This new SUV from Maserati is a big step for them, they need this to work out. Maserati want 75,000 sales each year and to do that they had to fill a gap in the market. The SUV gap that they haven't yet been involved in. No longer is that the case because teh Levante comes in with what seems to be a fine recipe.
The Maserati Levante is available with one engine here in the UK. A 3.0 V6 Diesel with 272bhp. Others get two petrol V6 units with 346bhp and 424bhp respectively. I think that it's a good decision for the UK. You only get one option but it's an option that is perfect out of all power plants for the UK. Well, not exactly. The mpg that the diesel gets is around 40. That's acceptable and if you're a safe and easy driver then that figure may be true but knowing that this is a Maserati and you'll want to push it, expect low 30s. The diesel V6 produces a very healthy 442lb/ft of torque which is very fine for those motorway overtaking moments. These moments really are moments, too. The 8 speed auto shifts very smoothly and the whole driving experience is a very nice one. It's a very nice way to travel, this Maserati.
I like the Levante's interior. It highlights precisely what Maserati is all about. Dynamic luxury. That's what I think anyway. It's also very Italian which I also like. It isn't conventional and all that slick. Nothing's all over the place, but it isn't simple like on a Porsche. It's set out in such a way that is dynamic rather than dull. I don't like all that red, though. Otherwise, things are well with the Levante's interior. It's practical too, the rear seats are a fine and comfortable place to be unless you're the adult in the middle. The boot is spacious too at 580 litres. This surpasses that of a Range Rover Sport but then the Maserati is trounced by the Porsche Cayenne (618 litres) and Jag F-Pace (650 litres). Still, 580 should be just enough for most families.
What's really good about the Levante is the dynamic drive. Being an SUV, this isn't a Maserati GranTurismo. It'll never be. It is, however, a beautiful example of good work done. The weight distribution is 50/50. Good. The car can send 90% of the power to the rear for more fun. Good. Feels like a hot hatch rather than a 2.2 tonne SUV. Good. The Levante has some clever engineering behind it and they certainly weren't lazy about it. They didn't just borrow a 4x4 chassis from Jeep and stick a pretty body onto it. They created their own and I think that this was the great key to unlocking the true potential of a Maserati SUV. The gearbox of this thing is a very good one, too. This 8 speed rev-matches on downshifts to give smooth deceleration and shifts gears very quickly and exactly how you'd expect. It feels solid and planted on the road, the Levante. With its smooth and well judged steering and a suspension system that lets you feel what the wheels are doing this car certainly knows what its doing in the dynamic department. The Levante isn’t as good to drive as a Porsche Cayenne but it resists body lean well and feels agile for such a big car. Again, very hot-hatch like.
I won't drone about the offroadability of this car because most owners will never touch harsh terrain but to briefly go over things, here's a summary. Off-road the Levante is just as fine as it is on tarmac. Of the five suspension settings you can choose from, two are for off-roading. In the most rugged setting, the ride height is raised by 40mm to avoid any unwanted scratches. Hill descent is also included and the four-wheel-drive system puts the Levante through what can only be described as a ballet rather than a disaster when it comes to going onto the dirty stuff.
The Maserati Levante is a very good car. When you're behind the wheel, it feels agile and planted, giving great feel through the suspension and road. It's a shame then that the diesel engine spoils something about the chassis that just isn't quite rihjt. Rumours say that Maserati are going to put the twin turbo V8 from the Quattroporte into the Levante and that will unquestionably sort things out but then, due to running costs, the V8 option would end up becoming a niche. A bit like a Range Rover V8 Petrol. The Maserati is a fine companion. It'll excite you when you need it to and will relax you in its ICE (Increased Control and Efficiency ) mode if that's what you want. Well done Maserati.