- Published On: 16 October 2017
- 4 min read
We drive the luxurious Maserati Levante to see if the SUV can match rivals like the Mercedes-Benz GLS and Audi Q7.
On the outside
This car is called the ‘Levante’, which is the name of a Mediterranean wind that can turn into a gale in an instant. And from behind the wheel, the car almost feels like this – which is probably what Maserati was intending.
For a five-seat SUV, it’s absolutely enormous – a large percentage of which is thanks to the huge bonnet. The car feels enormous from behind the wheel too. The driver seat is snug, sporty and if you lower your seat position, it almost feels like you’re driving a conventional Maserati.
Even on the car’s medium setting, which tweaks the air suspension, it sits high off the ground. The wheels are huge and the tyres are chunky, and there’s a monstrous grille at the front.
On the inside
On the inside, there’s a familiar Maserati cabin. Red leather that’s soft and supple. The headrests have the logo stitched onto them, and it almost feels like you’re sitting in expensive lounge furniture. There’s ‘piano black’ wood trim and fit and finish is the best we’ve sampled in a Maserati yet. You will also like the back seat. Entry and exit isn’t the easiest but once you’re inside, you’re cocooned in that lovely leather.
This interior is more user-friendly - the controls are intuitive and logical. All the buttons are intuitive and exactly where you expect them to be. There’s even a click-wheel controller if you don’t want to use the touchscreen and it works great! The 8.4-inch touchscreen is a huge improvement too – sure it’s not as slick or as feature-packed as the BMW iDrive or Audi’s MMI, but this latest FCA unit has just about everything you need. There is navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and 360-degree cameras. You can pick from different options of wood trim and leather grain, including a silk-based option from design house Ermenegildo Zegna. There are three levels of hi-fi audio system with a 17-speaker affair from Bowers & Wilkins also available.
Behind the wheel
This car’s standard ground clearance is 207mm and can be raised to 247mm for off-roading and lowered to 162mm for easier loading. Ride quality is typical of a large, air-sprung car and while it tends to be a bit floaty – easily fixed though by switching to Sport damper mode.
The Levante makes a solid 275hp and 600Nm motor, and despite having to push its near 2.2-tonne weight, performance is great. The car takes 6.85sec from 0-100kph is not bad at any rate. And you’re going to enjoy the soundtrack – it sounds like a bona fide sportscar!
This car has all the Maserati traits. The cabin is plush, the engine is a great performer and it’s a car that’s built more for your heart. Also, for the first time, this is a Maserati that you can genuinely drive around on our potholed roads.