2023 Maserati Grecale Trofeo | PH Review

The X3M, F-Pace SVR and Stelvio Quadrifoglio have a new rival – is the 530hp Grecale up to the challenge?

By Matt Bird / Wednesday, 10 May 2023 / Loading comments

Though it can feel that every Maserati story begins this way, the Grecale really is its most crucial new model. As many electric GranTurismos will likely be sold as MC20 Cielos; both tantalising prospects, but hardly the high-volume money makers. To be competitive in 2023 and beyond, a good SUV range is a must. Right off the bat, the Grecale feels like a much more concerted effort than the Levante ever did. There’s the Folgore coming to rival the Macan EV, mild-hybrid petrols where there might once have been out-of-favour diesels, and even one to go chasing X3 Ms and Stelvio QFs: the Grecale Trofeo.

Recent Trofeos haven’t really been all that special, aside from the engines that powered them. Things ought to be different this time around, the Grecale and its new architecture launching with the flagship model immediately available. Moreover, though producing the same 530hp as the three previous Trofeos (Levante, Ghibli, Quattroporte), that power now comes courtesy of a V6 rather than a V8. Specifically, it’s a wet-sump version of the MC20’s Nettuno 3.0-litre V6, retaining the Maserati Twin Combustion technology and promising a great deal. Indeed, there’s quite a bit to be encouraged by in the standard spec, with double wishbones, a multi-link rear axle (with an electronic limited-slip diff back there as well) plus some big brakes clamped by Brembo calipers. Even 2,027kg isn’t a heinous amount for this kind of car…

In dark blue, on the big wheels of a Trofeo, and from the back, the Grecale looks smart, hunkered down like a big hatch more than most other SUVs. True, the overall design feels quite generic, especially from a marque as famed for its design as Maserati, although inevitably it’s harder to take risks with a base-covering SUV than a supercar. Arguably its maker could’ve been bolder – especially when you catch yourself comparing it to the unbranded SUVs that populate Grand Theft Auto – but to look at the Grecale is more missed opportunity than outright fail. 

Things improve inside, with both quality materials and neat touches, the door handle buttons and configurable clock face working well. A dual touchscreen will strike fear into some, however with a small amount of acclimatisation it makes sense and looks good; maybe it’s not class-leading infotainment, but the stereo slaps and CarPlay works seamlessly. Against the last Maserati we tested, the more expensive Ghibli, this feels like it’s from a different century. There’s plentiful space out back, too.

Those keen on actually driving will be pleased to see a sensibly dimensioned steering wheel, an easily available oil temp, gloriously enormous (and therefore ideally sized) shift paddles and some cool dial displays that change with drive modes. There are even modest Maserati quirks beyond the newfound maturity, such as small rockers behind the wheel that would pass for paddles in a VW but which are actually used to adjust volume and skip a track (imagine). While the driver’s seat goes low, it doesn’t relative to the windowline, so you never feel quite as ensconced as you might’ve hoped. 

While there’s plenty to discuss about the driving experience, we must begin with the engine. Characteristically, it’s an absolute ripper, perhaps the best in the segment – and yes, that includes the F-Pace V8, Alfa V6 and BMW straight-six. The caveat is that the verdict comes without personal experience of the MC20; the Nettuno 3.0-litre might not seem so impressive with almost 100hp less and hundreds of kilos more to carry. Either way, against comparable cars, the Trofeo’s performance, responsiveness to the throttle and unabating ambition to scream past 7,000rpm are remarkable. The Macan’s V6 – never its strongest suit, to be fair – might as well be a diesel by comparison, given how much freer and exciting the Grecale is.

The ZF auto is a good match, too: the ratios you’re going to use are closely stacked, its paddles are a joy and it swaps cogs speedily enough. It doesn’t like multiple shifts in succession, mind, but torque converters seldom seem to. The upshift cracks nicely complement a raspy V6 tone. The Grecale may not look much like a genuine Maserati, but it sure as heck goes like one. And when it settles into a cruise, the whole car really rather refined – even if our mixed drive average over 170 miles came to a gulp-inducing 21mpg. 

The chassis is a mixed bag. The Trofeo is modiest of all the Grecales, with a Corsa setting understandably denied to the 2.0-litre cars but also, weirdly, an off-road option for six in total. At its most aggressive, the Grecale is nothing if not absorbing to drive fast: never has an SUV felt this willing to hurl motive force to the rear axle while also retaining a bit of roll in the chassis. The Maserati wants to rotate under power as soon as the throttle is reapplied, which is disconcerting to begin with – especially as Corsa ditches the ESC – but quite a party trick once you know what’s set to occur. And the steering is nicely done as well, apparently unaltered by different settings, and thus retaining a light, positive but not overly darty feel in any situation. Even in the less silly GT and Sport modes, there’s some satisfaction to be derived from pouring the Grecale down the road.

What a shame a few things are amiss, then. The ride for one never quite settles or delivers the level of accuracy offered by the segment’s best; the standard air suspension always seems to take a fraction longer to react than expected, which puts the experience out of sync. For every big imperfection it glides over, the Grecale will thump a tiny cat’s eye, which makes it seem inconsistent at best. Being Italian, the most focused drive mode can be decoupled from the stiffest suspension setting, but it never feels like an ideal compromise, being too short on control. You’d never call it uncomfortable or wayward, but it can’t replicate the tack-sharp experience of driving a Macan, and nor does it ever threaten to properly flow with the road like an F-Pace SVR does. Both set a high bar, of course – but that’s how it goes in a class stuffed with prestige bestsellers. 

Still, it’s indicative of how far the Grecale has moved expectations on that you’d still want to drive the Grecale back-to-back with its closest rivals to draw a conclusive verdict. Consequently, it’s disappointing that even with a superb engine, engaging chassis and a decent interior in its favour, the Trofeo is priced so aggressively. As it sits here on its (standard) 21-inch wheels, the Grecale is optioned up to £107,000. Even as standard, it’s £300 shy of six figures, which is a huge amount.

When we pitched Stelvio against F-Pace less than two years ago, they were specced up to £79,285 and £81,565 respectively – both are still less than £85,000 new. The Maserati is more expensive at RRP than a BMW X3 M, an Audi SQ8 and any of the Porsche SUVs currently available new (with significant updates imminent for both); it’s very nearly Defender V8 money. In other words, the flagship model has been priced as a class leader, without emphatically living up to the billing. Still, a group test is ultimately needed to decide the Trofeo’s place in the final pecking order – which qualifies as progress. 


Engine: 2992cc, V6, twin-turbo
Transmission: 8-speed auto, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): [email protected],500rpm
Torque (lb ft): [email protected],000-5,500rpm
0-62mph: 3.8 seconds
Top speed: 177mph
Weight: 2027kg
MPG: 25.2
CO2: 254g/km
Price: £99,700 (price as standard on the road; price as tested £107,605 comprised of Blu Intenso paint for £720, Trident stitched on headrest for £375, Drive Assistance Pack Plus (Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop&Go, Active Lane Management, Blind spot monitor, Drowsy driver detection, Adaptive full LED matrix headlights) for £2,535, Ventilated front seats for £795, Heated steering wheel for £220, Sonus Faber 1,285w premium surround system for £2,200, Surround view camera for £880, Auto dimming exterior mirrors for £180)

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