In Brief

Maserati unveils the Levante ahead of Geneva debut

First images show a contemporary design as Italian car-maker looks to take on the Porsche Cayenne

Maserati has revealed pictures of its first SUV, the Levante, ahead of its debut and full reveal at the Geneva Motor Show next week.

The images, released after one or two leaks prompted the car-maker into action, show the Italian marque's unmistakably contemporary design language – the big grille mated to the two, thin slash-like lights and with three cooling vents running down the front side panels. There's also a touch of sportiness from the creases, rear wing and exhaust exits. Inside, expect plenty of leather and a central screen infotainment centre mounted on the dashboard.

The car will come with a choice of diesel and petrol powerplants and will be all-wheel drive with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. V6 diesels will make up the entry level models, but twin-turbocharged V6 petrols are expected as well as a range-topping V8 that could have around 500bhp. A hybrid model is likely to join the collection at some point, too.                             

Playing up the performance angle, Maserati say the Levante will have "unrivalled handling even on very low-grip surfaces". It's a bold mission statement, according to Top Gear. The fast, sports-bred SUV class is now "thronging with absurdly strong contenders" such as the Jaguar F-Pace, Porsche Macan and the Range Rover Sport. If Maserati can pull the Levante off, it should be "quite some thing", adds the magazine. 

Auto Express, meanwhile, says the Levante has "more than a few Porsche Cayenne like proportions to it", referencing the car that has no doubt inspired Maserati. The SUV is becoming extremely lucrative for cash-strapped manufacturers and much has been said about the Levante being vital to the Italian manufacturer's future. They will be hopeful for as successful an introduction as when Porsche revealed its first SUV.

Autocar suggests Maserati is hoping to grow its overall sales to 70,000 units a year thanks to the Levante, which should start from around £65,000. Order books open after the car makes its debut at Geneva next week, with first deliveries this spring.

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