To compete at the highest level is the remit of every up-market brand but, when the pinnacle is also a Porsche, highlights Iain Robertson, only the most finely honed of rivals can hope for half a chance of success and he shares concerns that the new Grecale is not demonstrating the best attributes of Maserati, a factor that will damage its repute.
Design balance is the key to Porsche’s phenomenal success story of recent years. If every observer of a specific model emits a ‘Wow!’, you just know that paydirt will be the result. Considering the sheer superficiality of styling and its fluctuating nature, normally controlled by beauty being in the eye of the beholder, the Macan mid-size SUV model is clearly a mark of perfection…it must be, as no dissident voices have been reared against it and it sells like hotcakes. Yet, one of the most beautiful cars in the world also emerged from Maserati, during its period of brand resurgence around 12 to 15 years ago. Whether in coupe, or convertible forms, the stunning GT set a standard that was unbeatable. What an enviable position for this pair of world leading car brands to be in.
However, you will notice that one is from Maserati’s indomitable sportscar past, while the other is from the more pressing urgency of modern Porsche’s burgeoning SUV sector. That Macan has become the force by which others are compared is a measure of how vital to the world car market the SUV scene has become. Yet, the sheer practicality of the SUV ought to make it significantly less viable as a thing of beauty. It is a fascinating dichotomy. Taking a detailed view of the new Grecale, the influence of the Macan is abundantly clear in its various styling elements but the Grecale is trying far too hard to beat Macan at its own game. It is just a little too earnest…a little overarching in its styling presence and it misses the point by a long chalk. Aping Macan, which it tries to with each dimensional aspect, is an inadequate gesture.
Yet, Grecale is not unattractive and looks more compact than its 4.8m body length suggests. Naturally, some of this optical illusion lies in the diameter of its alloy wheels and the manner by which the wheelarch cavities are filled, all of which is Macan inspired unsurprisingly. Three versions are being unveiled immediately, the 300bhp four-cylinder, mild hybrid GT, 330bhp, also mild hybrid Modena and the 530bhp, 3.0-litre V6 Trofeo, which cracks the 0-60mph blitz in 3.5s and tops out at around 175mph. Although mentioned in despatches, the Folgore 400v all-electric version will arrive early next year.
However, Maserati has another ace up its sleeve in the form of its elegant interior detailing. Long renowned for the exquisite use of materials…Alcantara suede, high-grade instrumentation, finely grained wood trim and premium quality hide…the cockpit layout of Grecale is unerringly beautiful, yet relies on modern electronics and configurable multi-screen displays. A Sonus-Faber sound system equipped with 14 speakers as standard but upgradable to a 21 speaker hi-fi system ensures only the highest quality, 360-degree sound reproduction and is accompanied by a full complement of digital connectivity that includes voice control, sat-nav and both passive and active safety equipment and driver aids. No longer incorporating built-in obsolescence and unreliability, the electronics package is extensive and dependable.
Conclusion: A judiciously engineered 4×4 system, featuring a five-ways switchable traction snd stability control ensures that Grecale is a match for Macan on the dynamics front and its unconfirmed pricing is said to compare favourably with the mid-size Porsche. Of course, Maserati has been developing its customer base extensively for the past couple of decades and Grecale will satisfy much of it, even though the clear market winner is still the Porsche Macan.