Maserati Levante is the first ever SUV, and it seemed to attract the type of buyer who is tempted by the Porsche Cayenne and BMW X6. We had driven in the UK to see if it worked.
Auto Trader Verdict:
Given this is the company’s first bash at building an SUV, the Levante is a very decent effort, and there’s lots to like about it. Even if it’s not the very best car in its class, it’s good enough that the air of exclusivity that surrounds it may well be enough to tempt buyers to sign up.
Need to know:
- Maserati’s first ever SUV
- Available only with a 3.0-litre diesel engine in the UK
- On sale now, with prices from £54,335
Maserati Levante is the first ever SUV, and his arrival completed the line-up a model company in the UK, in addition to the saloons Ghibli and Quattroporte, Granturismo coupe and GranCabrio convertible. In common with them, this new SUV is very much a 'premium' products which sits at the top end of the market, with low amounts of which will be sold ensure exclusivity to the buyer.
That said, Levante may not be as expensive as you might think at first glance. Prices start at less than £ 55,000, and even if you add either the Sport or fancy package - which many buyers are expected - your bill will not come to more than £ 60,000. The pitches were distinctly Italian Maserati against some high quality German cars, such as the BMW X5 and X6 and Porsche Cayenne, not to mention the new Jaguar F-Pace.
For the money, you get the SUV looks smart with a turbodiesel V6 3.0-liter and a lot of standard equipment - including air suspension, climate control, dual-zone, sat-nav and infotainment system touch-screen-controlled - and plenty of space for owners to personalize their cars with a variety of optional wheels, interior details and materials.
Despite strong engine Levante - which gives the car a 0-62mph time of less than seven seconds - Maserati is keen to stress this is not a sports car. Instead, the company said the Grand Tourer, so it is appropriate that our first experience of the car comes in models equipped with the optional (£ 5950) Luxury Pack, including power-adjustable steering column, heated front seats and a fine grain leather upholstery.
From the word go, it was very obvious very much Maserati Levante. There is a thick vertical slats on the grille, chrome-trimmed three holes on the front wing, and the famous trident badge just behind the rear side window. And, as the final piece in the puzzle, the dashboard ends with the trademark Maserati analog clock.
Overall, the first impression when you ride on-board is of a very high quality interior (especially so when fitted with Luxury Pack). There is a fine blend of ingredients, with lots of wood and leather in the event, and if the brief experience of the car is anything to go by, it's all very well built, too.
No complaints about how much space there, either. And thanks to the Easy Sign on our test car, which dropped the car air suspension when it is parked, it was nice and easy to climb aboard.
Unfortunately, it was not quite as good news in the back. For a start, there is quite a high threshold to climb to get in, and if the front seats pushed well back (six-footer at the wheel, for example), there is not much gap to squeeze your feet into, while legroom is also more limited than in some of its competitors. At least headroom is better than you would expect in a car with a coupe-like profile. 580 liter boot similar to what you would find in the BMW X6, though not as much in the Jaguar F-Pace or Porsche Cayenne.
Worse (although we must issue a strong warning here, because we drove the car only briefly and in the face of beatings right from Hurricane Angus), also did not provide the same level of driver enjoyment as Jag or Porsche. Do not get us wrong, Levante still a very good car to drive, but it just felt a little short of sporty and engagement you expect from Maserati.
It does not feel as fast as vital statistics suggest. The problem starts with the engine and eight-speed automatic gearbox, which is quite slow to respond, especially in normal mode and when accelerating away from low speeds.
Things get sharper when you put the car in Sport mode, but it is also firm up the suspension, which made the trip usually worth a little uncomfortable.
Once you're up and running, Levante proven itself very rapidly across the country, and more than able to take advantage of every opportunity to overtake coming your way. It also feels very solid and stable, which is very welcome, considering the amount of water and foliage on the roads of our test drive.
Overall, it was a car that is balanced, which is not surprising, given that Maserati has a reputation to turn out great-handling, a sporty car. Also, four wheel drive system Levante has been arranged with a bias to the rear wheels under normal conditions - just set-up found in many of the best sports cars in the world, and just the thing to inspire confidence in his driver.
The problem is, that the degree of sure-footedness comes at the expense of fielding feel you get in, say, Cayenne or F-Pace. They rival feel lighter on their feet, but drivers are always aware Levante weight of the car as it navigates a series of bends.
Then again, as a Grand Tourer that Maserati claims it is, Levante is a good choice. At faster, sweeping the road, taken at a decent speed, you get all the response you want from the engine and gearbox, while repairs were excellent (well, as far as we could tell in gale!) And the ride is quite comfortable most of the time, as long as you avoid the Sport mode.
Levante has some real strengths, but close - than - top of its class for driving pleasure.
We have not really fall in love with Levante, although we will be happy to admit it has some real strengths. If you play to those strengths, Levante will delight you with its ability to cover long distances in comfort, while operating costs are competitive with its rivals'.
For all that, though, perhaps the biggest factor that will lure buyers into showrooms Maserati SUV, rather than a BMW or Porsche, is a guarantee of exclusivity car. And, in a world filled with SUVs - even at this price - it is a commodity that is very interesting.
- Model: Maserati Levante with Luxury Pack
- Price: £ 60 285
- Engine: 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel
- Power / torque: 241bhp / 442lb / ft
- 0-62mph: 6.9secs
- Top Speed: 142mph
- Economy: 39.2mpg
- CO2 / BIK tax liability: 189g / km / 37%
- Boot space: 580 liters