We scru­ti­nise the very first SUV from Ital­ian pre­mium brand Maserati

Car (South Africa) - - TEST -

R1 650 000 202 kw/600 N.m 230 km/h

ASERATI. The mere men­tion of the name con­jures up images of sun-kissed Ital­ian beaches stud­ded with fash­ion­able so­cialites drink­ing cham­pagne while watch­ing the sun set over the Mediter­ranean. For a brand that epit­o­mises la dolce vita, the last thing we ex­pected from the stylish Ital­ians was a high-off-the-ground, all-wheel-drive SUV. Such a model is at odds with the long tra­di­tion of sports and GT mod­els be­gun by the Maserati broth­ers at the start of the pre­vi­ous cen­tury.

How­ever, even that once die-hard pro­ducer of sportscars, Porsche,

M7,44 sec re­alised that it sim­ply had to recog­nise mar­ket de­mands to stay pro ta­ble and, now, the Mo­de­nese rm has also joined the ranks of Bent­ley, BMW, Mercedes-benz and, soon enough, Rolls-royce and Lam­borgh­ini by of­fer­ing its very own take on the SUV theme. Wel­come to the Levante, a model that, if you’re won­der­ing, is named after a warm Mediter­ranean wind.

Of course, be­ing style-con­sciously Ital­ian, Maserati wasn’t sim­ply go­ing to churn out a squared-off, two-box de­sign, and the Levante’s cur­va­ceous lines im­me­di­ately set it apart from more an­gu­lar ri­vals. While there are hints of Jaguar F-pace around the rump and more than one tester was re­minded of In niti’s un­gainly QX70, the Levante cer­tainly stands out from a sea of Range Rover Sports and Porsche cayennes.

Even with rel­a­tively few Maser­atis on South African roads, and con­sid­er­ing that the SUV de­riv­a­tive is all new, it was in­ter­est­ing to note how quickly on­look­ers pegged our test car as a Maserati. The large front-sited air in­take,

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