Can the Levante SUV save Maserati? CAR+ April 2016

Published: 14 March 2016

► We take a look at the Maserati Levante
► First showcased in 2011, it goes on sale spring
► Prices expected to hover around £53k mark

It’s not a sports car, yet this is the most significant new Maserati in years. The Levante, Maser’s first SUV, is the car tasked with safeguarding the 101-year-old firm’s future, with some serious heavy lifting to do on the worldwide sales front. No pressure, then. 

On sale in the spring, the Levante will offer a mix of Ghibli and Quattroporte-sourced petrol and diesel power together with standard all-wheel drive, air suspension with adaptive dampers and an eight-speed auto gearbox. The Levante will launch with a 3.0-litre V6 diesel, capable of pushing the Levante to 140mph+ and 39.2mpg. It’s understood that a fiery V8 petrol unit borrowed from the Quattroporte could later top the range.

Engineers claim the Levante has the slipperiest drag coefficient in its class, at 0.31. The body is suspended by five-link double wishbones, while weight distribution is a balanced 50:50. 

Maserati is on a mission to expand global sales to more than 70,000 cars a year by 2018. According to Maserati chief Harald Wester, SUV sales now account for half of the luxury market the marque calls home and it’s hoped the Levante will double UK sales to around 3000 cars a year. Far from a car Maserati shouldn’t build, it’s a car it could no longer afford not to. 

The first Levante production cars are already rolling off the Mirafiori line in Turin, reaching European showrooms in spring and the rest of the world later in the year. Expect prices in line with the Porsche Cayenne and Range Rover Sport, starting from around £53k.

Breakdown

Rakish good looks: Tiny, sloping rear window helps the Levante look more like a sports car. There’s plenty of space inside: the Levante measures a whopping 5m long.

Definitely not a jeep: Maserati CEO Harald Wester proudly claims Levante is ‘100% Maserati’. Styling certainly is, with a trio of gills on the flanks, arcing feature lines over the rear haunches and prominent ‘Saetta’ logos on the C-pillars.

Sound foundations: Squint and you’ll see 2011’s Kubang concept, but that had to fit around the hard points of the Grand Cherokee – since abandoned for a modified version of the Ghibli/Quattroporte’s floorpan.

Read more from the April 2016 issue of CAR magazine

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, automotive design graduate, Radical champ

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