First drive: Maserati Grecale MHEV prototype review

In terms of powertrain, with the exception of the electric version, all Grecales will use an eight-speed automatic gearbox from ZF, which is then mated to either a 2.0-litre mild-hybrid petrol with 296bhp, as driven here, or a detuned version of the 621bhp Nettuno 3.0-litre V6 built by Maserati in Modena and currently serving amidships in the MC20. All Grecales also will use four-wheel drive: the very same Q4 set-up employed by Alfa Romeo. It can split torque 50:50 between the axles, but Maserati’s engineers say that in certain drive modes and for certain models – for a Grecale Trofeo, perhaps – torque can go solely to the rear axle and can be remain there even as the car goes beyond the tyres’ limits of grip and traction. All very ‘dynamic’. 

Heading out onto Balocco’s Langhe track – at 5km long, a proper adventure, and designed to emulate the twisty, undulating, often poorly surfaced and today greasy roads of the Piedmontese region after which it’s named – the Grecale feels familiar. Anybody who’s driven Alfa Romeo’s Stelvio will recognise the nice blend of cornering balance and agility, and the manner in which the car doesn’t try to eradicate body roll, Porsche Macan style, but almost to allow it, for better sense of flow. The steering, which is a little synthetic but reassuringly weighted and well geared, also suits Maserati’s GT car intentions with the Grecale. And you quickly learn to take lock off earlier than expected because of the conspicuously rear-led manner in which the car powers out of corners. Again, all encouraging things. 

The general sense of familiarity is because the Giorgio platform that makes both the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio such satisfying driver’s options in their classes also serves this new Maserati. The Grecale has wider tracks than the Stelvio, predominantly so its maker can claim best-in-class interior space, and the car’s staggered wheel and tyre package is different (sizes from 19in to 21in will be offered, and our car wears the 20in option), but fundamentally it’s the same base. Even the Stelvio’s suspension geometry has been mostly copied, with the only real adjustments existing to accommodate mode-selectable, three-chamber air suspension units, which are substantial and need careful guiding through the front axle’s double wishbones.


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