Maserati Levante SUV (2016 - ) review
The Levante is Maserati’s first SUV, and its Italian charms are trying to attract the kind of buyers who are tempted by the Porsche Cayenne, BMW X6 or Jaguar F-Pace.
Interested in buying Maserati Levante?
In common with all its sister models – the Ghibli and Quattroporte saloons, the Granturismo coupe and Granbcabrio convertible – the Levante is very much a ‘premium’ product that sits at the upper end of its market. From the word go, it’s perfectly clear the car is a Maserati through and through. There’s the bold vertical slats on the grille, the three chrome-trimmed inlets on the front wing, and the famous trident badge just behind the rearmost side window. As you would expect, alloy wheels are standard on every model, and so is a twin-pipe exhaust system, giving the car a sporty look. Buyers can also personalise their car, with options including larger alloy wheels, roof rails, different paint finishes for the car’s body – and even for the brake callipers – and finishing the bumpers, sills and side mouldings in body colour.
We’ve only driven one Levante so far, which was fitted with the Luxury Pack. However, the good news is that your first impression is of a very high-quality interior. There’s a fine blend of materials, with plenty of wood and leather on show, and if our brief experience of the car is anything to go by, it’s all very well built, too. What’s more, just as with the exterior, there’s plenty of scope to personalise the cabin, with lots of different options for the materials and finishes. It’s all pretty easy to use, too, and the standard touch-screen has good graphics on its 8.4-inch display. To cap it all, thanks to the electrically adjustable front seats and the reach- and rake-adjustable steering column, most people will be able to find a comfortable driving position.
There are no complaints about how much room there is in the front, and thanks to the Easy Entry system on our test car – which drops the car’s air suspension when the car is parked – it’s nice and easy to climb aboard. Sadly, it’s not such good news in the back. There’s quite a high sill to climb over to get in, and if the front seats are pushed well back (if there’s a six-footer at the wheel, for instance), there’s not much of a gap to squeeze your feet into, while legroom is also more restricted than in some of its rivals. At least the headroom is better than you might expect in car with such a coupe-like profile, and, the 580 litre boot is on a par with what you’ll find in a BMW X6, although not as big as the Jaguar F-Pace’s or Porsche Cayenne’s.
Ride and handling
We’ve only driven the Levante briefly – and in the face of a battering from a winter storm – but it was enough to show that if you treat the car as the Grand Tourer that Maserati claims it is, it’s a fine choice. On faster, sweeping roads, taken at a decent speed, you get all the response you could want, while the refinement is excellent and the ride pretty comfortable. Overall, it felt well-balanced, too, which is no surprise, given that the Levante’s four-wheel drive system has been set up with a bias to the rear wheels in normal conditions – just the set-up you find in many of the world’s finest sports cars. Trouble is, that sure-footedness comes at the expense of the agile feel you get in, say, a Porsche Cayenne or Jaguar F-Pace. Those rivals feel lighter on their feet, and a Levante’s driver is always conscious of the car’s weight as it navigates a series of bends. Don’t get us wrong, the Levante is a perfectly good car to drive, but it just feels a little short of kind of sportiness and involvement you might expect.
Despite the Levante’s powerful engine – which gives the car a 0-62mph time of less than seven seconds – Maserati is keen to stress that this isn’t a sports car. Which is just as well, as it doesn’t feel as quick as the vital statistics suggest. The problem starts with the engine and eight-speed automatic gearbox, which are quite slow to respond, particularly in Normal mode, and particularly when accelerating away from low speed. Things get sharper when you put the car in Sport mode, but doing so also firms up the suspension, which makes the normally decent ride a little uncomfortable. On the other hand, once you’re up and running, the Levante proves itself very quick across country, and more than capable of taking advantage of any overtaking opportunities that come its way.
Perhaps the first thing to note about the Levante is that it’s probably not as expensive as you might think. In fact, prices start at less than £55,000, and even if you add on either the Sport or Luxury packs, your bill won’t come to much more than £60,000. Better still, the average economy from the 3.0 V6 turbodiesel engine is on a par with what you’ll find in similarly powerful rivals. As yet, insurance groups are yet to be confirmed, but we expect the car’s rarity will help to keep retained values high in the future, meaning private owners will get a good amount of their investment back when they sell the car on.
It’s very hard to predict with any accuracy how reliable the Levante will be. Not only is this the company’s first SUV, Maseratis are so rare that there’s very little information out there about how reliable the cars are. All we can say is that the few online reports from owners of the Ghibli – on which the Levante is based – are very positive.
Maserati will admit it’s playing catch-up when it comes to safety features. While the Levante comes with plenty of airbags and some electronic driver aids, many more safety features are only on the options list. To get your Levante fitted with Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning and Blind Spot Alert, you’ll need to specify one of the optional Driver Assistance Packs.
As we’ve said, the Levante may be less expensive than you expect, but for the money, you get plenty of standard equipment, including air suspension, dual-zone climate control, sat-nav and a touch-screen-controlled infotainment system. The front seats are electrically adjustable, as are all four side windows and the tailgate, while the car is also fitted with front and rear parking sensors. Among the more tempting options are a surround-view camera, an uprated stereo, and a panoramic sunroof, while many buyers may well want some of the ‘packs’, especially the Sport and Luxury Packs.
If you play to its strengths, the Levante will delight you with its ability to cover long distances in comfort, while its running costs are competitive with its rivals’. For all that, though, perhaps the biggest reason buyers will head into a Maserati showroom, rather than a BMW or Porsche one, is the car’s guarantee of exclusivity, courtesy of its anticipated low sales. And, in a world that’s awash with SUVs – even at this price – that’s a very attractive commodity.