Maserati is relatively new to the world of SUVs, but the Grecale Modena S is one of the latest luxury crossovers in the automaker’s lineup that meshes Italian flair with modern elegance and comfort.

For a storied brand like Maserati, this is a bit of a gamble, considering other luxury carmakers have already set deeper roots in the SUV category. To stand out, it has to find ways to blend the roaring performance emblematic of its name with something that feels more approachable and sublime. It comes in three model trims: GT, Modena and Trofeo. A fully-electric model called the Foglore will come later.

For starters, the word “Grecale” refers to winds that blow in a northeastern direction across the Italian peninsula, indicating the Modena S isn’t to be taken lightly. Being in the middle of the various trims, this SUV has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine with 325 horsepower and 332 pounds of torque. In contrast, the Trofeo is the only one with a twin-turbo 3.0-litre engine that raises all those figures, but also costs at least $40,000 CAD more.

Some things stand out from the outside, not least of which is the trident logo adorning the front grille and along the sides towards the rear. The grille itself is hard to miss for its overall design, giving the Grecale a sense of power in front of the prestige and polish that covers the rest of the vehicle.

Not surprisingly, the exterior looks sleek, and the grey paint job exuded a classy finish, along with door handles that sit flush with the body. The 19-inch wheels come with some flair of their own courtesy of the obvious calipers, which were red in this test-drive model. Sleek tail lights make the vehicle feel somewhat wider, while the twin exhaust pipes below suggest there’s power under the hood.

Maserati leaned heavily on leather, wood and carbon fibre to craft an interior cabin that fits well with the brand’s reputation for comfort and style. The attractive crimson-red leather has tasteful stitching to match, including the black leather used for the steering wheel, making for a nice contrast that’s easy to appreciate every time you step inside.

There are three screens to work with, starting with the 12.3-inch infotainment display with built-in settings and easy access to CarPlay and Android Auto. Below that is an 8.8-inch display for the Grecale’s climate control, all of which is touch-based, as there are no physical buttons for that. Most of the buttons lie in between the transmission or on the steering wheel, where you have shortcuts to a variety of features. Another 12.3-inch display sits in front of the steering wheel. Then there’s the iconic clock in the middle on the dash — digital, mind you, but with a nod to the tradition behind the Maserati brand.

Once it hits the road, the Grecale is an interesting drive, partly because it veers away (figuratively speaking) from Maserati’s long-time pedigree for building cars that not only drive really fast but also roar their way in doing so. This SUV is a four-banger that can’t match what a typical Maserati V8 can do on the road, but perhaps that’s the point. There are four modes to drive with — Comfort, Sport, GT, Race — the latter two give the Grecale some pep, including an audible growl when accelerating.

It can go from 0-100 km/h in five seconds, which is decent under the circumstances. The all-wheel drive powertrain and suspension ensure a smooth drive throughout, which is important unto itself since Maserati clearly aimed this vehicle at those who may have never owned one before. It’s better on gas than expected for a crossover SUV at this level, but a four-cylinder engine shouldn’t be as thirsty anyway.

If you want to jump in and ride one for yourself, the Grecale Modena S starts at $87,600 CAD ($74,395 USD) before tax and package add-ons.