Maserati Grecale luxury SUV review, test drive
Picking apples seemed like a good idea on a sunny Sunday last month. It has rained for eleven consecutive weekends. Long, persistent downpours, sideways storms, impenetrable drizzle – every type of precipitation imaginable. The route will put us on the Saw Mill River Parkway, a two-lane trail that heads north from New York City through the suburbs and into the farm country.
It started well. Four of us and a small dog climbed into the Maserati Grecale, the small SUV the Italian automaker unveiled last year. It’s not the brand’s first foray into the SUV market, with the somewhat larger Levante debuting in 2015, which one wary marketing executive dubbed the “Maserati of SUVs.” The Levante has sold well, but another spot in the company’s lineup is occupied by the Grecale, a luxurious, lightweight small SUV that’s meant to be both practical and fun.
He. She He is Fun to drive! We were in the middle trim, the Grecale Modena, which starts at $74,900 (there’s also a Grecale GT starting at $65,300 and a Grecale Trofeo starting at $105,500), for exactly 47 minutes and 32 seconds at the Saw Mill and then briefly on the highway. The 684 launched its turbocharged four-cylinder mild-hybrid engine briskly from stop lights into the traffic lane. Its steering was precise and there was no understeer even in sharp corners thanks to the electronically dampened suspension. The eight-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly, and comfortable paddles on the steering wheel make it easy to change gears manually while going over hills. Even the roaring exhaust sound was enjoyable.
Then traffic stopped suddenly and ridiculously. The navigation system (which we connected to Waze via Apple Play) showed the remaining 1.8 miles of route, from our location on the freeway exit lane to the choose-your-own orchard entrance, marked in red to denote heavy traffic. Estimated time was 30 minutes. It seems that other people also decided to pick apples.
Every driving test must include a traffic jam. As we inched forward, we opened the Grecale’s huge double-pane sunroof and the dog sniffed out the nearby farms. We played all of Taylor’s releases on a 14-speaker Sonus Faber sound system. We were impressed by the hand-stitched leather seat covers. We created dramatically different microclimates using dual-zone automatic climate controls. We have adjusted the seats to provide optimal individual comfort. We discussed the advantages of rural versus suburban living and whether a car should have a physical volume knob for its audio system or whether Grecale’s touchpad version would suffice. We looked at other people stuck in traffic and wondered if they were as comfortable as us. The dog fell asleep.
According to Maserati, the Grecale shares a design language with two of its other models, the recently re-released GranTurismo coupe and the MC20 super sports car (a new limited-edition MC20 Notte was unveiled earlier this month). “The first point is visual longevity, which means we did our best to refine the shapes of the cars to remove all unnecessary details,” Klaus Boss, who has been Maserati’s head of design since 2015, explained in a recent statement. “This design dates back to the time when we first created the original GranTurismo, which means we combined the typical car body shape with the necessity of covering the wheels with a line. The second point is the balance of opposites with the headlights and grilles as well as the interior, which means we combined the finest Italian materials.” The finest Italian execution and craftsmanship combined with the best technologies from around the world.
It’s easy to spot the similarities between the Grecale and the two-door GranTurismo (which comes in three models, Modena, Trofeo, and the all-electric Folgore). They share some interior control and design touches and both seat four people comfortably. But the Gran Turismo is a class-leading luxury performance coupe, and its price starts at $174,000. The Folgore model goes from 0 to 60 in less than 3 seconds. The Grecale Modena doesn’t come close to the speed, but it does offer a different kind of luxury: a 20-cubic-foot luggage area—great for grocery shopping, family vacations, and even apple picking.
Eventually, we reached the end of the exit lane and were faced with a choice. To the right we could continue to wait in the long line of cars to get to the apple orchard. To the left was an empty country road. The driver of a white Mini Cooper swerved to the left and knocked it to the ground. Follow us in a few moments. About a mile down the road we passed a Mini that had been stopped in a speed trap. We quickly returned and then spent the rest of the afternoon driving around the back roads with the windows down.
Norman Vanname is the articles director City and countryside.