We recently covered Bowkers Maserati launch of the Italian marques very first SUV, the Levante and they kindly invited Enzari back to take one for a road test, so of course we said ‘yes please!’
‘It doesn’t look that big’ is my first thought when approaching the new Maserati Levante, I’d heard comments from certain corners that you have to approach it with caution but as you take in the design and shape of the car from the back and then round to the front, why caution? Well it’s the grille in the front of this car, the face that will be seen coming at you around Cheshire or Chelsea looks like it will eat anything in its way, someone even muttered ‘reminds me of jaws from James Bond’, so as I walk round to the front and stand face to face with this 3litre V6 SUV I’m perplexed, scary? No, purposeful springs to mind, the Maserati grille sitting proud, stylish headlights either side to guide the way, it sits proud, like it’s waiting patiently for whatever roads may lay ahead. Personally I think it looks damn good.
This is a big car for Maserati, not in size but in what it’s to achieve, their first SUV, it has some tough competition out there and it can’t afford to fail, the success of the new Levante will pave the way for the next generation models from the Italian carmaker. With rumours of hybrid cars only 3 years away, Maserati knows the importance of its new SUV to help top up the coffers so it can invest and build new exciting cars for the next decade. Indeed from what we hear, the Levante may be the first Maserati to bear a hybrid engine within the next couple of years.
Certainly before climbing onboard this new SUV, the looks are good, it has an elegant side profile to it, from the front through to its sweeping back, it’s very well sculpted, almost reminding me of the side profile of an athlete on the starting block, hunched down ready to go. It’s fair to say that Maserati have engineered the proportions to extend the height of the car, and emphasise the dynamic and fast nature of the new model. With four-wheel drive and a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 engine coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission, we hope it goes as well as it looks.
As you start the car up and it is very car like, hunkered down lower than many SUV’s the engine rumbles into life, hidden under the bonnet and behind that ‘love it or hate it’ grille, with 271bhp, it’s good for a 6.9-second sprint while also returning 39.2mpg, pretty impressive for any car, even more so for an SUV weighing over 2 tonnes. Inside the cabin as you’d expect from a prestigious car, it’s a seriously classy place to be, leather covers almost everything, driving position is good and as you look around it just doesn’t feel that big, you really could be driving a Ghibli, aside from the ride height might give it away your not.
The Levante boasts a rigid chassis and a low centre of gravity with 50/50 weight distribution. This all contributes to improved balance and agility at speed, ensuring the car performs just as well while accelerating round corners as straights. Driving on various roads, dual carriageways and main A roads, throw in a few twisty roads the SUV will feel controlled and unruffled despite its size. Most owners will cruise round in auto mode, but should you find yourself on a little back road it’s worth engaging manual mode and using the beautifully crafted aluminium paddleshift to make the engine roar as you accelerate out of a corner, roar it will, almost like therse a mad animal trying to escape from under the bonnet.
To say the Levante ticks all the right boxes for an SUV in this segment is doing it an injustice, with Porsche’s Cayenne it’s main competition and maybe the recently launched Jaguar F-Pace, the Maserati brings a very strong case to the road, certainly it’s the better looking, to drive it’s less fidgety than the Porsche and more Jaguar than a Jaguar. We haven’t driven it off road but lets be honest it not really going to see much of the green stuff. If your in the market for an SUV then yes with a starting price of £45k (although this can spiral up to almost £80k) the Levante is top of the class and it’s the right SUV to choose but as I leave Bowkers Maserati I take in a black Ghibli 3.0D parked out front and can’t help wonder, maybe that’s all the car you need?