Friday 25 November 2016
Maserati has been giving the public visions of an SUV with various concepts since the early 2000s. However, it’s finally taken the plunge, entering the ever-expanding SUV market with its all-new Levante. It’s ready to go into battle against some stiff competition, with the likes of the Range Rover Sport and Porsche Cayenne already firm favourites in the segment.
The Levante has slightly divisive styling. Some are a big fan of the way it looks, with the large haunches and aggressive grille appealing to those who like a confident-looking car. Others are less impressed. However, whichever side of the fence you sit on, it’s hard to deny that it’s a striking looking thing – with the narrowed looks and long bonnet giving it a huge amount of presence.
Inside, the interior is just as luxurious as you’d expect in a car costing in excess of £54,000. Even if you opt out of the extended leather pack, there’s a huge amount of high-quality materials used in the cabin.
Given the sheer size of the Levante – it weighs in at more than five metres in length – it’ll come as no surprise that there’s a lot of space inside. It’s six inches longer than a Range Rover Sport and just as wide, so there’s plenty of room in the cabin.
Boot space is also good at 580 litres, which is 91 litres bigger than the Range Rover’s 489-litre capacity.
Maserati claims that the Levante has been designed with handling in mind, which is why it benefits from 50/50 weight distribution and lightweight components that help it keep an extremely low centre of gravity – lower in fact than any of its rivals.
However, despite the mechanical differences you can’t escape the fact that the Levante is a five-metre-long, two-metre-wide four-wheel-drive. The steering has a great amount of weight to it, while the 3.0-litre V6 has plenty of punch but you can’t escape the car’s sheer weight. It doesn’t feel heavy, just a bit chunky.
If you’re looking for a comfortable long-distance cruiser however, you’ve come to the right place. The suspension is tuned to give just the right amount of feedback from the road, which makes it easy to place. It never crashes over bumps and potholes though, which makes the Levante comfortable no matter which road you’re on.
The seats are very well made too, and although Maserati hasn’t claimed to be at the forefront of in-car technology, there’s more than enough infotainment kit to keep passengers amused.
If you are planning on driving through the rough stuff, you can lift the Levante’s suspension and set the four-wheel-drive system to reduce its rearward bias and split the power more evenly. This gives it a good amount of capability on difficult terrain, though a real mud plugger it ain’t.
As standard, the Levante comes with a good amount of kit. There’s full leather upholstery, satellite navigation and air suspension as well as premium touches like a Harman Kardon sound system.
Of course, there are plenty of options to choose from. The most prominent of these is the Luxury pack, which adds a powered steering column, 360-degree parking camera and heated front seats. There’s also the Sport Pack, which provides aluminium gear shift paddles and 20-inch alloy wheels, among other elements.
Prices start from £54,335, which undercuts the equivalent 3.0-litre V6 diesel Range Rover by £5,000. Of course, it’s never quite that simple given the differences in specifications, but it does show that the Levante isn’t noticeably more expensive than its rivals.
The Levante is somewhat of a niche offering, especially given the prominence of its rivals like the Range Rover Sport and Porsche Cayenne. However, Maserati seems quite content with that. The Levante takes the place of a likeable, well-specified alternative to the segment leader – coming as a car that gives its owners a way of standing out from the crowd without forsaking luxury, performance or capability.
Model: Maserati Levante (Sport Pack)
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 diesel (271bhp)
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Performance: 0-60mph in 6.7 seconds, top speed 143mph
Economy: 39.2mpg (combined)
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