Higher and higher

Maserati Le­vante £58,315

Top Gear (Malaysia) - - Drives -


Re­mem­ber this? Hasn’t ex­actly set the world on fire in the UK, has it? The Maserati Le­vante is now two years old, and just emerg­ing from a light preen. Noth­ing fun­da­men­tal, the Le­vante is still based on the Ghi­bli/QP plat­form, but gains new bumpers, trims and a new en­gine.

That’s a 350bhp ver­sion of the 3.0 twin-turbo V6 that’s al­ready avail­able in the Le­vante S with 430bhp. That con­tin­ues, as does an­other 3.0 twin­turbo, this time a diesel with 275bhp. That’s the start­ing point for Maserati SUV own­er­ship, cost­ing £58,315, while the flag­ship S weighs in at £72,525. The mod­els Maserati needs are the twin-turbo V8s, the 550bhp GTS and 590bhp Tro­feo. No prom­ises. Maser is look­ing at the busi­ness case. It shouldn’t. Those are needed for halo rea­sons if it is se­ri­ous about tak­ing on the Cayenne, RRS SVR et al.

Don’t have the diesel. It does a job, and is broad-shoul­dered enough to sup­port the 2,205kg kerb­weight. It’s also smooth and quiet. But it’s never go­ing to make you feel like you’re driv­ing a Maserati. The S, that’s what you want – not the torquiest low down, but raspy and po­tent, be­fit­ting its Fer­rari ori­gins. And be­fit­ting the crisp and ag­ile way it drives. Not as taut as a Cayenne, but with steer­ing and han­dling that in­spires con­fi­dence and de­liv­ers en­joy­ment. At high speeds it’s sta­ble and quiet and the sus­pen­sion doesn’t make too much fuss of the sur­face it’s rid­ing over. The whole thing is helped by stan­dard air sus­pen­sion. It can crouch for high-speed driv­ing, low­er­ing the cen­tre of grav­ity and cut­ting drag.

Lit­tle known fact: the Le­vante has an ad­justable pedal box. Like a LaFer­rari. Point­less? No, it does help the Le­vante cope with a wider range of body shapes. The gear­lever is now more log­i­cal to op­er­ate and a va­ri­ety of but­tons al­low you to tai­lor the ESP, dampers, height con­trol and Sport mode. Less straight­for­ward is the cen­tral screen. You’ll use the ro­tary knob once, and never again. But don’t let that put you off. The Le­vante is bet­ter than you think. OL­LIE MAR­RIAGE

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