The long awaited Maserati 4 x 4 is set to go head to head with the Porsche Cayenne and the Range Rover Sport this summer.
SUV´s are now more popular than any other car type according to Carfinders.com and Maserati is looking to grab a share of the huge market with the newly revealed Levante.
It is designed to steal sales from models such as the Porsche and Range Rover and will be priced from about £55,000 (€69,000). The Levante is a key part of Maserati’s expansion plans to have global sales of 75,000 cars a year by 2018, with a sales goal like that it is crucial the 101 year old company´s SUV succeeds. In the UK the Levante is expected to double annual sales to about 3,000 cars.
The model was designed in Turin and follows face of traditional Maserati styling elements. First of all the Trident’s trademark face which includes a grille inspired by the Lafireri concept and a pair of air intakes in the lower fascia connected by a slim cut-out just below the grille. The fog lights sit below the headlights and are cut which is leading the way towards the front fenders with the creases in the hood to give it an aggressive look. The company released shadowy teaser images of the Levante front end prior to release and it’s needless to say that Maserati did a good job developing the exterior. The crisp look is accompanied by the best in class aerodynamic efficiency with a drag co efficient of 0.31. When the car was tested first hand in Turin, Levante’s slippery shape was aided by an active Air Shutter in the front grille, which is a first by Maserati!
On the test track, the deployment of this armoury of cornering controls is pretty impressive in the diesel, and aboard the 424bhp petrol V6 it is also a weapon of a car. For all versions, Maserati’s aim was to make the Levante easy to drive fast, unintimidating and viceless. And on a more demanding, longer test circuit at Balocco it’s all of these things and more.
The new Maserati is also impressively capable off-road with five suspension settings including two dedicated off-road models. The highest of these two settings lifts the ride height by 4cm to give suitable ground clearance. Back on the tarmac it´s good to see the Maserati traits in evidence on twisty roads where there’s plenty of poise and a fine balance that reflects the car’s 50:50 weight distribution.
Interior wise, the Levante also scores with plenty of room up front, a deep boot and easily folded seats. Rear comfort is reasonable despite limited foot room, while storage is average. The car includes app support, HomeLink and AHA functionality which is all run by an 8.4 inch touchscreen display. The technology does not stop there as it comes in the form of dual-zone climate control which includes a sensor that monitors exterior air quality and a sensor for interior humidity levels and four zone climate control with rear control is also available.
The Maserati Levante SUV all in all has an appealing exterior design, luxurious interior and what everyone wants to know…is exceedingly quick for a SUV. The plans in action will likely boost global sales for the Italian car manufacturer to never before seen figures. Porsche, Range Rover – you better watch out!