A FAIR WIND – MASERATI GRECALE |
It has become a tradition for Maserati to name its vehicles after trade winds. It started with Mistral, followed by Bora, Merak, Ghibli, and Levante, and now there is the Grecale – the first mid-sized SUV from the Modena-based marque. It is also set to become the first full-electric SUV in the 108 year history of Maserati.
Making its world premiere during a special digital event featuring the Italian actors and Maserati brand ambassadors Matilda De Angelis and Alessandro Borghi, Maserati described the new Grecale SUV as “The Everyday Exceptional” due to it striking the right balance between versatility, elegance, performance, and innovation.
Whether this is all true or not, the Grecale shares the Giorgio platform with the Alfa Romeo Stelvio and the latest Jeep Grand Cherokee, and, as such, is a crucial model for the Trident brand in its quest to grow market share and volume in the competitive luxury SUV vehicle market.
In order to achieve this, the new SUV stands out in terms of spaciousness and comfort, according to Maserati, and includes an impressive set of “best-in-class” features, such as best-in-class interior space, driveability, handling, acceleration (0-100 km/h in 3.8 seconds – on the Trofeo), top speed (285 km/h – again on the Trofeo), sound quality and the extensive use of fine materials such as wood, carbon fibre and leather.
Its dimensions are another major factor: and the Grecale GT version is 4,846 mm long with a wheelbase of 2,901 mm, a height of 1,670 mm, a width of 2,163 mm (including wing mirrors) and a rear wheel track of 1,948 mm (this is even more on the Trofeo). It is shorter than the Jeep by 58 mm but has a 81 mm longer wheelbase than the Stelvio and luggage space is a stated 570 litres – about 70 litres more than in a Mercedes-Benz GLC.
It comes as no surprise that the design of the Grecale embraces the new visual language of the Maserati brand, as heralded by the MC20. The front features a low and imposing grille, and the profile of the Grecale is notable for the contrast between purity and technique, with the fluid body lines featuring meandering visual forms and the technical components highlighted with the use of carbon fibre.
At the rear, the boomerang taillights are inspired by the iconic Giugiaro 200 GT, and fit in with the trapezoidal line, made even more striking by the Grecale’s coupé-like roofline. Inside the cabin, the standout technical specifications include the traditional Maserati clock. Digital for the first time, it transforms into a veritable in-car concierge, courtesy of voice control.
Everything inside is touch-based, with extreme aesthetic cleanliness. All functions are controlled from the displays: a large 12.3” central screen – the largest ever seen in a Maserati – an 8.8″ display for the extra controls, and a third for the rear seat passengers. The in-car experience is managed by the Maserati Intelligent Assistant (MIA) Multimedia system, the state-of-the-art infotainment and from Maserati Connect. A Heads-up Display is available as an option.
In-car sound is pushed to the limits of enjoyment by an all-round sound experience, ensured by the sonorous Maserati engine noise and the immersive sound of the Sonus faber 3D sound system, standard with 14 speakers at Premium level, and with 21 speakers at High Premium level. However, the Grecale’s biggest asset may be its leading second row legroom, with an additional 178 mm of space compared to its German competitors…
A Range Within a Range
Much like Alfa Romeo’s Tonale, the Grecale is a range within a range, with a vast selection of engines and drivetrains – consisting of conventional internal combustion, hybrid and, within a year, full electric. Three model versions were shown at launch:
The GT, powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder mild-hybrid engine capable of delivering 220 kW and 450 Nm; the Modena, with a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder mild-hybrid engine producing 240 kW and 450 Nm; and the powerful Trofeo, equipped with a high-performance Nettuno-based 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine delivering 390 kW. A full-electric Folgore version, projected to go on sale in 2023, will be equipped with a 105 kW/h battery and 400 V system architecture.
The Grecale Trofeo uses a wet-sump version of the powerful Nettuno engine – in slightly detuned state compared to the MC20 (for improved fuel economy) – while retaining the Twin Combustion system and a 11.1 compression ratio. All the drivetrains are paired with a ZF-sourced eight-speed auto transmission.
However, there is a big jump in performance from the four-cylinder mild hybrid power systems to the blown V6, with a 1.5 second difference in 0-100 km/h times between the Modena (5.3 seconds) and the top-model Trofeo.
Maserati states driving dynamics and driving comfort are enhanced by the extraordinary handling traits provided by a new Maserati Vehicle Dynamic Control Module (VDCM) system and the complete control it offers over the vehicle. This is made possible by five configurable drive modes – Comfort, GT, Sport, Corsa (Trofeo only) and Off-Road – offering a wide range of driving experience options.
Besides the GT, Modena and Trofeo, splendid in their bronze, iridescent grey and racing yellow launch colours, Maserati launched a limited edition PrimaSerie Launch Edition with exclusive content and showcased a special Grecale Mission from Mars created through its Fuoriserie Programme.
With the mounting popularity of compact SUVs, the importance of the new Grecale in the line-up of the Trident-badged manufacturer cannot be underestimated. It faces stiff competition, though, in the form of the Porsche Macan, Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Jaguar F-Pace and BMW X3.
Overseas, pricing for the new Grecale, developed at the Maserati Innovation Lab in Modena, and produced at the Stellantis plant in Cassino, starts from just over R1 million for the entry-level GT and more than R1.25 million for the Modena (not taking into account local taxes and levies) an interest here will probably depend mostly on local pricing compared to its competitors.
Report by Ferdi de Vos | Images © Maserati