Maserati is on the move. It now has the MC20 supercar in its fleet and the beautifully rendered 2024 GranTurismo coupe in gas and electric forms. A GranCabrio convertible comes soon, and so does a new Levante SUV and a new Quattroporte flagship.
In advance of all of these, Maserati has launched the Grecale crossover SUV. A five-seat rival for the likes of the Porsche Macan, the 2023 Grecale shares some of its logic and likability with the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, buffing its body and interfaces where it makes sense, letting the compact SUV’s stellar road manners translate over through it all.
In case you’re wondering, the Grecale name comes from a cool wind that blows across Malta from Greece. Esoteric? Sure, but Maserati has named its cars after winds since 1963 when it introduced the Mistral and followed with the Ghibli, Bora, Khamsin and Levante. Ironically, Maserati now is part of the same Stellantis corporation as Chrysler, which named a set of its cars for clouds: Cirrus, Stratus, and the Breeze for good measure.
The Grecale (“Greek wind”) is distantly related to the crisp-handling Alfa Stelvio—Maserati’s SUV gets bolted together at the same Stellantis assembly plant in Cassino, Italy, as the junior crossover—but the Maserati gets a longer body, better interior space and execution, and exclusive powertrains.
Grecale: Maserati’s own stiletto heel
The Grecale has a snub-nosed stance, but sticks its styling statement like a stiletto heel. It wears a big trident affixed to the Trofeo’s vertically ribbed grille, and to be certain you received the message, an enamel badge sits above the grille in the Giallo Corse yellow paint, which is splendid. Carbon-fiber ribbons frame the lower air intakes, LED hockey sticks flick the headlights into the fenders.
It’s all lovely, but we wonder: why the nonfunctional portholes? In side view, they’re the lone details that mar the chunky, spunky Grecale shape, which studs the rear pillar with another trident logo and an upturned window that splits it from the Stelvio’s cat-eyed vibe. Big 21-inch wheels have more spokes and slats, the sport exhaust juts out from more carbon-fiber apron, and the rear end wears a big Maserati logo over an architectural beam of chrome. If you forget which company makes this car, it’s time for an optician.
Inside, digital displays dominated a discreetly tailored interior. One depicts the Grecale’s gauges, while a pair of touchscreens cascade down the center stack—under, you guessed it, a digital version of the Maserati trident that turns into a clock. It’s heavy on gloss black inside, on the steering wheel even, with pushbutton transmission controls that prep for the EV era. Tthe Grecale Trofeo’s touchscreens lose some visibility because their virtual buttons for cruise and infotainment aren’t clear enough in strong sunlight. In addition, the head-up display cuts into the forward view with glare. But look at the material: the interior wins with carbon-fiber trim and yellow twin-stitched seats and leather trim panels, all contrasted with laser-cut metal grilles for the high-end audio system.
The unified look, inside and out, of the Grecale mark this new generation of Maseratis. At long last, they look all of a piece, and as part of a family.
Maserati Grecale Folgore
Maserati Grecale Folgore
Maserati Grecale Folgore
Maserati Grecale meets the Nettuno V-6
Maserati has a plan for more Grecales, and it includes a forthcoming battery-electric version, the Grecale Folgore. Folgore, which is Italian for “lightning,” is Maserati’s branding for electric vehicles. But for now, our drive involves only the most powerful gas model, the Grecale Trofeo.
The base option is a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 in mild-hybrid configuration. It’s rated at 296 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque in GT guise and 325 hp and 332 lb-ft in Modena guise. The GT hits 60 mph in 5.3 seconds and reaches a top speed of 149 mph—as does the Grecale Modena, which scoots to 60 mph in only 5.0 seconds.
