Maserati Grecale Folgore first drive: A luxury electric SUV that was worth the wait

While there’s no exotic combustion exhaust note, the SUV provides the driving excitement you’d expect from an Italian exotic like Maserati.
blue SUV drives on a road in from of a rocky hill
The first full-electric Maserati SUV: Grecale Folgore. Maserati

The 2024 Maserati Grecale Folgore is the fulfillment of a pledge. When the luxury vehicle manufacturer introduced the Grecale crossover SUV two years ago, it promised a battery-electric version in the future.

The Grecale Folgore was worth the wait. No gas-powered model can match the silence and smoothness of the Grecale Folgore. The effortless power is delivered by its front and rear, which each contribute 279 horsepower for a total of 558 horsepower. 

This vaults the Folgore (Maserati applies this label to the EV versions of its cars) to 62 mph (100 kph) in 4.1 seconds, despite the car’s 5,456-lb. curb weight. Top speed is rated at 138 mph, which is obviously plenty, even if it doesn’t live up to Maserati’s legendary speed capability. Blame ‘70s rocker Joe Walsh for his “My Maserati does 185, I lost my license, now I don’t drive” lyric for the inflated expectations.

A need for (charging) speed

But the Grecale is speedy in a specification that is more relevant in the age of electric cars: charging. Its DC fast-charging speed is a conventional 150 kilowatts, which is supported by many public charging stations. This will bring the car’s 105-kW 400-volt battery pack from a 20 percent state of charge to 80 percent in less than 30 minutes.

The unexpected part is that the Grecale Folgore’s on-board charger–the one that handles AC current from your home wall box or from Level 2 AC public charging stations–can handle 22 kW, which is double the current level that most EVs top out at.

a grey SUV plugged into a charger
Image: Maserati

My own ChargePoint home charging station tops out at 9.6 kW. But Maserati will provide Grecale owners with a 22-kW box for their homes to support the vehicle. Users will need the box to deliver that much power from their home’s electrical system, which may require extra work by electricians. It will be worth the extra effort, as it should top off the battery in less than five hours–instead of the more typical nine hours. When you charge overnight, the difference won’t matter. But for mid-day top-offs between errands or carpool runs, it can ensure the Grecale preserves its driving range.

Maserati says that the SUV will go 310 miles on a charge. During a test drive in southern Italy, my test car’s computer predicted a driving range of 290 miles with a 96 percent charge, which is slightly less than the company’s rating. But the cool morning air can reduce range estimates as the car heats the cabin.

Image: Maserati

Testing different drive modes

That drive also revealed the Grecale to be comfortable and nimble, with lively, accurate steering and handling. This is a contrast to the Rivian R1S with its relentlessly harsh ride, even though the Maserati rolled on 21-inch wheels, nearly as large as the Rivian’s 22s. Large wheels contribute to a harsh ride because their low-profile tires have less rubber sidewall between the wheel and the road surface to absorb bumps.

Computer-controlled air suspension, which is optional on combustion-powered Grecales, is standard on the Folgore to help provide expected levels of ride and handling despite the mass of the battery pack weighing the car down. The suspension is controlled by Maserati’s Chassis Domain Control Module (CDCM), just like the one in Maserati’s MC20 super sports car. Maserati says that the system operates predictively, rather than reactively, to control movement in the vertical, longitudinal, and lateral axes.

That suspension bolts to a frame that is made of three large-scale aluminum castings rather than stamped sheets of steel. Tesla has pioneered this manufacturing approach, which eliminates hundreds of parts that must be connected together and replaces them with a handful of castings. The technique simplifies assembly and provides a rigid platform for the suspension (but we have yet to learn the implications for crash repairs in case of an accident).

The Grecale Folgore offers multiple selectable driving modes: Max Range, GT, Sport, and Off-Road. The Off-Road mode raises the vehicle on its suspension for added ground clearance. Maserati wisely skipped providing an off-road course for testing, which makes sense given that the car’s buyers can’t really be considering taking it off-roading with any regularity.

Instead, I focused on the on-road driving dynamics. I found that the Max Range, GT, and Sport modes each have different feelings, as they increasingly speed up the power delivery. That means the accelerator pedal gets touchier as you work up the range. Correspondingly, while holding the pedal still, you can see the Grecale’s energy consumption increase significantly when switching from Max Range to GT and then to Sport.

Unlike some vehicle accelerator pedals that seem to go limp and become unresponsive in the maximum range mode, the Grecale still drives like a Maserati, even in that least-sporty setting. 

Inside the recycled interior

The Grecale Folgore retains the steering wheel-mounted shift paddles of the combustion-powered models, but repurposes those paddles to let the driver adjust the levels of brake regeneration. Maserati’s engineers have done a good job calibrating the regeneration so that it feels natural and the switch-over to the friction brakes as the vehicle comes to a stop is not discernible.

The 12.3-inch center-mounted infotainment display supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and there’s a wireless charging pad at the base of the dashboard. The virtual analog clock in the circular display at the top of the dashboard switches briefly to show a lightning bolt to confirm that your phone is charging.

black infotainment system screen showing different settings and clock
Image: Maserati

In keeping with its green perspective, the Grecale Folgore uses recycled nylon for its upholstery. This fabric is Aquafil’s ECONYL, which is made using nylon recovered from recycled carpeting and fishing nets. Compared to other recycled plastics, nylon has the advantage of being able to be chemically recycled instead of mechanically recycled. 

This means that the recycled material is indistinguishable from nylon made from petroleum, according to Aquafil sustainability communications practitioner Martina Santoni. Because of this trait, nylon can be recycled repeatedly, in true circular economy fashion, she says. “Circularity is the only solution possible in every sector,” Santoni insists.

red and black interior back seats
Image: Maserati

While the Folgore’s aims are green, the electric model’s signature color is a coppery matte hue called Rame Folgore, which is meant to evoke the copper used in the EV’s wiring. It has the appeal of being unique and interesting.

The same could be said for the Grecale Folgore itself. Driving a Maserati might not be every EV buyer’s preference, but those who do choose it will appreciate its classically Italian style combined with a modern focus on efficiency.

an SUV in front of cargo containers and an electric turbine
Image: Maserati