on turn-in – that’s more deft in the Maserati.
It’s not possible to fully exploit the Grecale’s breadth of performance on public roads, but even putting it through some really twisty stuff at decent clip, it’s the Italian that also feels lighter on its feet.
It’s also got class-leading interior space to boot, further enhanced by a stunning blend of high-end materials along with Maserati’s latest technology, though not always the most intuitive, nor with the fastest response rates – I’m talking about those push-button transmission controls.
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