Maserati marvel

Petrol Le­vante un­leashed

Albany Extra - - Motoring - Ewan Kennedy

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.

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