What I didn’t expect was having fun at crawling speeds in a brace of Maserati Levante 4WDs. Yes, I’ve used the term 4WD here, Levante isn’t just a pretty on-road station wagon, it leans so much in the direction of capable SUV that I’ve granted it my personal top title of 4WD.
This Italian masterpiece tackled serious off-road use in the steeply sloping scrub of the hills behind SMSP’s infamous Turn Two with remarkable ease.
Drive is by a 202 kW V6 turbo-diesel that has a huge 600 Newton metres of torque. This is put to the ground through an eight-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels using Maserati’s Q4 intelligent all-wheel-drive with a rear limited-slip differential.
It has adjustable air springs, and Skyhook shock absorbers to ensure it is equally capable on and off the road as its siblings.
Staring at a steep dirt downslope we pushed the buttons to jack up on the suspension height, then engaged all the downhill electronic support systems.
The electronics kicked by way of the ABS braking system to lock or unlock individual wheels as required. We crept all the way down with never a whimper from the Maserati. Though I suspect a wife and young kids who had never experienced real off-road driving may have done a bit of whimpering…
There was even a stage when we didn’t approach a long, steep, dusty upslope with enough momentum and came to a standstill. The feeling was that we would have to reverse then come up again for a faster go. But no, we kept our foot in, the electronics gave as much traction as they could, creating some wheelspin, though not too much. After being stationary for about five seconds the Levante slowly began to move and slowly scrabbled its way to the top.
Okay, so I wouldn’t fancy the big Maserati’s chances on the Rubicon Trail – still my all-time favourite off-road adventure – but in real life family off-roading it’s just brilliant.
In case you want to test your Levante for yourself check the front bumper lip as that’s likely to be the area to suffer first.
So there you have it, Maserati Levante is a prestigious Italian sports machine that can cruise at 230 km/h where conditions permit – and also slog its way uphill and down at about half a km/h. Impressive…
Levante Turbo Diesel: $139,990
Levante Turbo Diesel GranSport: $159,990
Levante Turbo Diesel GranLusso: $159,990
Levante 3.0-litre 257 kW: $125,000
Levante GranSport 3.0-litre 257 kW: $159,990
Levante GranLusso 3.0-litre 257 kW: $159,990
Levante S 3.0-litre 321 kW: $179,990
Levante GranSport 3.0-litre 321 kW: $189,990
Levante GranLusso 3.0-litre 321 kW: $189,990
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Maserati dealer for drive-away prices.