Maserati Grecale Trofeo
Maserati is on something of a roll; might its new mid-sized SUV deliver the volume sales it needs?
WE LIKE THE MASERATI MC20. A LOT. From a standing start, the boys and girls from Bologna have designed, developed and produced a clean-sheet supercar that competes with Mclaren and Ferrari and needs no excuses. It’s an unlikely and heart-warming story and, perhaps, a sign that the lustre of the Trident will survive for another generation or two.
However, Maserati can’t survive with the MC20 alone. In fact, this is a company that needs and wants volume. Hence the Levante, which has been moderately successful since its launch in 2016 but isn’t exactly denting Cayenne or Range Rover sales. Hence the Ghibli saloon, which has hardly troubled Mercedes or BMW dealers as they shift E-classes and 5-series with great success despite the market dominance of SUVS. The latest model that might, finally, give Maserati the sales success it wants is the D-segment SUV you see here. It’s called the Grecale. Sorry for going all What Car? on you there. Essentially, the Grecale is a Porsche Macan rival that’s based on a stretched version of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio chassis. The idea is that the Grecale balances absolute sportiness with a luxurious GT flavour and a bit of old-school Maserati glamour. A complex target then, and one that’s difficult to achieve but wonderfully realised in the MC20. If the Grecale can nail the formula in a mid-sized SUV then Maserati could really be onto something. This market is huge and continues to grow apace.
The bleached, narrow, crumbling and dusty lanes that make up most of Sicily’s road network are probably not the ideal setting for our time in the range-topping Grecale Trofeo, but it shows confidence on Maserati’s part and should test the theory that this thing possesses GT suppleness and sports car-like agility. Speaking of confidence, this Grecale Trofeo costs from £95,950. That’s over £16,000 more than the Stelvio Quadrifoglio. Or, perhaps more alarmingly, over £25,000 more than the Macan GTS and a near-£15,000 premium over the thunderous Jaguar F-pace SVR. Punchy.
On the flipside, the Trofeo is certainly not lacking firepower. It has a wet-sump version of the MC20’S 3-litre twin-turbo V6 featuring cylinder deactivation and different turbochargers, but retaining the trick pre-chamber ignition system. It produces 523bhp at 6500rpm, 457lb ft from 3000 to 5500rpm and is hooked up to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The Trofeo covers 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds, 0-124mph in 13.8 and can reach 177mph. The chassis utilises air springs with six ride-height positions, adjustable dampers, double wishbones at the front and a multi-link rear set-up. There’s an e-diff in the rear axle, six-piston brakes at the front with fourpiston rears and five driving modes: Comfort, GT, Sport, Corsa and Off-road. Powerful, sophisticated and intriguing, then. Just as a Maserati should be.
Yet the first impression is that it looks gawky on the outside (with more than a hint of Ford Puma)
and feels a little insubstantial on the inside. The interior has some lovely details and materials that create a sense of old-school hand-made Maserati charm, but overall it just can’t quite match the expectation of that lofty price-tag. Admittedly, it’s a nice environment if you buy the four-cylinder mild-hybrid Grecale GT starting from £58,500. The touchscreen works pretty well, too. And the driving position is lower than, say, that of the Jaguar F-pace and all the better for it. The Grecale also feels relatively small but is actually very practical.
On the move, it’s a world away from the Macan and certainly has its own identity. Where the Porsche remains very flat when cornering and has a highly alert but slightly artificial way of tackling a road, the Maserati is more theatrical and prone to grand gestures. There’s slightly calmer steering response and I like the light but precise set-up. It works well with a chassis that allows more body roll and encourages the driver to use the natural weight transfer to pick apart a road. After a Macan GTS you’d initially think the Maserati is lazy and needs more control, but actually the softer-edged responses are considered and create fluidity.
The engine, sadly, feels very different to the one in the MC20. The crazy turbocharged soundscape is gone and in its place there’s a sort of generic (and augmented) six-cylinder noise with the usual crack on upshifts and odd flurry of pops and bangs on downshifts. It’s more conventional and probably more in line with customer expectations, but muzzling this engine’s natural sounds seems a missed opportunity. As it is, the F-pace SVR makes a much madder and more exciting noise.
Even so, the Trofeo’s performance is extremely strong and it’s pleasing that under power it will push through mild understeer and then start to steer from the rear. The e-diff feels nicely tuned and there’s a sense that this 2027kg SUV quite enjoys being driven with enthusiasm. However, ultimately it falls short of the remarkable agility of a Macan or Stelvio Quadrifoglio and it doesn’t have the immense, unstoppable feel of the riotous SVR. The driver modes bring breadth but can’t inject real character. There’s nothing here that feels uniquely Maserati, nor the outright talent to outshine the competition. It’s just oddly forgettable. And a Maserati should never be forgettable.
Engine V6, 3000cc, twin-turbo Power 523bhp @ 6500rpm Torque 457lb ft @ 3000-5500rpm Weight 2027kg (262bhp/ton) 0-62mph 3.8sec Top speed 177mph Basic price £95,950 + Rapid and accomplished - Lacks character and ultimate flair evo rating