Okay, I’m going to cut straight to the chase in answer the question I’ve been bombarded with, ”Does the new petrol Levante sound like a Maserati?”
Yes, it does! There’s something about the purposeful roar of this Maserati-designed Ferrari-built engine that makes all car lovers smile with joy.
When Maserati launched its Levante SUV in Australia in 2017 it came only with a diesel engine. At that time all petrol Levantes had the steering wheel on the wrong side for Australia. A silly mistake that has now been rectified.
So, now the Maserati Levante has a twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 with 430 horsepower (321 kW) and 580 Nm and we’ve just spent a brilliant week at the wheel.
Maserati Levante’s design has a very distinctive bold front headlined by the Trident badge in the centre. It has sleek sports-coupe like lines at the rear. The up-sweep of the glass at the waist as it meets the down-sweep at the top of the windows is smooth and easy.
The use of the traditional three slots on the front guards is continued into the Maserati SUV range.
The overall effect is excellent and gained favourable smiles and comment from many during our test week.
Levante GranLusso features Zegna silk upholstery and soft-close doors that pull themselves shut.
Personalisation is a major feature in this class and no one does it better than the Italians. You can choose from seven alloy wheel designs, five of which are new for 2018. Five interior trim choices, two steering wheels.
Even different colours for the brake calipers. Curiously, our European cousins see Yellow as being a sporting colour, whereas Aussies opt for Red. So our cars get red calipers. Ah, the vagaries of perception, and the need for a deep understanding of customer needs.
The luggage compartment holds 580 litres. Transporting tall bulky items may be difficult due to the sleek tail styling. A smart feature is that the push-button to close the tailgate is low down in the interior side panel, not in the tailgate itself where it can be hard to reach.
The traditional Maserati analog-look clock sits proudly at the top centre of the dashboard. It’s been imitated by many prestige, and some not really prestigious, but we still reckon the Italian original is the best.
There’s an 8.4-inch central touchscreen to access many vehicle and infotainment functions, including Apple Carplay, Android Auto and voice recognition. It’s simple and intuitive to use and is one of the clearest we’ve used.
The Maserati Stability Program (MSP) uses anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assistance System (BAS). Driver assist systems include lane-keeping assist, active blind-spot assist and traffic sign recognition.
Maserati Levante has a twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 with 430 horsepower (321 kW) and 580 Nm. It is a Maserati design, but built by Ferrari. It drives an eight-speed ZF automatic that powers through the Maserati Q4 Intelligent AWD system.
The front seats are comfortable but I found the driver’s doesn’t go back quite as far as I wanted, probably to make for good legroom behind it. The rear seats are set up for two, with a smaller third seat between them. Some may find headroom is restricted if a sunroof is fitted, but don’t forget that this has a sports-coupe rear end.
The instruments are large and clear and very definitely aimed at the driver.
Engine has too much turbo lag for my taste, the ZF auto is quick to recognise the driver’s need for added grunt by downshifting smartly.
Once the lag has gone and the right gear is engaged the big Maser really flies in a delightful fashion. It makes light work overtaking and hills almost cease to exist. This is a long distance cruiser ‘par excellence’ (or whatever that is in Italian!).
Air suspension provides different height levels for both on- and off-road situations. Driving modes can be selected on the central console. Cleverly you can go for full-on Sport on the drivetrain, but Comfort on the suspension. We used this combination for day-to-day driving and found it to be an excellent compromise.
High-speed sweeping bends are Levante’s forte with great feedback from the steering-wheel and seat of the pants. While tight twisty stuff is handled competently you really become aware you’re in the driving seat of over two tonnes of vehicle with a high centre of gravity.
There’s safe understeer if you really push hard, but backing off and unwinding a little lock promptly brings it back on line again.
The big brakes haul off speed hard and there’s never the slightest sense of the big Levante wavering off line.
Fuel consumption is high, typically around 13 to 17 litres per hundred kilometres around town, though it drops to nine to eleven litres on the motorway. But who cares about fuel? This is an exciting Italian sports machine and that’s what matters. (Or you could buy a diesel, but I wouldn’t.)
Maserati Levante sales have been brilliant in Australia to date and the introduction of a hot turbo-petrol engine is sure to instantly lift them.
Would we buy a Maserati Levante? Yes, but only if we needed a spacious back seat and plenty of luggage room. If not, give us a low slung Ghibli any time.
AT A GLANCE
Levante 3.0 diesel: $139,990
Levante 3.0 GranSport diesel: $159,990
Levante 3.0 GranLusso diesel: $159,990
Levante 3.0 S petrol: $169,990
Levante 3.0 S GranSport petrol: $179,990
Levante 3.0 S GranLusso petrol: $179,990
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Maserati dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Maserati Levante S GranLusso 3.0-litre five-door wagon)
Capacity: 2.979 litres
Configuration: V6 Twin Turbo
Maximum Power: 321 kW @ 5750 rpm
Maximum Torque: 580 Nm @ 5000 rpm
Fuel Type: Premium unleaded petrol
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 10.9 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 253 g/km
DRIVELINE: Eight-speed automatic
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 5003 mm
Wheelbase: 3004 mm
Width: 1968 mm
Height: 1679 mm
Turning Circle: 11.7 metres
Kerb Mass: 2019 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 80 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc
Three years / unlimited kilometres