If you are a connoisseur of the finer things in life then you most likely have some affection for Italian culture. Be it food, fashion, architecture or cars, the Italians just seem to do it in a more stylish way than others; case in point the Maserati Levante. Named after a wind that blows across the Mediterranean Sea, this SUV will certainly lift you up to a new height in motoring distinction.
The Levante GranSport I recently drove was clothed in elegant attire with not one, but two optional Nerissmo Packs ($15,529 in total). Essentially all of the exterior chrome was replaced with gloss black and the wheels were gloss black as well. This look partnered with the Pieno Fiore leather interior ($14,142 option) and red brake calipers, meant my Levante looked and felt very special indeed.
The GranSport is powered by the base model 3-litre V6, twin turbocharged engine which has been designed by Maserati and built in Ferrari’s Maranello plant. The engine produces 257kW and 500Nm of torque; it does suffer from a bit of turbo lag, but once they spin up the acceleration is decent and can propel the 2.1 tonne SUV from 0-100km/h in 6 seconds. The official combined fuel consumption is 11.1-11.3 litres/100 km and for my weekend with the Levante I averaged 15 litres/100km.
The ride comfort in the Levante GranSport was exceptional thanks to the trick suspension system fitted to the SUV. It continuously adapts shock absorber damping to suit the situation and whether I was in Normal or Sport mode the bumps in the road were effortlessly absorbed. The Levante also features advanced active air suspension that rises for off-road driving or lowers at higher speeds automatically. You can also use it to lower the SUV when it is parked to make it easier to get in and out off. I really liked the low stance of the Levante; I felt it added to the overall presence of the SUV in a positive way.
In Sport mode the handling parameters of the Levante are sharpened up and the exhaust is louder. At idle in Sport mode the exhaust noise is chunky and under hard acceleration and manually changing gears in the eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox there was an enjoyable bark as I upshifted. But at higher speeds the exhaust resonates too much in the cabin, which disturbs the otherwise quietness you experience when driving the Levante.
The cabin is an all-round indulgent experience, with the stunning Alcantara roof liner ($4,714 option) combined with soft, sweet smelling leather seats and leather extending across the dash and on the doors. In GranSport trim the front seats have a real luxury feel, thanks to the intricate stitching, combined with 12-way power adjustment and two memory positions for the driver. The front seats are also heated and cooled, the optional ($2,263) cooling works OK and the heating is very good. I also loved the optional ($1,106) trident stitched on each of the seat head rests.
The steering wheel has an elegant design with buttons that are easy to determine what each one does. There is also only one stalk on the steering column on the left hand side with the wipers and indicators both operated from here. The brushed chrome column mounted gearshift paddles are delight to use and when I pulled them on hard downshifts the gear box was pretty compliant.
The voice control works quite well for entering an address and making phone calls. One thing I noticed was the voice control button had a silhouette of a man’s face, I noted this down, but then when I stepped into the Mazda immediately after I drove the Maserati I saw the same silhouette used here as well. And this got me thinking about how many other cars that have I driven with this symbol for the voice control and maybe I have not noticed it before?
The dash design in the Levante is a blend between old and new, with the beautiful analogue clock taking pride of place at the top of the dash with the 8.4” Maserati Touch Control Plus screen neatly placed below it. Maserati have deliberately designed the dash with very few buttons to keep the look clean and functional. You get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard and your music selection from the DAB, aha, AM/FM radio, USB, AUX, Bluetooth or SD card can be enjoyed via the 14-speaker Harman Kardon Premium Sound system. The driver’s display is also a blend of an analogue speedo and tacho with a digital display in the centre.
Under the arm rest there is a deep storage cubby with two cup holders that can be heated or cooled from the air conditioning system. This does not have a temperature control, but it can be turned on and off as needed. There are two additional cup holders in the centre console, with a cigarette lighter as well, and at the front there is a deepish storage cubby for your smart phone with one SD card slot, one USB port and one AUX inlet.
The rear seats in the Levante are contoured and are very nice to sit in. There is just enough leg room for adults and increased head room is aided thanks to the scallop in the roof. There are two ISOFIX/three rear tether child seat restraint points, but like most cars there is only enough room for two in the back. The centre seat folds down and has two drink holders and the door cubby storage is shallow, but would also fit another drink bottle. Behind the centre console there are air vents with an on/off speed control function only, with one 12V outlet and two USB ports.
The tailgate of the Levante has electric open and close, which isn’t unusual, but what makes the Levante’s just a bit better than others is the button to close the tail gate is located down low on the left hand side of the boot so that children can reach it to close the boot if needed.
The boot is large enough for a pram and the weekly shop and comes with four tie down points, two hooks and a 12V outlet. The rear seats have a 60/40 split fold mechanism and there is a ‘peek a boo’ door as my children like to call them behind the centre seat so you can open it and fit longer items into the boot. Under the boot floor you will not find a spare tyre, but rather a tyre repair kit and a small amount of additional storage. Showing some more thought here there is a strap that holds up the boot floor so that you can access this area without balancing the floor on your head while you do so.
The Levante has an intelligent all-wheel drive system that Maserati calls Q4 and in normal driving conditions the SUV is 100% driven by the rear wheels. But if the system detects a loss of traction it can split the torque to be 50:50 between the front and rear wheels. When I pushed a little harder through some corners in damp conditions I felt there was some understeer present, but in a straight line traction was easily maintained.
Active safety features on the Levante GranSport include adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, active blind spot assist, rear cross traffic warning, forward collision warning and traffic sign assist, which wasn’t all that good. The 360o camera comes with front and rear sensors and you can select your camera view on the right hand side of the touch screen. The Maserati Levante is equipped with six air bags; two front air bags, both dual-stage, two side bags located in the front seats and two window air bags fitted in the roof lining next to the central pillar. The Levante model range does not have a Euro NCAP or ANCAP safety rating.
All new Maserati models come with a three year unlimited kilometre warranty with 24 hour road side assistance included. This warranty can be increased if an owner purchases the extended warranty package or you may find some models currently on sale that include a five year warranty period in the purchase price. Maserati Australia only does pre-purchase service packages for the Ghibli and Quattroporte models.
Its low stance, menacing grill and gorgeous interior make the Maserati Levante GranSport one very striking SUV and it’s just what you would expect from an Italian car manufacturer. Prices for the Maserati Levante model range start at $125,000 and the base MY19 350HP Levante GranSport I drove starts at $144,990 and as tested my attractive SUV was $196,623.92 plus on road costs. Visit your preferred Maserati dealer for more information on their current offers.
|Elegant interior and exterior styling||Limited head and leg room in the rear seats for taller passengers|
|Comfortable ride quality||No separate climate control for rear passengers|
|A pleasant blend of tradition and modernity||Poor traffic sign assist technology|
Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.