Cooking at 350
Maserati Levante 350 Review experience in Australia
Maserati Levante 350 review experience Australia
350 degrees is the sweet spot in cooking. It's the level that's associated with the Maillard Reaction, essentially the chemical process that gives a multitude of foods a complex flavour and texture profile and the attractive golden colour produced when sugar and protein are heated together. In cooking, 350 degrees is classed as a moderate temperature, hot enough to produce delicious meals but not enough to burn the dish it comes in. In Maserati terms, however, 350 means something quite different but equally as tasty.
350 is the affectionate yet factual moniker that's been assigned to the new Maserati Levante. Simply put, it highlights the horsepower that lies beneath the bulge in the SUV’s bonnet, but unless this also bears relevance to your heartbeat, it doesn’t begin to describe the feelings that this new Levante produces.
Launched in 2016 with a strong and responsive 3L diesel heart and then followed by the petrol S version around twelve months later, the Levante has unequivocally been Maserati's most successful model to date and since it oozes pure Italian style and has been developed for one of the biggest segments in the automotive market, why wouldn't it be! For the brand, the two existing Levantes sit neatly with just enough popularity to be noticed, while still retaining Maserati’s overriding air of exclusivity. Now, the 350 has been introduced to further spice things up.
To showcase this new model’s arrival, Maserati had devised a drive route from Sydney to Melbourne and offered up different sections to join in the fun, I opted for the Bathurst to Canberra run which included the track (albeit at road restriction speeds) and some impressive country tarmac. Here’s how it went.
Beginning trackside and peering under the hood, the Levante 350 features a Maserati designed, 3L two twin-scroll turbocharged V6 engine that has been manufactured by Ferrari in Maranello. It produces 257kW of power and 500Nm of torque and will move the SUV from 0-100kph in around the 6 seconds mark with a top speed comes in at 251kph. CO2’s have been reduced a little and efficiency is slightly up but more importantly (to me), the Levante 350 feels like a Maserati should.
In terms of specification, nothing has changed. It still comes in 3 variants (base, GranLusso and GranSport), it still comes dripping in finely crafted materials, still has adaptive air suspension and still remains strictly Italian.
Following the painful (due to low speed) yet interesting (due to driving counterclockwise) track experience, we headed for the hills and off towards Canberra, joined along for the ride by the rain - damn. Unperturbed, the Levante with its four-wheel drive system simply embraced the twisting turns of sodden Australian asphalt, letting us explore the upper rev range of the new powerplant and of course, the stupendous tone that came with it.
The cavalcade of four Maserati’s whizzed through the mountains, hugging the bends and roaring at the straights an experience enhanced by the demands of the film crew in tow, making us re-do certain fun parts over and over.
As we neared Canberra and the pace receded, it gave me more of a chance to push buttons and explore the well-equipped cabin. The infotainment touchscreen that sits boldly in the centre of the dashboard offers access to great sounds and even greater driving aids. The Levante will raise and lower, park itself, alert to lane departures, assist your braking requirements, I think you get the point, this is not a stripped back model - with that, we arrived at our destination, the Hyatt.
Just as with creating the perfect dish, the Maserati 350 hits that sweet spot of emotive driving and being one of the most accessible vehicles that Maserati has ever produced, plus did I mention that delicious exhaust note? The Levante 350 is certainly a tasty treat to add to the Levante menu.