As I glance down every once in a while to the touchscreen in the middle of the dash, I grab a quick glimpse of this plaque with all the car’s title on it. The plaque states ‘Levante’ naturally, which is the title of a Mediterranean wind that may turn into a gale in an instant; go figure. However, Leviathan is the feeling I get from behind the wheel of this SUV, and I guess that has been, to some degree, Maserati’s intention too.
To get a five-seat SUV, this thing is huge, especially its length, which is a couple of layers of paint thicker than five meters, a remarkably large proportion of which is bonnet. It seems it from behind the wheel too, as I peer down this huge hood and attempt to have a sense of its extremities. I’ve obtained the cozy, stylish driver’s chair virtually in its highest position in order to achieve this, but taller people might have the ability to lower it to a position that seems closer to a conventional Maserati — even more sportscar-like. However, I remember that, when I first got in, it was quite a climb up off the floor.
You see what I’m getting in here. They might call it ‘that the Maserati of SUVs’, however on first acquaintance at least, the Levante feels like it has not quite decided what it needs to become more of — Maserati or SUV. Perhaps you have got the mix just right?
First things first, if you are an enthusiast or not, this does not seem like exactly what convention dictates an SUV to look like. After the world bore witness to the stunning Maserati Alfieri concept car back in 2014, who’d have believed the first car to draw inspiration from it could be a massive 4×4. It’s certainly got the outright bulk to be an SUV, it rides — even on its air suspension’s medium setting — high off the floor, it’s got enormous brakes and chunky tires, along with a gigantic grille at front of However, the proportions simply don’t fit. Love it or hate it, there is nothing quite like the seeing with the gobsmacked look on other motorists’ faces because they eyeball this uncommon, odd and imposing vehicle.
Red leather would appear outlandish in many SUVs, but here, somehow, it simply works. Plus it is soft, cushioned leather too, Neptune’s trident stitched delicately into the headrests, and it seems like you are sitting in expensive lounge furniture. Our car is trimmed in the now-somewhat-passé ‘piano black’ timber, but I’ve noticed another wood trims plus they are feeling sufficiently rich too. In reality, fit and finish is the best we have defeated in a Maserati however, also there appears to have been an improvement from even the Ghibli and Quattroporte of 2015. The plastics are still not quite as great as in something from Germany, and you will find some bits (like the starter button) made from a Jeep Grand Cherokee, but there is enough plush materials in here to allow you to forgive this.
Everything you will also love is that the back seat. Not initially, since you measure high off the floor and then duck under the low roof, but as soon as you’re in a location and cocooned in that lovely leather. If we are being objective, the chair is too low in relation to the front chairs, thigh support might have been better, and also taller passengers might come in touch with all the Alcantara headliner going quickly over bumps, but let us not be objective. It seems like a Maserati should. Sumptuous and unconventionally luxurious, in which the sensation is more important than what it is possible to measure.
Where it begins to sense unlike the Maseratis we have been accustomed to — and this is really a compliment — is just how much more user-friendly the interior is. The controls are intuitive and logical (that the Quattroporte’s back sunblind was worked from a sub-menu in the touchscreen!)) , the buttons are where you expect them to be and there is even a click-wheel control if you don’t need to utilize the touchscreen to the transfer, and it works wonderful! It’s still not quite as slick, quick or feature-packed since the BMW iDrive or Audi MMI, however this latest FCA unit has virtually everything you want, like navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Exactly what the Levante lacks in tech that is innovative, it constitutes in interior trim customisation. You may select from a variety of wood trim and leather grain, including a silk-based option from design home Ermenegildo Zegna, and you will find 3 degrees of hi-fi audio platform, topping out in a 1,280-watt, 17-speaker affair from Bowers & Wilkins.
If one characteristic has united most Maseratis in India so far, it’s the inability to have over big speed breakers without scraping their bellies, due to reduced ground clearance and long wheelbases. No such issue here, obviously. The Levante also includes a lengthy, three-metre wheelbase, but it rides on air springs all around, which gives it a typical floor clearance of 207mm and may be raised to 247mm to get off-roading and reduced to 162mm for easier loading. That is a massive issue taken care of, however the suspension set also imbues the Leviathan with a ride quality that is quite typical of a large, air-sprung car. That is a bit of float — easily suppressed by switching to Sport damper style — but overall you get a rather excellent awareness of being isolated by the street, interrupted only by the noise of the big tyres slapping over expansion joints and tiny lumps. Maserati was wise to utilize 19-inch brakes and 50-profile tyres as the default option. You are able to opt for bigger wheels, clearly, but this installation feels like a good mix of aesthetics and relaxation.
Since the scales tip farther towards SUV, it’s time to participate Sport style, lower your car to ‘Aero two’ ride height, and see if there’s a bit of the old motorsport heritage hidden in here somewhere. A diesel motor might not look like the best place to begin, however this one includes a solid 275hp and 600Nm, and even though it’s pushing 2.2 tonnes of Italian palaces about, the performance is about par for the program. 6.85sec out of 0-100kph is not poor at any speed, and it’s a similar story in on-the-go acceleration. And all the while, you are treated to some soundtrack no diesel engine has some right to create — it seems like a bona fide sportscar!
Trouble is, the acceleration simply does not feel exciting or quick enough. The torque flows in so softly and easily, you miss that kick you would typically get in the mid-range out of a similarly sized six-cylinder diesel. In reality, you would not be erroneous to presume this Maserati was slower compared to the majority of the other big diesel luxury SUVs, although it actually isn’t.
The chassis, as soon as you’re pushing it, actually feels nice and balanced, due to some 50:50 weight distribution. The steering has a great, old-school hydraulic feel to it with a nice weight to it, but maybe not as much feedback as we would have liked; place it down to all of that hardware which lives between the steering wheel and the street. There is still, expectedly, some quantity of roster, and there is no escaping the reality that you are commandeering an extremely big vehicle. That said, it has a fairly impressive highway demeanour and will cruise at ludicrous speeds with no fuss at all.
With our reviewer goggles on, it’s difficult to put the Maserati Levante on a base higher than some of those other big diesel SUVs. It does exactly what it’s supposed to do — rides comfortably, performs decently and contains sufficient equipment and gizmos to satisfy most. But in these regions, it will not go farther than some of the remainder. Competition? Both have their very own USPs which produce the outlay worth their while. It’s something which simply can not be quantified — it’s allure. It lives in the softness of the leather, the more flashy design along with the rumble of the engine. It’s all those Maserati traits which shine the brightest, and will cause you to wish to decide on this faulty but characterful machine. And for the first time, this is a Maserati that you could actually love on Indian streets.
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