2023 Maserati Grecale Modena: Italian Paradox

Strong points
  • Elegant silhouette
  • Brand prestige
  • Classy and comfortable cabin
  • Driver-friendly controls and interface
Weak points
  • Pretty steep price
  • Disappointing handling
  • Performance could be better
  • Reliability is still a concern
Full report

Sitting at the top of the Maserati lineup, the MC20 sports car and fully redesigned GranTurismo coupe have all the explosiveness and excitement you want.

At the other end, the new Grecale aims to capitalize on the immense popularity of compact SUVs and therefore serves as the brand’s most important product. In fact, it wasted no time becoming the best-selling Maserati globally and in Canada following its launch in early 2023.

Invisible Connections

The Grecale is built on the Giorgio architecture just like the six-year-old Alfa Romeo Stelvio, but is about 9 cm longer including 8.3 cm of extra wheelbase. The latest Jeep Grand Cherokee also shares the same platform, which may surprise quite a few people in North America. Ditto for the Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan and the aforementioned GranTurismo. That’s the way things work at Stellantis, now the world’s fourth-largest automaker.

Photo: Marc Lachapelle

Maseratis have long made a name for themselves with their fabulous-sounding V8 engines that were designed and manufactured by Ferrari in Maranello. This is no longer the case, as you know. The Grecale Modena (as tested) and GT use a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with mild hybrid technology that isn’t so much pleasant to the ear. They boast 325 horsepower and 296 horsepower, respectively, with a 48V starter-alternator feeding a compressor that boosts low-end torque and an electric motor backing up the engine under acceleration.

The Grecale Modena sprints from 0-100 km/h in 5.76 seconds and completes the quarter mile in 14.07 seconds at a speed of 162.1 km/h. What’s more, 80-120 km/h acceleration is achieved in 4.85 seconds. These are good but not great numbers, and the soundtrack leaves a lot to be desired. The more exhilarating Grecale Trofeo gets an MC20-derived, twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 that unleashes 523 ponies. Stopping power is supplied by larger Brembo brakes, while the suspension is firmer and blessed with air springs.

Photo: Marc Lachapelle

Starting at $133,100, the Trofeo is almost twice as expensive as the entry-level GT ($77,300), with the Modena sitting at $87,600. Our tester exceeded $110,000 due to the numerous options that were tacked on. Seriously. Coming early next year will be the all-electric Grecale Folgore, which features a dual-motor setup generating a combined 550 horsepower and a 105kWh battery. Maximum range has not been specified yet but shouldn’t be an issue.

Form Over Function

While the Grecale shares its underpinnings with a number of Italian and American cousins, styling is all Maserati. The massive grille with a chrome-plated Trident in the middle leaves no doubt. The Maserati name adorns the rear liftgate and black Modena badges appear on the front fenders. The lines are smooth and the more muscular rear fenders on Modena and Trofeo models accommodate their wider track and tires.

Photo: Marc Lachapelle

That being said, true beauty lies inside. Our tester sported gorgeous red leather upholstery—a $4,900 option—and the nicely sculpted front seats provide excellent support. Bulkier drivers will feel squeezed, though. The outboard rear seats prove comfortable, and the middle seat will accommodate an extra passenger in a pinch. There’s a 60/40 split for the seatbacks, expanding a trunk that is niftily finished with adjustable tie-downs.

In front of the driver, the configurable displays feature crisp and clear graphics. Next to it is a 12.3-inch touchscreen powered by Android Auto, and just below that one is an 8.8-inch control display for HVAC. Maserati designers really deserve praise, here. We can’t say the same about the four rectangular buttons in gloss black finish that replace the conventional gear selector. They’re simply horrible and unpleasant to use.

The same material abounds on the steering wheel, with as many as 16 controls in gloss black finish. There’s an aluminum rotary dial underneath for selecting drive modes including Comfort, GT and Sport. Just skip the first one because acceleration is weak and low-revving operation is marred by an awful growl. Delightful cracks and pops from the exhaust can be heard when shifting in either GT or Sport mode, whether using the large paddle shifters on the steering column or not. The eight-speed transmission does a commendable job under acceleration but admittedly could be quicker during downshifts.

Photo: Marc Lachapelle

Disappointing Handling

One thing’s for sure, the Grecale Modena didn’t make a lasting impression as far as agility and handling are concerned. And that’s despite the available 255/40R21 front and 295/35R21 rear tires, or a Sport mode that firms up the suspension and drops ride height by 15 mm. Body roll is negligible in sharp corners, but that’s where understeer rears its ugly head and spoils the fun.

Pressing the throttle down only makes the tires squeal instead of helping the Modena get faster around the apex, like the best rivals do. Is the much more potent Grecale Trofeo also a much sharper and nimbler performer in corners? We’ll find out another time. At least ride quality is pleasant. If you want a compact luxury SUV with more finesse and better reflexes, you should consider the Stelvio instead.

When all is said and done, the Grecale is more expensive than similarly powerful and comparably equipped competitors. There’s indeed a steep price to pay for the Maserati name and the unique Italian design, not to mention the refined interior and high-tech interface. Unless you’re mad in love with the Trident, our advice is to shop elsewhere.

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