we tested the future SUV at the Trident

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Invite an automotive journalist to test a car – other than a pure sportswoman – on a circuit is not doing him a favor! To the car gets along because, for the journalist, it is a day of celebration: no speed limit, no risk of someone arriving in front, no highway code, no cap on the horizon … the car, on the other hand, is a ruthless judge. Brakes, suspensions, running gear are more stressed.

However, an appointment was given to us at Balocco, the Fiat group’s multi-track test center, now in the colors of the Stellantis group. They are still not crazy at Maserati! They are not going to entrust a camouflaged prototype of their last baby without taking precautions.

A highly anticipated SUV

Normally he should have removed his colorful disguise, but the post-Covid component shortage has thwarted the timeline of Maserati and … others. It is therefore under close surveillance that we took the wheel of the Grecale, future little brother of Levante. A novelty on which the future of the Trident largely rests. The brand would like to regain a level of sales around 50,000 cars per year in the world, when it is currently rather halfway.

“Small” here takes on a relative dimension, even if it is indeed the smallest Maserati of the modern era. 4.85 m, just 16 cm shorter than the Levante, he’s already a beautiful baby, at least for Europe. Make no mistake, the Grecale is eyeing the United States above all (where the size of cars and portions of burgers are concerned) to make his butter. It is also 16 cm longer (half of which is distributed over the wheelbase) than its cousin theAlfa Romeo Stelvio, from which he borrows the platform Giorgio, hailed many times for its dynamism.

The shortest Maserati in the range

And since it is about the shortest Maserati in the range, it is not far-fetched to think that it will also be the cheapest, including compared to the Ghibli. A prestigious badge, promising technical bases, all for a well-placed price : it does not take more to make us salivate when pressing the button Start Engine, located just under the left branch of the steering wheel. And on the right, the Manettino is there to adjust its driving style.

This is about all that we will see of the‘interior, also camouflaged. On the menu, four possibilities: Comfort, GT, Sport and Off road. But no “Individual” to concoct a Grecale to his liking, as with certain rivals. “We have worked on each driving mode with specific settings that interact with each other so that the Grecale always displays consistent behavior, in the purest Grand Touring spirit”, justifies Federico De Medio, the person in charge of the technical validation. Understand: a sporty yet comfortable SUV. “Adjusting Sport suspensions with Comfort steering is not logical, so we prefer not to offer it. “

A 2.0 4-cylinder does not sell dreams …

The argument holds. Likewise, each mode is associated with a specific engine sound. No question of “cheating”. Obviously, after a little warm-up in Comfort, which does not usurp its name – the suspensions even allowing themselves to go to a few movements – and a brief passage in GT mode – the aptly named where the settings are already made a little more sportsmen, but… not too much – the desire to switch to Sport is irresistible. At least the difference between the offers is marked.

In particular with regard to the throttle response, the adjustment of the suspensions which, without ever losing any of their flexibility and their ability to erase the defects of the road, better control the body roll, and especially the sound of the engine. She manages quite skillfully to forget thecommoner origin of this mechanics. A priori, a 4 cylinder 2.0, even of 300 ch and associated with a micro-hybridization of 48 V, that does not sell dreams. But the little gas in the upshift and the subtle metallic sizzle in his voice are nicely illusion. On the other hand, the steering is too assisted to our liking and uninformative.

Plug-in hybrid point on the horizon

Very good in Comfort, for a smooth ride, but in Sport, we would have nothing against a more incisive response … Stelvio ! Without being stingy in sensations, the Grecale favors a touch of the road while progressiveness. At least this GT version, which promises to be the entry level. Other more powerful and … noble engines would be on the program, alongside a 100% electric Greek. But noplug-in hybrid on the horizon. A clear bias, fiscally penalizing in France, which will have to be assumed. In the immediate future, this micro-hybrid version promises to contain its CO2 emissions to stay below € 10,000 penalty.

A real performance for a brand of which almost the whole range will be taxed to the maximum. We hope we can believe it if the consumption surreptitiously read on the on-board computer – 8.9 l / 100 km – is correct. Not bad … It is true that 300 hp which effectively drive the machine never tumble violently. A very … Grand Tourism, which even gives the impression of hiding its game. Supple, soft, the 2.0 is, moreover, well supported by the 8-speed automatic transmission, which comes at the right time. It hardly pushes to switch to manual, if not for the pleasure of playing with the large paddles at the wheel.

We could see the dashboard!

the road behavior is in the same line: efficient, precise, but never really radical, and without falling into the trap of a false sportiness that it cannot assume. A Maserati is also a atmosphere, a class apart. And there we stayed on our hunger. Not that the machine is disappointing, far from it, but because we did not see anything. Finally … Taking advantage of a moment of inattention from my supervisors, I cheated! At the wheel, I had inevitably noticed that the gear selector disappeared in favor of buttons on the console, leaving room for more storage between the seats.

I especially looked under the ugly black skirt that dressed the dashboard to discover two or three promising details: a large digital screen, which proves that Maserati is going all-touch, completes digital on-board instrumentation fully configurable. And what about the famous maserati clock ? Well, it too is becoming digital to leave the choice of display and, above all, of information: the time, of course, but also the G taken, or the pressure on the gas or the brakes… A way of mean that Maserati is entering a new era.

Maserati Grecale: its advantages

  • Comfort
  • Habitability
  • Atmosphere

Maserati Grecale: its minuses

  • “Maserati” Prize
  • Uninformative direction
  • Inevitable penalty

The results of The Auto-Journal

Very difficult to give a rating to a prototype, after only a few laps of the track. Like the settings of the Grecale, this note will evolve when the machine deigns to completely lift the veil. In the meantime, he already promises a lot …

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