Maserati Levante Gains New Entry-Level V6 Petrol Engine
Maserati is renowned for making desirable Grand Tourers, oozing with Italian flair, style and craftsmanship. Able to cover vast distances, whilst passengers relax in opulent surroundings are the GT parameters.
The now familiar Quattroporte and Ghibli models are shining examples of all that Maserati do best and the discerning luxury car buyer will be sure to take a look.
With bold expansion plans, Maserati launched its first SUV back in 2016, the aim being for the new Levante to challenge the likes of the Range Rover Sport, BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne.
Die-hard Maserati fans may have been somewhat dismayed by this turn of events, but it is hard to argue with the rationale. The Levante is an imposing vehicle, with an especially striking front end dominated by the wide grille with Maserati’s trademark Trident logo.
A new state-of-the-art production line was set up in Turin and the best materials used. Extensive use is made of aluminium for strength and weight-saving, but at 2,205 kg the Levante is shall we say ‘substantial’.
In keeping with best sports car practice, Maserati has managed to perfect a 50:50 weight distribution and a low centre of gravity. Both pay dividends in terms of driving manners and body control.
An intelligent All-Wheel Drive system is fitted together with Maserati’s Stability Program to ensure excellent grip both on and off-road. Active air suspension features too, with six ride heights selectable depending on terrain and speed.
Initially launched with just a 275hp turbodiesel engine, a powerful (and pricy) 430hp V6 petrol engined model soon followed.
The diesel has remained the most popular and in the UK is responsible for around seventy per cent of overall sales. However with the world increasingly turning against diesel engines, Maserati has seen fit to introduce an entry-level V6 petrol-powered model, called simply Levante.
Priced at £61,425, just £3,000 more than the oil-burner, performance is anything but entry-level, with 350hp on tap. The on-paper figures state a 0 to 62mph sprint time of exactly six seconds and on the road this is entirely credible.
Harnessing the power is a sophisticated and smooth-changing eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox, controlled by a new lever. Along with the engine, it is assisted by clever software which recognises both the way the car is being driven and the road conditions and adjusts the gear-changing mode accordingly.
Economy is not a V6 Levante forte, the combined economy figure of 23.5mpg being vastly inferior to the diesel’s positively parsimonious 39.2mpg. I would suspect all but the very careful will struggle to break 20mpg. CO2 emissions are high at 278g/km, so no green awards here.
Up the spend to £69,425 and there is a choice of either GranLusso or GranSport models. Lusso majors on luxury and Sport…. you get the idea. The GranSport does boast an especially striking and bold front end, which may appeal.
As one would expect the Levante is fitted with all the latest safety features. Forward Collision Warning and Brake Assist systems will keep a careful watch, whilst Adaptive Cruise Control will take the strain out of congested motorway driving. Off the beaten track, the Hill Descent Control will ensure safe and steady progress no matter how slippery the terrain.
Maserati has clearly lavished plenty of attention on the Levante’s interior. High quality materials abound; soft leather for the comfortable seats, leather covering for the gear knob and multi-function steering wheel and there is the option to add wood or carbon fibre trim inserts for that bespoke look.
There’s space aplenty for four large adults to luxuriate, whilst the 580-litre boot should accommodate their chattels.
Standard equipment levels are suitably high but there is plenty of scope to add to the list price. Buyers of this class of car want the ability to create a bespoke vehicle and Maserati has a range of tailor-made options to suit.
As one would expect a high quality infotainment system is fitted to the Levante. The 8.4-inch touchscreen is pleasantly user-friendly and provides access to the radio, Bluetooth and satellite navigation system, along with connections to Apple Car Play etc.
The largely traffic-free roads of north east England provided the scenic backdrop for the day’s driving and once again I’m please to say that the car didn’t disappoint. Acceleration is brisk, without being startling but the reserves of torque provided ample power for the steepest of hills and for brisk overtaking manoeuvres.
Although a big car, the Levante proved easy to place on some of the narrower roads, aided no doubt by the commanding driving position.
The Levante boasts a firm ride, even in its most comfort-orientated suspension setting, the payback coming in the form of superb body control through the bends.
Maseratifirst attempt at an SUV can be judged a success and fitting this new engine is a sensible step. It manages to combine the luxury and exclusivity that its existing models offer with genuine go-anywhere capability. The Levante will look equally at home outside a fine country house caked in mud or doing the school run in a posh London suburb.
It offers a sporting drive but can play the role of Grand Tourer rather well. Just right for a winter trip to Courchevel for a spot of skiing or perhaps a blast down to the villa in Nice.
It is very easy to make a case for buying any of the Levante’s talented rivals previously mentioned. However, most are a common sight on our roads and any exclusivity they once had, disappeared a long time ago in the rush to own an SUV.
The Levante may be seen as a rather left-field choice, but not in my books and with the Christmas party season now in full swing, I would love to answer that hackneyed question, “what car do you drive?” with the answer, “a Maserati!”
Has rather a nice ring to it, don’t you think? But… and I whisper this, I’d take the diesel.
- Maserati Levante V6
- Price from £61,425
- 350hp V6 petrol engine
- 8-speed automatic gearbox
- All Wheel Drive
- 0-62mph in 6 seconds
- Top speed 156mph
- Combined economy 23.5mpg
- Emissions 278g/km CO2