Maserati has introduced the Grecale Trofeo trim which brings some welcome upgrades, but it still falls short in some areas
3.5 out of 5
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The top-spec Maserati Grecale Trofeo offers serious performance with plenty of Italian charisma to go with it. The sharp chassis and impressive powertrain are plusses, but on UK roads the ride still isn’t quite as good as it should be, and it lacks the ultimate engagement of some rivals. On top of this, the near-£100k price point makes it significantly more expensive than the competition, without the breadth of ability to justify it.
The Grecale Trofeo is Maserati’s brand new high performance midsize SUV designed to do battle against popular – and lucrative – rivals like the BMW X3 M Competition, Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio and Jaguar F-Pace SVR. It sits at the top of a range that also includes two more modest four-cylinder petrol options because with the Trofeo’s two extra cylinders comes a hefty price bump, to just under £100,000.
Fortunately, its engine isn’t just any old high performance six-cylinder, but the twin-turbocharged Nettuno unit that’s also found in the MC20 supercar – albeit detuned to produce 523bhp and 620Nm of torque. Developed specifically by Maserati, it integrates very clever twin-chamber combustion technology that helps create a bigger bang resulting in plenty of power, considering the engine’s restrained capacity.
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Thanks to four-wheel drive and a fast-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox, the Trofeo is rapid, sprinting from 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds, making it faster on paper than most key rivals which all sit around the four-second mark.
It feels faster on the road, too. The V6 unit has little lag and the turbo compressors spool up quickly, helping hurl the Grecale forward at an impressive rate. It’s accompanied by a gruff soundtrack, and while it isn’t the most musical, it is at least authentic. Pull the steering column-mounted upshift paddle in Corsa mode and a loud snap often erupts from the exhaust as the ratios swap. The gearbox is rapid enough to shift, and is also sufficiently smooth and refined in the regular Comfort or GT settings.
When in its most aggressive Corsa mode, Grecale’s Vehicle Dynamics Control Module relaxes its grip on the car’s stability control, giving us our best chance to sense the Trofeo’s dynamic ability. The chassis certainly feels playful, with a rear-biased power delivery that’s cleaned up by its electronic limited-slip rear diff. It doesn’t feel entirely different to an Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio – unsurprising considering the two share the Giorgio platform – but with a less frantic and more sophisticated demeanour.
The Maserati platform has had its wheelbase lengthened compared with the Stelvio, so there is plenty of space inside the Grecale; passengers won’t complain about the head and legroom. The Trofeo does without the mild-hybrid tech of the lesser variants so this top-spec car also boasts more boot space, at 570 litres.
The key difference between the hottest Grecale and Stelvio models is found in the suspension, with Maserati fitting a standard adaptive air suspension setup in lieu of the Alfa’s coil springs. Yet despite the air springs, the ride feels firm even in its softest default setting. In Sport and Corsa modes, you can independently dial the dampers back to a less aggressive setting, but regardless, the Trofeo is a firm-riding car and the 21-inch wheels can sometimes crash over sharp intrusions in the road surface.
The trade-off is taut body control, which together with the fast steering rack, helps the Trofeo feel agile and composed. The steering itself is precise and fairly light, yet isn’t endowed with any sense of communication, so you have to trust that the grip is there and in the all-wheel drive system’s traction.
The Grecale’s interior does feel plush, high-spec and very well equipped, though. In typical Maserati style, material quality is top notch, with soft waxy leather surfaces on the seats, dash and doors matched to various carbon fibre trim finishes.
A luxury car has to offer strong technology these days too, and thankfully Maserati has taken this on board with its latest infotainment system. Like the latest GranTurismo, the Grecale’s interface offers hi-res graphics on both its central 12.3-inch touchscreen and smaller lower touchscreen interface that handles the air conditioning and supplementary functions. There’s also a crisp digital dash, plus a new digital interpretation of Maserati’s iconic dash-mounted clock.
Touch response is good, and there are plenty of functions with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity quick and clean to connect. Other connected services and Amazon Alexa integration also feature. There’s a new voice control system called Maserati Intelligent Assistant, with the car’s digital clock the focal point for this. It’s the first such system to feature in a Maserati and can also show a G-force read-out.
A drawback of the car’s two tonne-plus kerb weight and the impressive performance potential is the Trofeo’s efficiency, but then if you’re in this part of the market you’ll be expecting city car fuel bills. It could make range more of an issue however, with a 64-litre fuel tank and claimed economy of 25.2mpg (plus 254g/km of CO2 emissions).
Against its non-Italian rivals, the Grecale certainly has appeal, but at this level there’s some tough competition. Jaguar’s brilliant F Pace SVR and its V8 engine finds an even better balance between GT-like comfort and excitement for keen drivers, and if you’re after the ultimate high performance driving experience in the class BMW’s X3 M Competition still edges ahead. For some, though, the appeal of the Maserati badge attached to a desirable and competitive high performance SUV will be all they’re looking for.
|3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol
|Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
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