Looks, power, comfort and performance – Maserati’s Grecale SUVs have it all. Gordon Lam rediscovers his passion for the best-in-class series with the first test drive of the new Maserati Grecale Modena
Ever since its launch in 2016 as the Italian luxury car brand’s first SUV, the Maserati Levante has always caught my eye. There’s just something mysterious and mesmerising about its bold look and beautiful curves. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I must say I have been in love with Maserati – and all things Italian, for that matter – for a long time. So, when the team invited me for a taste of their latest SUV model, the Maserati Grecale Modena, it was an offer I surely couldn’t refuse.
After a short briefing and signing of the usual documents, this time at the Gentry Club at K11 Musea, I was the first to take part in the Grecale Modena’s maiden voyage in Hong Kong. I almost never feel nervous when I test drive a super sports car, let alone a SUV. However, this time, I had another journalist joining me because her driver’s licence had expired and wouldn’t be ready in time for the test drive.
The idea of having a back-seat passenger who happened to be a member of the press observing my driving skills was nerve- wracking to say the least. After setting up all my filming equipment, including a 360-degree camera on a long stick mounted on the front bonnet, I was ready to take the Grecale Modena for a spin.
When I stopped at the first set of traffic lights, there were lots of eyeballs staring at me – especially with all the pedestrians getting ready to cross the road. I wasn’t sure if they were looking at me, the car or the camera sticking out of the front of the car. I felt like a Formula 1 driver at the start of a race, ready for the red light to go off with all eyes and all the pressure on me.
The new Maserati Gracele SUV is available in a GT version, equipped with a four-cylinder mild hybrid engine capable of 300 hp, in the Modena with a four-cylinder 330-hp mild hybrid engine, and in the high- performance Trofeo with a 530-hp V6.
The Grecale Modena we tested can reach a top speed of 240 km/h and 0-100 km/h in 5.3 seconds. After the red light turned green and in the typical Hong Kong traffic, it took me 5.3 seconds at 30 km/h before I had to stop again. Trust me, I wasn’t complaining – when you’re taking the love of your life out on a first date, you should take things slow and not rush it. In the future, by the way, the Grecale range will include the Full-Electric version, the first fully electrified SUV in Maserati’s history and using 400V technology.
One thing you will find about the Grecale Modena is that the steering wheel is super light with its power steering. It’s also much smaller than that of a GranTurismo, which I’m accustomed to, and the handling was so light it felt like holding a newborn baby. In fact, I felt like I was floating on a cloud gliding across the sky with no effort needed.
This latest model also features the Maserati Intelligent Assistant (MIA) multimedia system, the latest infotainment, comfort display, digital clock and the Heads- up Display, available as an option. The all-around sound experience, meanwhile, includes the iconic signature sound of the Maserati engine paired with the immersive Sonus faber multi-dimensional sound system. With that said, the Grecale is the kind of car that you can surely drive every day, hence its tagline “The Everyday Exceptional”.
Our route for the test drive was short and sweet, taking less than 10 minutes to complete. But if you know anything about cars, even 10 minutes with the Sports Mode turned on feels so effortless that most car buyers with family in mind would definitely consider this as their first choice of SUV. With an early bird purchase price starting at HK$865,000 (current retail HK$1,068,000), this is a very tempting and attractive offer indeed.
Once I got back to K11 for the next driver to take their turn, and after everyone got out of the car except me, I realised I had forgotten to press record on my 360-degree camera. So, I quickly asked the team to give me a second chance to do the filming. Thanks to the short and sweet route, and to the next driver, this time I really went for it. I returned the car in about eight minutes with all the footage I needed. However, if this had been a Trofeo version, I probably could have made it back in three minutes.
In fact, my first date with Maserati didn’t end there. They gave me a double date instead, with the chance to test drive the Maserati MC20 as well. I had a blast! But this will have to wait for another story.