Qatar Today - - TEST DRIVE -

Levante, the SUV launched by Maserati ear­lier this year, made its Qatar de­but this month; and is all set to hit the Qatari mar­ket in June. The all­ter­rain ve­hi­cle's world pre­miere at the 2016 Geneva Mo­tor Show was said to be a land­mark de­vel­op­ment in the com­pany's his­tory. Levante is based on the evo­lu­tion of the sedan plat­form, de­signed ex­clu­sively by Maserati. The car chas­sis has been specif­i­cally de­vel­oped to of­fer unique on­road driv­abil­ity and com­pet­i­tive off-road ca­pa­bil­ity, with day-to-day com­fort and prac­ti­cal­ity. So, what does the launch of Maserati's first-ever SUV mean for the Ital­ian lux­ury ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­turer? In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with Qatar To­day, Um­berto Cini, the com­pany's Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor for Mid­dle East, Africa and In­dia, talks about the en­tire process be­hind the man­u­fac­tur­ing of the Levante.

“When I joined Maserati in 2004, we ini­ti­ated talks about the pos­si­bil­ity of hav­ing an SUV. It was at the end of 2003 that Maserati pre­sented to the world the first-ever SUV con­cept car called Kubang. But it was only a project and not in­tended for pro­duc­tion,” says Cini, ad­ding that though Maserati had been in the mar­ket for decades, it was the com­pany's merger with Fiat Chrysler Au­to­mo­biles that en­abled it to gain knowl­edge about the tech­nol­ogy and in­fra­struc­ture for de­sign­ing an SUV. Cini also said that the Levante project un­der­took a lot of de­sign amend­ments and me­chan­i­cal tests be­fore reach­ing the pro­duc­tion stage. “In terms of the cost in­curred, the FCA group in­vested ap­prox­i­mately 1 bil­lion

Um­berto Cini, Maserati’s Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor for Mid­dle East, Africa and In­dia (left) with Charly Dagher, Gen­eral Man­ager, Maserati Qatar at the launch of Levante.

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