The Maserati Grecale Trofeo SUV. All photography courtesy of Maserati

A MASERATI SURPRISING me was not something I had on my bingo cards this week. It’s not that my expectations were low, I am just a hard marker when it comes to marques promising sportscar performance in an SUV package. And to be honest, in recent years, I’ve not connected as well to Maserati’s vehicles as others have (except the MC20 sports car — that thing runs like honey). What I certainly did not expect, was a complete blend of comfort, dynamic, design and racy joy. Alas, here I am, running my hands over the leather-wrapped steering wheel of the Grecale Trofeo SUV, ready to hand it back over to Maserati thinking, “Alright, Modena, you got me.” 

The Maserati Grecale Trofeo SUV, a complete blend of comfort, dynamic, design and racy joy.

The idea of a trident-stamped SUV isn’t new. Legend has it that lauded designer (and one of the most influential car designers of all time), Giorgetto Giugiaro, showed Maserati his idea for an SUV back in 2003, after Porsche revealed the wildly successful Cayenne. This led to a concept called the Kubang in 2011 and then after that, came the Levante in 2016. As Maserati’s first foray into high-riding territory, Levante was a lovely performance-focused SUV which helped inch the brand into the homes of those seeking a more versatile luxury steed. But sadly, Levante never quite became the smash hit it was envisioned to be. Production stalled in the key years that closely followed its launch and despite having many fans who loved the vehicle, Levante seemed to get swallowed up by the sheer amount of competitors dominating the space. I’m using past tense, as of this year, Levante production has ended. And Grecale, by all accounts and purposes, is the result of Maserati going to the mattresses and sharpening its spears. 

Grecale is the most considered, technology and human-centred model that Maserati has released in recent years, probably ever. It’s been developed and built in Italy, and the result of at least $1.2 billion of investment — so when I say Maserati meant business, this is what’s behind the drive. It’s also the first model to benefit from the new technology driving Maserati’s huge shift into electrification, as by next year, a fourth and fully-electric variant, the Grecale Folgore, will start to make its way down under. But for now, we’re not here to talk about electrics, but the delicious V6-powered, top-tier Gracale Trofeo, which just so happens to have me enthralled. 

On first look, Grecale is a beauty. It has that signature Maserati blend of grace, handsomeness and sophistication — lovely fluid and curvaceous lines, a bold front end with a low, forward-shifted grille and distinctive boomerang-shaped or ‘trapezoidal’ taillights (a nod to the modern classic and Giugiaro-designed Maserati 3200 GT). The badging is rather cool too, with Trofeo written in a speedy, almost ‘90s-style font. Inside, there’s extensive use of fine materials like wood, carbon fibre and leather, accentuated with the same trapezoidal motifs all over. One of the multiple reasons I have fallen so hard for this SUV, is the clever use of space. The cabin, designed with functionality in mind, cossets the front occupants, almost tricking the senses into thinking you’re in a coupe, and not at all an almost 3-metre SUV. And yet, it’s incredibly spacious — best in class, says Maserati. After taking four friends for a joyride, I had zero headroom complaints from those on the taller side of average; a nice balancing act for those wanting a sports car feel, in a five-seater SUV. Maserati, well done. 

Fine materials like wood, carbon fibre and leather, accentuated with the same trapezoidal motifs all over, characterise the Grecale Trofeo SUV’s interior.

On the road, once you open up Grecale and let its F1-inspired engine and dynamic drive modes come out to play, it gets really special. The Grecale Trofeo is powered by the delicious 3.0L V6 Nettuno engine — which was first seen in the MC20 and has been adopted from technology used in Formula 1 (though slightly detuned and refined for daily consumption and Co2 reduction for Grecale). From its deep, symphonic note to the sharp throttle, large brakes, air suspension and smooth responsiveness of the transmission — and I am a sucker for cool-touch fixed aluminium paddle shifters — it’s glorious. The compact size of the steering wheel and 14-way adjustable seat and bolstering is also a nicely considered bonus, as it’s these little things that can help elicit a sense of control, and match nicely with the directness of the steering. I say this, as there are plenty of super-SUVs out there that brag the latter dynamics, but not the former driver feel. The Grecle Trofeo can put out 390kW/620Nm of torque, jump 0-100km/h in 3.8 seconds and has a top speed of 285km/h. And having been lucky enough to have driven Levante’s Trofeo variant on a track before, if I owned this, I’d be booking myself in for a few sneaky track days over at Sydney Motorsport Park to really see how hard this machine can flex. Please do, future owners. 

Doubling down on functionality, the Modena marque has also re-considered its technology offering too, or what it refers to as ‘in-car pleasure’ — isn’t marketing speak grand? A 12.3-inch screen makes its debut in the centre, placed under the signature (and digitally customisable) Maserati clock. It’s powered by an Android Auto system, but still has Apple CarPlay, and has a dual-tab screen so you can swap between functions easily. Everything is accessible via this system, which can make it a bit confusing at first, but it’s customisable so you can save your favourite functions at will. 

Plus, it has the ability for two smartphones to be connected to Bluetooth at once, importantly reducing AUX cord fights on road trips. However, a real “in-car pleasure” is the seriously mean 1200W 21-speaker Sonus faber 3D sound system designed specifically for Grecale. The natural-sounding clarity and depth is exquisite and was enough to launch me into a rabbit hole where I discovered the Italian audio company released a special edition Maserati Grecale special edition speaker, but I digress. Look, it’s immersive and crazy good. It just might even be my new favourite in-car stereo, seeing as though I’ll never get close to the $50,000 Naim by Mulliner audio system found in the multi-million dollar Bentley Batur. “Hey Maserati, can you play the sound of tiny violins?” 

In today’s market, we’re certainly not lacking in options when it comes to luxury and performance-focused SUVs. In the week that this four-door Italian was in my possession, I had more people approach me to ask about it than any of its competitors I’ve driven — it’s a head tilter and turner. And like its predecessor, Grecale has some big competitors jostling for their place in the sun, but I think it’ll do just fine. It’s the complete package of beauty and braun, a design that speaks to a cooler, more dynamic future without dismissing the past, and pure joy to drive. All this makes it a very much not-to-be-underestimated offering. I know we’re not supposed to call it a comeback, but in this case, I will. 

Maserati is back, baby.

Maserati Grecale Trofeo starts at $189,500 (excluding on-road costs),  


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