Above these versions soars the Trofeo, powered by a detuned version of the 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 found in the MC20 supercar. Here rated at 523 hp and 457 lb-ft, it scalds the road with 0-60 mph acceleration in 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 177 mph. It can be softened or sharpened through a drive mode selector with Comfort, GT, Sport, Corsa (Trofeo only), and Off-Road modes; the steering wheel brandishes one button to fire the car to life and another to toggle between those modes.
Press the left button to key up the whuffling turbo V-6 and the right button to dial in the best-case Sport mode—trust us. So set, you don’t have to work very hard to induce the kind of joy that comes from piloting a Maserati on virtually empty Italian back roads, punting Puntos into the rearview mirror as the Trofeo drills out volumes of exuberant exhaust. The Trofeo issues its trademark rorty flapping noise under full throttle with considerable thrust, and its long, silvery shift paddles chill the back of my fingers while I look for the standard-issue Stellantis audio controls on the back of the wheel, where they belong. I paddle down, down, down, into a steep corner then up, up, up from full stop to full throttle, and cackle as the Grecale scrabbles for traction. Too-clever Clios think they can get close enough to pass—then, just, braaaaaap, the exhaust poots at them with disdain and rockets off like the Scooby gang in hot pursuit of a ghost.
I’m driving a Trofeo shod with snow tires, because the weather in Italy’s been just as weird as (gestures at everything in classic Italian hand-waving form). Adaptive damping and air springs come standard on the Trofeo, and they establish some conflicting messages about body control. Very firm damping pairs with more relaxed springing, so the Grecale moves with capable confidence, if not the rigorous regimented control of a Porsche Macan Turbo. Some of that is due to weight—it’s between 4,431 and 4,629 pounds—but some undoubtedly gets chalked up to the winter tires. Minus some nonlinear feedback from its Brembo 6-piston front and 4-piston rear brake calipers, the Maserati mid-size crossover SUV feels worthy of comparison with the truly unflappable Macan.
2023 Maserati Grecale
Maserati Grecale utility: getting the SUV goods
At 191.3 inches long (190.8 inches on lesser models), and riding on a 114.2-inch wheelbase, the Grecale is about five inches longer overall and three inches longer in wheelbase than the related Stelvio. It shows. The Grecale cures the Stelvio’s sore point in packaging: while the Alfa crossover has a disappointing 31.9 inches of rear-seat legroom and can’t fit two adults well, the Grecale expands legroom to the point where its back seat is easy to get into and has plenty of space to get comfortable. In front, the Grecale’s seats are firm and hip-grabbing, with good range of adjustment and good mid-body grip for high-g cornering.
At 20.1 cubic feet behind rear seats, the Trofeo also tops the Stelvio’s 18.5 cubic feet of cargo space, though lesser Grecales have 18.9 cubic feet of room.
A clear victory comes in the Grecale’s user interface, referred to as the Maserati Intelligent Assistant (MIA). Powered by Google’s Android operating system, the setup listens for voice commands; it can hear when you query out loud, “Hey Maserati.” Other features include a 21-speaker (14-speaker standard) Sonus Faber sound system and automatic emergency braking; blind-spot monitors and adaptive cruise control come with the Trofeo, and are available on other versions.
The Grecale is on sale now, but only as a gas-powered SUV. The battery-powered Grecale Folgore comes later this year, with a battery pack that lies flat under its floor, skateboard-style—unlike that in the GranTurismo, where the Folgore’s batteries take up space left behind by its gas powertrain.
As for prices, the $64,995 Grecale GT can be upgraded to the $74,395 Modena; the Trofeo scales the Grecale heights at $103,995. For that kind of money, the one thing we’d change is the very loud pinging for automatic emergency braking. It cues like some kind of machine that signals imminent death in an emergency room or….oh, oh dear, that’s actually for the speed camera warning.
Ah well. Live and learn.
—with additional reporting by Viknesh Vijayenthiran
Maserati brought us to Rome to drive the Grecale Trofeo and the glorious 2024 Granturismo Trofeo and Folgore—and got us hooked on the maritozzo in the process.