Luxury + Trident = SUV
The 2017 Maserati Levante s opens a new chapter for The Italian automaker Traditionally known for ITS sports cars and sedans BAD
For the ‘Shah of Persia’, Maserati built a car of the same name. It had V8 engine from the 450S —bored-out to 5.0-litre — and the chassis of the 3500. The interior was finished in rare wood, and precious metals and gold. Turbo lag; some plastic parts; child in the centre seat should never grow up
wrapped in all that. And there is an Ermenegildo Zegna edition that adds lavish embroidered silk trim to the seats. Apparently, it takes the fashion house some 300km of silk thread to complete one car and it has been developed to have the same durability as leather. The blue blood pedigree of a Maserati shines, quite literally, through the blue lighting on the TFT screen within the instrumentation panel and the blue dials of the Maserati clock. There are a few suspicious plastic bits, but they didn’t rattle or squeal during our test drive.
In the rear, passengers appreciated the rear AC vents but preferred to keep the count to two adults. If you have three on board, the centre passenger will be left shortchanged for comfort.
POWERTRAIN & PERFORMANCE
From the stables of Maranello comes prancing 424 horses and some mighty 580Nm of twist at the crank. I say “prancing” because the twin-turbo 3.0L V6 under the hood has been sourced from Ferrari. It certainly is an emotional piece of machinery! The exhaust makes angry sounds every time you plant your right foot, and the crackling notes between shifts gives your aural senses a little extra to enjoy.
Off the line, the Levante S will show some hesitation even in sports mode, but as the revs climb, one will feel being thrown back into the seat, momentarily making a spectator of the driver as it hurls itself towards the horizon, comfortably hitting the 100 km/h mark in a brisk 5.2 seconds. On the highway, it is even more of a hoot — the mid-range grunt is immense, and overtaking maneuvers not just hassle-free, but a pleasure. And let that 310km/h speedometer not surprise you: this car is very capable of doing 264 km/h or more if shown an empty stretch. But the lack of a 120km/h denomination in the speedometer got me cockeyed by forcing me to watch and keep the needle a whisker below 120 while speedily navigating traffic as 400-plus horses beckoned.
If you like the quiet solitude enjoyed by royalty, you enjoy the cabin of the Levante, with only the exhaust note seeping through and that is something desirable. The adjustable air springs did their bit to keep the ride stable and composed over most surfaces, but the few jarring surprises came when the low-profile tyres hit the small, camouflaged speed humps. The Levante can be excused only because it is an SUV that can meander through traffic with the dexterity of a sports sedan. There is some feel left to be desired from the hydraulic steering wheel, but the chassis, helped by a double-wishbone and multilink set-up along with the tractive all-wheel drive system, gives you grip everywhere, over sharp corners, over long sweeping ones and even over oil spills, I suppose.
We didn’t have to stop for fuel very often either. Although we managed to figure a few ticks off the claimed 10.9L/100km, we think it fared well in that department. As for C02 emissions, 253 g/km isn’t going to eat away large parts of the ozone and, truth be told, the industrialist who can afford this vehicle wouldn’t care less!