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The Grecale wind is here in the new Maserati GT

By Cameron Douglas

The Grecale wind is here in the new Maserati GT
A test drive of the luxury car brand’s newest model reveals the irresistible appeal of this Italian classic.

Getting my driver’s licence at the age of 15 was one of the most exciting things for a teenage boy growing up in the 1980s. It felt like a rite of passage, to what I’m not sure. Back then, the practical driving test was conducted by a traffic officer, in uniform. There was a clear message in having him conduct the assessment – i.e. show me you can drive a car safely. The real message though was when he eyeballed me at the end of the assessment and said, “Stay alive”. 

I took that test in my mother’s car, it had a manual gearbox, hand-winding windows, no air conditioning or touchscreen, a basic radio, single-speed wipers, vinyl seats and I had to go to the back of the car to open the boot. 

Roll forward 40 years and many car purchases later, I currently drive a V8 Fastback, 10-speed auto machine with all the mod cons of today and I love it. Truth is though, it’s a gas guzzler, its carbon footprint is probably terrible so like you perhaps, I have been thinking about the impact on the planet, and I need to consider an alternative. The increase in availability of electric cars, hybrids and partial hybrids means I have some research to do. Which brand of car is best for me, how important is speed and luxury, and what impacts it will have on the environment are all serious considerations. Am I a petrolhead? Not really. Am I excited by a fast-looking car? Absolutely. So, when the opportunity to test-drive the newly released Maserati Grecale came along, I knew this was a unique opportunity to not only drive a next-generation luxury vehicle, it was also an opportunity to learn more about performance, economy and power with fewer emissions. 

On the test drive day, I was given a comprehensive overview of the brand and its history, and had a look at other Maserati vehicles on show. Then it was time to jump in the new Grecale. 

The Grecale, named after a north-easterly Mediterranean wind, is a sport utility vehicle (SUV), very spacious and absolute luxury from nose to tail. Maserati’s renowned trident insignia is branded throughout the vehicle with thoughtful and elegant placement, including on the 20-inch alloy wheels. The body features gloss black finish logos, front splitter, grille, window shades and inserts on the side skirts and dark exhausts. The leather seats were more than comfortable, they mould around the passenger and held me in place snugly. They are also heated when needed. 

My current car has paddle-shift levers to change gears quickly that are attached to the back of the steering wheel, they turn with the rotation of the steering wheel. For the Grecale the paddles are attached to the column remaining fixed when turning the wheel; this is an excellent idea though it does take some time to get used to. I’m not sure yet if this is any more useful than the conventional. The driver’s on-screen display is excellent, in fact flawless; I had no trouble navigating the instrument panel or adjusting the screen displays. The projection of speed onto the windscreen was very useful while driving and keeping my eyes on the road ahead. Nearly everything is now touch-controlled. All it takes is a brush of the finger to access the technical features and shortcuts. Two displays are included, a larger central 12.3-inch screen and another 8.8-inch panel for extra controls, both positioned ergonomically for the driver. Because there are many ways in which to set the cockpit environment, it will take a couple of hours’ reading to get an understanding of all the settings available and I do suggest you do this. That said, one can just start the engine and start driving. 

The automatic transmission control is not a dial, nor is it a T-bar, it is a set of buttons at the front of where a T-bar usually sits, and they are super-easy to operate. For drivers who are used to a lever handbrake or foot brake, the Grecale does not have one. When the car is stationary, for example at traffic lights, the brake is engaged and automatically releases when the accelerator is touched, a bit like the i-stop of other cars, but better. This is a seamless action, and you will get used to this quickly. Like many other modern cars, when the parking mode is engaged the brake system is also engaged, and firmly. For someone who grew up using the conventional park-brake system I was expecting the car to roll backwards an inch or two when I engaged the brake, but this did not happen, it held firm immediately. There are five different drive-modes: Comfort, GT, Sport, Corsa (Trofeo model only) and Off-Road, it is an SUV after all.

Also in the cockpit are two phone-charging pads, so no messy cables to get in the way, it is easy to pair a phone with the car’s system and the usual Apple Play links available. There are USB slots dotted around the vehicle as well. The sound system is exceptional; a design by Sonus faber – it is high performance with clarity and purity. Your choice of music will be enough to make you and potentially your choir of passengers start singing. A key driver feature is the voice control on-board function. It’s there to prevent any driver distractions and the Grecale is equipped with a new voice recognition system with software, microphone technology and natural voice functionality. Simply saying “Hey Maserati, set temperature to 21 degrees” for example, is enough; there is no need to press a button to start the voice recognition system.

The passenger space in the back is generous and very comfortable. Passenger legroom in the back is always an issue for someone with long legs but it’s not an issue with this car; even with the driver’s seat set all the way back, there was plenty of leg room. The interior features an embroidered and stitched graphic motif, this develops across the dashboard, panels and seats. 

The trunk/boot has decent space for luggage; it’s quite square-looking yet functional. There is no spare wheel or space-saver wheel, so if you get a flat tyre you will need to use the modern inflatable foam system included or call roadside assist. 

Under the hood/bonnet for my test drive car was a four-cylinder mild hybrid engine, and sometime in the future, the Grecale range will have a full-electric version. For my test drive I had control of the GT that combines a four-cylinder internal combustion engine with a 48-V mild hybrid system. Acceleration is as quick as you want it to be with zero lag when you put your foot down. While driving the open road, rather than accelerate through the gears I suggest the paddles on the steering column will enhance the performance and handling as successfully as a sudden burst of power. The Grecale is available in three versions: the GT which I drove; the Modena, with a four-cylinder 330-hp mild hybrid engine; and the Trofeo, a high-performance 530-hp petrol V6-based engine. 

Performance wise, a real treat, the acceleration is very quick without being dangerous, the car holds the road well, enters corners without the feeling of slippage and is not so big that you need to keep checking your distance from the one side of the lane to another. The GT is 4,846mm long with a wheelbase of 2,901mm, a height of 1,670mm, and a width of 2,163mm (including wing mirrors).

How much does a Grecale cost? Well, it’s in keeping with the Maserati range and considering the design, comfort, luxury and styling I think you’ll be happy: The Grecale GT that I drove is $124K, the Modena $145K and the Trofeo $186K. All include GST. If you decide to buy one of these vehicles your input into colour and some of the interior design features can be included, so there’s a timeline between ordering and delivery of a few months. I think a purchase of this kind is worth the wait.

If you need some technical information, you can find more details online here, however before you examine these details, I strongly advise you arrange a test drive first. The Maserati styling, comfort, luxury, excellent road handling and genuine design excellence is what should be experienced first.

Finally, brand loyalty is nothing new when it comes to motor vehicle purchase decisions, and it is very easy just to stay with what you know best, I have to admit I am one of those people. That said, after driving the Grecale GT and being so very impressed with the completeness of the car, I can’t help but wonder what it would be like to drive to work each day or go on vacation in one of these super-stylish vehicles.

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