The name Maserati will likely mean the thought of low slung executive saloon’s or sports coupés with fire breathing petrol engines, stunningly glorious looks and exclusive interiors for most people; however the all new Levante delves deep into new territory.
Territory that comes with highly proven and well established competition from the likes of the Range Rover Sport or Porsche Cayenne but competition that this Italian SUV is prepared for thanks to its beautifully sculpted exterior, elegant interior and capable power-train.
Launched in the UK just a couple of months ago the Maserati Levante starts from just £54,335 and in the crazy Italian’s own words provides ‘The ultimate combination of leading on-road performance and off-road capabilities’.
At a glance, and just like all of the Maserati range; the Levante will most certainly make you look twice. I feel it is the best looking SUV on the market and comes with a few signature traits from the stable which include quad exhausts, Maserati logo on the ¼ panel and the common wing vents.
On top of this is the rather large grill that appears throughout the range with the Levante grill coming with a shutter system that opens when the engine needs to be kept cool and closes to assist with the SUV’s drag coefficient and indeed does this perfectly with class leading figures.
Fully colour coded lower body panels are available at a cost of £765 whilst a panoramic roof can be added for £1200 whilst there are more options and packs available for the Levante than you could imagine, thus making sure that whatever you chose will make your Levante, YOUR’S…
Whilst on the subject of packs those available include two types of Sport pack, Luxury pack, Luxury Zegna pack, Metallic pack, Driver Assist pack, Driver Assist Plus pack, Easy Access pack, Premium pack and finally Cold Weather pack.
I won’t even try and pretend I know what is included within each of the aforementioned, however a quick visit to Charles Hurst Maserati’s new showroom on Belfast’s Boucher Road will soon enable a better understanding after a chat to the sales executives.
Inside the Levante is suitably plush and welcoming with a choice of finishing’s inside such as premium leather, Ermenegildo Zegna silk, carbon fibre and a few fine woods alongside audio upgrades from the likes of Bowers & Wilkins and Harmon Kardon.
Plenty of room is on offer throughout the cabin for even the largest of passengers to travel in comfort and the driving position is a pleasurable one with all the required switchgear around the dash well within reach and a signature analogue clock protruding from the top of the dash.
Luggage space is pretty impressive also via the electric open/close tailgate on the model we got to experience in the showroom whilst the reverse camera on the boot displays on the 8.4” screen built into the dash.
This infotainment system also offers USB and Aux input for the playback of music, film or images as well as Bluetooth connectivity for calls and streaming. Sat Nav and a front facing camera also feature via the touch screen which can also be controlled via the steering wheel or control knob on the centre console.
Engine wise the Levante comes with just one offering in the guise of the fantastic 3.0 V6 turbo diesel unit that we have road tested in the Ghibli recently providing 275bhp with 420lb.ft of torque enabling a 0-60mph time of just 6.7 seconds.
All this power is put to the ground via the only gearbox available which is an 8 speed automatic ‘box offering smooth and fast changes as one would expect whilst the intelligent Q4 all wheel drive system transfers the power to the road intelligently I guess.
Self levelling air suspension keeps the Levante very well grounded on the road mainly due to the skyhook suspension technology on board, but also thanks to its five preset heights, covering a total of 85mm of adjustment and a maximum ground clearance of 250mm.
At full height the Levante is most certainly ‘up there’ (see what I did there, I’ll grab my coat) with its rivals and indeed could take on some pretty tough terrain, something that I would like to try at some point in the future to see just how off-road capable the super stylish Italian really is.
50:50 weight distribution ensures the utmost of agility no matter where your Levante may take you and with four selectable drive modes on offer this SUV really offers the technology to cope with whatever is under foot.
Overall the Levante looks like a very capable and attractive package for those who want to stand out from the crowd and not conform to Joe next door but expect to pay something close to £70k for a Levnate with the right spec and options.
Words and Photos: Graham Curry