Maserati Grecale GT Drive Review : Wind of Change
Singapore - Just as the Mistral, Ghibli, Bora and Khamsin were so named from before, the Maserati Grecale carries on the brand’s tradition of taking inspiration for its name from a wind, but one thing’s for sure, it certainly isn’t full of hot air.
The MC20 was a proper sportscar that helped usher-in a new age of renaissance for the brand, and the Grecale looks poised to continue Maserati’s push into the segment of mainstream premium posh-roaders.
A common refrain from the folks we mentioned the Grecale to was, “Doesn’t it sit on the same platform as Jeep/Alfa Romeo?”
After all, it is built on the Stellantis Group’s ‘Giorgio’ platform, which is shared with the Alfa Romeo Stelvio and Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Moreover, in addition to the GT, Modena and fire-breathing Trofeo models of the Grecale, there’s also an electrified Folgore (Italian for lightning) coming, because the boffins have managed to adapt the FCA platform to accommodate EV hardware.
Besides, what’s the big deal with platform sharing? The VW Group has practised this dark art for decades, and no one bats an eye-lid when you say the Urus, Bentayga, Cayenne, Q8 and Touareg all ride on the same MLB Evo platform – for what it’s worth, from Touareg to Urus, there’s almost S$500k difference in-between.
The important thing to platform sharing is ensuring the respective models retain their distinct DNA in terms of handling and comfort.
The Stelvio QV was quite the cracker on-the-fly, so we had high hopes for the Grecale, even if the demo model for now happens to be the entry-level GT.
The Grecale GT weighs-in as a leftfield alternative to populist choices like the Macan, X3, GLC, Q5 et al.
However, we’re pretty sure Maserati is banking on the Grecale to join this roster of usual suspects to achieve a broader appeal before long, especially given its incursions into the luxury lifestyle sphere.
Behind the storied ‘Maserati’ name is a rich racing pedigree that features prominently to this very day, which automatically casts the spotlight on the Grecale’s dynamics.
As far as the Grecale is concerned, we think in terms of ‘sporty’, as opposed to ‘soft’, so we’ve excluded the Lexus RX from our list… and some might say for good reason too, especially since we’re the sort to still care about engaging driving dynamics!
The Grecale cuts a sleek, smart shape with its sporty stance and a prominent, pouty grille emblazoned with Maserati’s familiar Neptune’s Trident emblem.
Maserati’s compact crossover eschews chunky, Tonka Truck styling for a clean and composed silhouette that has just enough musculature to be taken seriously by the cognoscenti.
The cabin is a comfortable place to be in, which features snug sporty seats, as well as a tightly cohesive fit and finish, all of which are topped-off by trick tech that adds some flash, but also helps enhance life-on-board.
First the flash bit, the Grecale features an ‘e-latch door button’ with nicely knurled surrounds on each of the four doors, just like the MC20.
Pressing it unlatches the door, but there’s also a manual override lever in case the electronics go awry.
It’s a tastefully digitalised cockpit, with a 12.3-inch ultra-HD central touchscreen, as well as a second 8.8-inch panel for clock, climate control and other secondary features.
On the move, many drivers find it a bother to adjust fan speed and temperature on regular touchscreen displays, because you need to take your eyes off the road to look for the ‘+/-’ buttons, even as the car’s motion adds to the difficulty of hitting it spot-on.
The Grecale features a thoughtful and intuitive interface to controlling the climate control, where you can slide and swipe up-down and/or left-right without taking your eyes off the road to control fan speed and temperature for either the driver, front passenger, or both parties.
When you first slide into the Grecale’s driver’s seat, the ‘Engine Start/Stop’ trigger button on the bottom left of the steering wheel pulses in anticipation as the driver prepares to rouse the car to life.
The keen-eyed would have spotted the digital clock – the first in Maserati’s history – with interchangeable dial skins (analogue, digital etc.), which even includes a compass and g-force gauge.
Instead of the usual transmission shifter, gear selection duties are handled by a bank of buttons (for P, R, N, D/M), but that’s not the Grecale’s party trick.
You know how manoeuvring in-and-out of parking lots normally sees you alternate between R and D several times?
In the Grecale, the steering wheel aluminium paddle shifters let you override the selected gear, so let’s say it’s in R and you’ve reversed but still need to fine-tune the car’s position.
Engaging the right-side paddle shifter (or ‘+’) will put it back into D for you to move forward, and when you need to engage reverse again, just pull the left-side paddle shifter (or ‘-’) towards you to go back into R – everything is smooth and seamless without having to fuss around with the transmission buttons.
Such intuitive technology is always cool, especially since many brands fall into the trap of overcomplicating things by throwing in too many redundant features for the sake of it.
Of course, it’s not all smoke and mirrors with the trick tech, because the GT serves up an engaging drive as well. It may not be uncompromisingly hardcore or blisteringly fast, but the chassis offers good body control and a stirring engine that allows you to indulge in bouts of enthusiastic driving, as well as trundle around the city on weekends.
With several driving modes on tap (Comfort, GT and Sport modes), the GT is a compelling all-rounder in the premium sports crossover segment to take the fight to the usual suspects.
296hp and 450Nm from the turbo’d 2.0-litre is a goodly amount of performance for a brisk drive, while the 5.6secs the GT will take to hit 100km/h from standstill means it’s punchy enough for city commutes, especially with that torque hitting hard from just 2000rpm.
The GT bares its fangs in Sport mode, and it isn't all bark and no bite either, because there’s an intriguing panache to its dynamics that makes it stand out from its rivals… and sometimes, this is all that people are after. It’s possible to achieve smooth and very swift progress in the GT both in the city, as well as when the roads open up.
At just under S$280k before COE, the Grecale GT boasts a compelling combination of clever tech, a spacious, poshly appointed cabin and genuinely engaging dynamics that bodes well for its efforts to huff and puff and blow the doors off its competition.
PHOTOS Clifford Chow
Maserati Grecale GT
Engine 1995cc, inline4, turbo
Power / rpm 296hp / 5750rpm
Torque / rpm 450Nm / 2000rpm
Transmission 8spd auto
Top Speed 240km/h
Fuel Consumption 9.4l / 100km