The wait is over – after Maserati unveiled the Kubang Concept in 2011, the company confirmed that it is working on the Maserati of SUVs and days before the official debut at Geneva Motor Show, the company took the wraps off from its highly awaited SUV. A look at the SUV and it is evident that tailoring the Maserati design language for the SUV silhouette was not an easy task – and even though it took five years, the designers did come up with an SUV that is unmistakable Maserati.
The name Levante is taken from a Mediterranean wind and is chosen as a tribute to the sporty nature of the SUV – a blend of Italian passion, Maserati’s engineering prowess and the exclusivity that comes with the brand heritage. Rest assured – this is an SUV built like any other Maserati and has perfect proportions and will have a soundtrack to match the performance, on road and off the road.
Viewed head on, the familiar Maserati grill is imposing as ever and wears the Maserati trident with proud. There is a slim channel below the grill, which joins the air intakes that are placed low on both sides of the grill. The headlights are tapered and the top part of the headlight joins the grill and gives the face an aggressive air. The fog lights sit between the headlights and the air intakes. The bonnet has a prominent power bulge, which adds to the character.
The side profile of the Levante has the traditional porthole shaped air intakes and the Maserati ‘Saetta’ logo on the C pillar – the signature design stroke of any Maserati. The windows are frameless and the chrome accents give the car a richer look. The roof line tapers and mimics a coupe and the tapered rear is complimented by the rear fenders that bulge out to give more balance to the design. The rear spots wraparound tapered tail lights and an integrated roof mounted spoiler. Quad exhausts flank what appears to be an underbody protector. The lines are more curvaceous and suit the design language well.
Under the hood
Levante features an advanced chassis that will offer an excellent balance between on-the-road and off-the-road performance and offers unparalleled handling and excellent grip on challenging surfaces on-the-road and off-the-road. All versions of the Levante will have electronic suspension with air springs and controlled damping with multiple adjustable modes. The Q4 intelligent all-wheel drive will be standard on all Levante models.
While there is no clear cut information for the horse's mouth about the engines to be used (other than the fact that Euro 6 compliant petrol and diesel engines will be available, coupled with specially calibrated 8-speed automatic transmission), it is safe to assume that the twin turbo 3.0-Liter V6 petrol and diesel engines (the petrol with two state of tunes and diesel with two or three different state of tunes) and the range topping V8 (borrowed from Quattroporte) will be available.
The V6 petrol motor will churn out 345bhp and 445bhp in two tunes, while the diesel will be churning out power from 245bhp to 345bhp, depending on the tune. The range topping V8 will has 530bhp or thereabouts. All these engines will be mated to a specially calibrated 8-speed automatic gearbox.
It is hard not to sit up and take notice of the burgeoning luxury SUV market and all the luxury car manufactures worth their salt are trying their hands on getting a pie of the market. Of late, Bentley, Jaguar, Rolls Royce and Lamborghini have joined this bandwagon, though the move did ruffle few feathers of the traditional customers. While the entry from Maserati will not be viewed favorably by the competition, it will help Maserati attract new clientele and will help them retain the existing customers who are looking for the Luxury SUV experience.
Maserati is betting high on Levante and it is expecting the fifth offering from Maserati that will top the sales chart and will contribute a lot to reach the projected sales volumes for the year 2018.
The Levante will not be cheap – after all, it is the Maserati SUV. The Ghibli is priced from $69,000, so it is fair to assume that the Levante will command a premium over this pricing and that pegs the starting price at around $75,000. The SUV that has been unveiled at the Geneva auto show in March 2016 will hit the showrooms by 2017.