Petrol Levante unleashed
OK, I’m going to cut straight to the chase in answer to the question I’ve been bombarded with: “Does the new petrol Levante sound like a Maserati?”
Yes, it does! There’s something about the purposeful roar of this Maserati-designed, Ferrari-built engine that makes all car-lovers smile with joy.
When Maserati launched its Levante SUV in Australia in 2017, it came only with a diesel engine.
At that time all petrol Levantes had the steering wheel on the wrong side for Australia.
This has now been rectified. So now the Maserati Levante has a twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 with 430 horsepower (321kW) and 580Nm and we’ve just spent a brilliant week at the wheel.
The Maserati Levante’s design has a very distinctive bold front headlined by the Trident badge in the centre.
It has sleek sports-coupe-like lines at the rear. The up-sweep of the glass at the waist as it meets the down-sweep at the top of the windows is smooth and easy.
The use of the traditional three slots on the front guards is continued into the Maserati SUV range. The overall effect is excellent and gained favourable smiles and comments from many during our test week.
The Levante GranLusso features Zegna silk upholstery and softclose doors that pull themselves shut.
Personalisation is a major feature in this class and no one does it better than the Italians.
You can choose from seven alloy wheel designs, five of which are new for 2018, and five interior trim choices and steering wheels.
There are even different colours for the brake calipers.
Curiously, our European cousins see yellow as being a sporting colour, whereas Aussies opt for red, so our cars get red calipers.
The luggage compartment holds 580 litres.
There’s an 8.4-inch central touchscreen to access many vehicle and infotainment functions, including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and voice recognition.
The Maserati stability program uses anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assistance system. Driver assist systems include lanekeeping assist, active blind-spot assist and traffic sign recognition.
The Maserati Levante’s twinturbo 3.0-litre V6 drives an eightspeed ZF automatic that powers through the Maserati Q4 Intelligent AWD system. The front seats are comfortable but I found the driver’s doesn’t go back quite as far as I wanted, probably to make for good legroom behind it.
The rear seats are set up for two, with a smaller third seat between them.
The engine has too much turbo lag for my taste but the ZF auto is quick to recognise the driver’s need for added grunt by downshifting smartly.
Once the lag has gone and the right gear is engaged, the big Maserati really flies.
It makes light work of overtaking and hills almost cease to exist.
Air suspension provides different height levels for on and off-road situations. Driving modes can be selected on the central console.
Cleverly, you can go for full-on Sport on the drivetrain but Comfort on the suspension.
We used this combination for day-to-day driving and found it an excellent compromise.
High-speed sweeping bends are the Levante’s forte, with great feedback from the steering wheel and seat of the pants.
Fuel consumption is high, typically around 13-17 litres per 100km around town, though it drops to nine to 11 litres on the motorway.
The Maserati Levante sounds great in a very Italianway, and goes hard.