Review: Maserati Grecale a classy SUV for those who want to stand out

A Maserati Grecale Modena by the Waikato River at The Point, Ngaruawahia.
A Maserati Grecale Modena by the Waikato River at The Point, Ngaruawahia. Photo credit: Newshub.

Maserati, the prestigious Italian car marque associated with expensive sports cars, is having a crack at the lucrative luxury SUV market.

In recent years you'll have no doubt seen a growing number of big, fast, fancy-looking SUVs on our roads from the likes of Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Range Rover and BMW.

That type of vehicle is popular enough that more and more brands want in on the action. This is great for buyers as the more competition there is, the better customers will be served.

Enter the Maserati Grecale, an SUV that offers luxury of the sort the brand is renowned for in a vehicle designed for drivers who want to stand out on the roads. 

It's not just the trident logo on the distinctive Maserati font grille that will do the trick - there are carbon fibre elements, high-end lights and other stylish touches on the exterior that will serve that desired effect.

But as they say, it's what's on the inside that really counts.

Maserati Grecale front grille.
The SUV bears the classic Maserati front grille. Photo credit: supplied

The model I reviewed is the Modena, which packs a four-cylinder 330-hp (246kW) mild-hybrid engine.

It zips from zero to 100km/h in 5.3 seconds when you enter the motorway, or zero to 200km/h in 21.9 seconds if you want to take it out on the track - where its top speed is said to be 240km/h.

It was a pleasure to drive around Auckland and the Waikato for a few days with more than enough power and supremely comfortable turning ability, a suite of super handy driver controls and plenty of room for luggage and family alike.

With a recommended retail price of $145,000, the Modena is the middle Grecale model sandwiched by the less expensive and less powerful GT, and the top-end Trofeo.

All that money goes on more than the powerful engine and fancy exterior. Getting into this thing is made pleasant with the leather upholstery, premium steering wheel and glorious metal paddle shifters that immediately grab attention.

But what perhaps impressed me most about the Grecale was the driver controls, some of which were functional in convenient ways I hadn't even considered before. For example, when you put it in reverse, the paddle shifters automatically change to flipping between reverse and drive, making parallel parking much easier.

But there were also plenty of luxurious little touches that made driving around a joy. 

Maserati Grecale interior.
Maserati Grecale interior. Photo credit: supplied

One relatively tiny detail I really liked was the ability to change what was displayed on the classic Maserati central dashboard clock, with a few really stylish personalisation options.

Another feature I liked and wish I'd discovered earlier sees the entertainment system's volume automatically increase as you speed up. Having Metallica's 'Battery' get cranked right up as I entered the motorway without me needing to move a hand to do it was a real thrill, as juvenile as that may sound.

The Sonus Faber audio system is really solid, as you'd expect for a vehicle in this price range.

Another silly little detail that delighted me was changing the ambient lighting colours around the doors and such - but then having those change again depending on what driving mode you're in.

The adaptive cruise control with driver assist functions were satisfying and made driving on motorways a nice, chilled experience.

There are plenty of stylish touches both inside and outside the Maserati Grecale.
There are plenty of stylish touches both inside and outside the vehicle. Photo credit: supplied

I also appreciated the adjustments that could be made to the in-windscreen HUD, which meant I could get it in just the right position but also easily switch it off when I wanted to.

There really is a deep amount of settings to get lost in: perfecting and tweaking for different driving situations, as well as all the auto-lock features and everything else you can think of. If I owned a car like this, I'd spend a lot of time on adjusting it just to my liking.

The only dash element I found unintuitive was the aircon section. All the options were there, but cycling through them and quickly changing settings wasn't as simple as it should have been.

Another issue I had was the driver assist function being a little too aggressive at times. The worst was reversing down a long driveway when it had wet, thick, long grass either side, causing the vehicle to stop violently every now and then, which punctuated the constant shrill of its warning system alarm.

I should have just turned those off, of course, but sometimes you stubbornly want to persevere I guess.

Maserati Grecale Modena parked up in the Waikato.
The Maserati Grecale Modena launched with a recommended retail price of $145,000 in New Zealand. Photo credit: Newshub.

Those are minor gripes, of course. In general, driving around in a Maserati SUV is just as cool as you probably imagine.

Aside from the cool factor, it's also functional - with all the room, reliability and safety features I'd want in a family vehicle - but with enough power to remind you it is, indeed, a Maserati. Overall, the array of driver assists and luxurious touches ultimately brought me the most joy.

What else to consider: Porsche Macan, BMW M135i, Mercedes-Benz GLB, Range Rover Velar.

Newshub was supplied a Maserati Grecale Modena for this review.