2023 Maserati Grecale Trofeo: La Dolce Vita, Summer Edition

This is the same engine that powers Maserati’s breathtaking new supercar in the MC20, but in a milder state of tune for Grecale duty

HOME POPULAR 2023 Maserati Grecale Trofeo: La Dolce Vita, Summer Edition

Adam Allen Writer - Carpages.ca

Summer in Ontario is magical.

The bone-grinding cold of winter is firmly in the rearview mirror, the air is redolent with the scent of backyard cookouts and fresh cut grass, and the days are warm and long. Know what makes this time of year even better? Settling into a beautifully trimmed leather seat, opening all the windows, clicking a metal shift paddle into gear and introducing the throttle to the firewall. The blurring scenery that meets the eye is juxtaposed over an exotic V6 soundtrack that goes BRAAAAAP! on every upshift. We aren’t talking about some steroidal sports coupe or the newest high-performance convertible- we’re talking about Maserati’s (somewhat new) Grecale Trofeo SUV.

Perhaps a little introduction is in order. Like many of its competitors, Maserati shrugged off cries of heresy from their diehard fans back in 2016 and gifted the world its Levante SUV. Self-described as the ‘Maserati of SUVs’, it mingled attractive sheet metal with an equally impressive interior and its piece de resistance: A Ferrari derived turbocharged V8 under the hood pumping out nearly 600 horses with the accompanying noises expected of a full-bodied Italian mill.

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Keen to not miss out on the juicy profit margins sporty SUVs bring to the company coffers, Maserati recently introduced a smaller sized SUV to compete with the likes of the Porsche Macan, BMW X3M and Audi SQ5 in a segment that seems to grow each passing model year. It follows the familiar template laid down by the Levante- sharply styled duds, a cockpit trimmed in the latest fashions and technology, and of course, the all-important captivating engine. This powerplant was conceived without the help of Ferrari, but the family resemblance is there- Maserati managed to craft an engine that not only produces the power expected of a hot SUV but also one that sounds fantastic doing it.

Maserati calls it their new twin turbo 3.0 V6 engine ‘Nettuno’ which is named for a small town in Italy. The engine has a couple of interesting tricks up its sleeve- it eschews the ‘hot vee’ turbo setup that’s all the rage these days and features a very sophisticated F1 inspired pre-combustion chamber ignition system (hit up Google to find out how this works but spoiler alert: it’s pretty cool but extremely complicated.) This is the same engine that powers Maserati’s breathtaking new supercar in the MC20, but in a milder state of tune for Grecale duty. Still, 523 horsepower and 457-foot pounds of torque are hearty enough to scramble our Trofeo tester to 100 km/h a few ticks faster than the mighty Levante. A Maserati begs for a soulful engine and this one does not disappoint. Our only criticism is that it should be much louder- even when full red mist Corsa Mode is selected, we found it to be too quiet.

The Nettuno’s might is funneled to all four wheels with the help of a quick shifting 8-speed automatic. It pairs quite well with the turbo V6 and its shifting behavior changes in lockstep with whatever drive mode is tickling your fancy in the moment. In the ‘too much of a good thing’ column we noted huge metal paddle shifters that allow you to run up and down through the gear ratios. They might be a little too big because they get in the way when you want to put on your turn signal or use the windshield wipers. Perhaps downsizing them just a smidge would work wonders in the ergonomic department.

It is in this very department that the Grecale falls a bit short. Sure, its interior exudes a top shelf luxury vibe and is meticulously crafted. At first glance it appears too busy, what with its yellow stitching, carbon fibre appliques and supple leather appearing to be laid out in a mishmash fashion yet somehow it all works quite well together. We fell for the looks but also the thumping Sonus Faber sound system with its intricately machined metal speaker grilles, perfect for pumping your summer playlist at irresponsible volume levels. After a few days it dawned on us that some of the ergonomics weren’t as well thought out as the interior’s aesthetics. The infotainment, while generally good, lacks a volume knob- frankly, it lacks any hard buttons which makes performing medial tasks mildly frustrating. Perhaps the worse gaffe is the pushbutton gear selector. Not only is it difficult to get used to, but sometimes jabbing a button to engage reverse multiple times while impatient drivers lean aggressively on their horns gets old fast. Yes, it does clean up the centre console as intended, but we longed for a traditional gear lever.

Once you’re underway you don’t need to think about selecting gears unless you choose to do so via the oversized but beautiful to behold paddle shifters. We felt that the automatic is so well programmed that we left it alone to do its own thing. If you ask the Grecale to hunker down and get nasty, it’ll willingly comply. This is an SUV that feels most in its element when you mandate a brisk pace down a stretch of sinuous tarmac. It’s impressive from a dynamic standpoint- the steering is sharp and accurate, the brakes bite down hard and scrub off speed drama free and the air suspension that coddled your keister on the superslab becomes more aggressive and serves up considerable grip. Thankfully, the Grecale lives up to the Trident badge on the nose and will serve as a reminder why you opted for the Trofeo model- that’s the one to have if only the ultimate in performance and handling will do from your SUV.

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You aren’t going to be shocked to learn that the Grecale Trofeo is an expensive proposition, and neither were we. Still, we did a double take when we saw the sticker price of our tester. At $148,100, it is much more expensive than a comparatively optioned Porsche Macan GTS which is pretty dear financially in its own right- never mind that the pricing delta widens even further when you consider the BMW X3M or Audi SQ5 cost of entry. Once you get past those numbers staring unblinking back at you on the window sticker, there’s not much to complain about save for poorly designed electronic door handles (what was wrong with the ones on the Levante?) and the odd snafu that occurred, like when the keyless entry refused to unlock or the infotainment screen slowing down response times seemingly at random when performing medial tasks.  

Folks with prior experience living with a Maserati will simply wave their hand dismissively and reach for the Chianti while enjoying a fine meal al fresco; this kind of behavior is not new to them, and they take it in stride what with all the delights the Grecale Trofeo has to offer. For them, nothing beats the sound the Nettuno turbo six makes when cold started on early mornings or the way the intricate amalgam of leather and carbon fibre feel to the touch when they step inside. For them, La Dolce Vita is just a press of the engine start button away. And while summer in Ontario is undeniably wonderful, perhaps the best part of owning a Greacale Trofeo is that it isn’t a one season pony- you can enjoy it all year long.

2023 Maserati Grecale Trofeo - Specifications

  • Price as tested: $148,100
  • Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger SUV
  • Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
  • Engine:  3.0-litre turbocharged V6, DOHC, 24 valves
  • Horsepower: 523 @ 6,500 rpm
  • Torque (lb-ft.): 457 @ 3,000 rpm
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic
  • Curb weight: 2,109 kg (4,650 lbs)
  • Observed Fuel Consumption: 14.8L/100 km (16 mpg)
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