Few carmakers can vaunt of their creations taking pride of place on bedroom walls of teenagers, the world over. From handmade one offs to some of the most stunning GT cars ever made, Maserati is synonymous with exuberance and sublime design. Since its humble beginnings in Bologna in the early 20th century, the carmaker has always enjoyed reverence from hardcore enthusiasts even though it never did receive the same mainstream success as its other Italian cousins. However, over the last couple of years, that’s rapidly changed.
Like its European peers, the carmaker has entered the lucrative, “luxurious and sporty” SUV market with the new Maserati Levante. Jaguar, Porsche and even Bentley have found this space quite profitable and Maserati hopes to replicate that success. The carmaker has trained its sights squarely on the Porsche Cayenne
to claim the throne of the sportiest SUV around and on paper it looks like it sure can deliver.
The carmaker has a history of naming its cars after some of the world’s most famous winds. It started in 1963 with the legendary Mistral followed by Ghibli, the Bora and the Khamsin. And now they are building on the same idea.
A name inspired by the Mediterranean wind, which turns from a breeze to a gale, rather quickly.
While the brand isn’t as familiar to us Indians as its European rivals, what may work for the Levante is that it looks absolutely fetching. The Levante plainly isn’t just another big 4x4—it’s a downright work of art. Spawned from the stunning Maserati Alfieri concept car, it defies what a conventional ‘SUV design handbook’ would command. Unlike its square-edged peers, the Levante’s crisp lines do well to hide the bulk.
The first thing you’d notice is a coupe like curved roofline, typically Maserati-like long bonnet and strong rear haunches that makes the bodywork akin to an athlete in a well-tailored suit. Head on, the Levante proudly wears its Trident on a sleek grill. And if you look closely, you’d see glimpses of the Ferrari GTC4Lusso in the silhouette. After all, it’s made by the FCA group that owns some of the most iconic brands such as Alpha Romeo and of course, Ferrari.
You can buy the Maserati Levante in two flavours. The GranLusso, which focuses on luxury with exotic materials that have been used in its interior trim. If sporty is what you want, get the GranSport, the aesthetic revolves around a sporty material like carbon fibre that is generously smattered around the cabin.
Inside, the Levante is built around a driver interface that looks elegant and uncluttered. The instrument cluster features large analogue gauges for the tachometer and speedometer, alongside a 7” TFT display. Major dynamic functions are incorporated into the buttons alongside the gearshift, while other on-board settings can be set using the Maserati Touch Control Plus (MTC+) infotainment system at the centre of the dashboard, or the steering wheel controls for the 7” TFT display.
As you’d expect, it’s packed to the gills with equipment. The Levante features voice commands, satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for seamless integration of text and music with your phone. Speaking of music, it is fitted with a 280-watt, eight-speaker package as standard. You can, however, move up to one of the two options designed for true audiophiles—the 14-speaker Harman Kardon Premium Sound system and the 17-speaker Bowers & Wilkins Surround Sound system.
Under the skin, the Levante sports typical Maserati DNA. The Levante’s platform is shared with the Quattroporte and Ghibli saloons. Despite being an SUV, the engineers have ensured that none of the brand’s sporty heritage is compromised. In simple terms that means, the Levante’s body has been designed to effortlessly cut through the air, hence significantly reducing drag.
Additionally, to ensure it drives more like a sports car than an SUV, it also boasts of one of the lowest centre of gravity of any production car. To keep it lightweight and aid agility, the Levante’s bodywork, suspension and chassis are all made from aluminium alloys. All these design elements come together to deliver a properly sporty SUV.
Furthermore, the Levante is equipped with air suspension that as expected at this price point, is height adjustable. There’s also an eight-speed automatic gearbox that’s matted to a sophisticated, computer controlled four-wheel-drive system that ensures the Levante has a fair bit of substance behind all that style.
In international markets, the Maserati Levante employs engines that are built in Ferrari’s facility in Maranello. And as expected, the specifications are top notch.
A range of engines gives you the choice to pick between fuel type and the amount of power. You can choose between turbocharged V6 petrol and diesel engines. The Levante Diesel employs a 271bhp, 443lb ft VM Motori 3.0-litre V6. It’s the same motor that is used to power the Quattroporte and Ghibli. The Levante S is fitted with a twin-turbo, 3.0-litre petrol motor that makes a hefty 424bhp resulting in a 0-100kph time in a blistering 5.2 seconds.
Now, in India, there’s just the 271bhp diesel engine on offer. The carmaker may add the petrol options later.
Priced at Rs 1.45 crore (ex-showroom), the Maserati Levante is quite expensive. Popular options at this price point are a Porsche Cayenne and a Range Rover. While both these options are very competent SUVs, what the Maserati has going for it, is exclusivity. It’s not every day you see a Trident on the front grill!