In Depth

Maserati Levante SUV: reviews, specs and prices

Everything you need to know about Maserati's new SUV

Maserati's first SUV goes on sale this year, marking the company's entrance into the big money SUV market sector. Indeed, many commentators are calling the Levante the most important car the Italian marque has made in its entire 102-year history.

First hinted at by the Kubang concept in 2011, the Levante finally emerged at this year's Geneva Motor Show. It's a huge break from the company's past, but what is it like?

Design

Maserati has crafted an SUV playing up to the brand's performance-orientated heritage, with the Levante's design making use of the tried-and-tested sloping roofline feeding into a rear spoiler, as used on many of its rivals.

In a similar manner to Jaguar designing its F-Pace SUV to strongly resemble other cars in its line-up, Maserati's efforts have been inspired by other cars in the brand's line-up. The front end resembles the Ghibli saloon – the broad front grille is used on all of Maserati's cars, while the intakes slotted in low underneath aren't too dissimilar – but it is much chunkier, with two fog lamps below the headlamps.

Maserati's trademark triple side vents sit behind and above both front wheels and the shoulder rises up as the roofline sinks to give a squatted, purposeful appearance. Over the rear axle, the line bulges out for an even chunkier look. 

Four exhausts flank the rear diffuser and the taillights look like smaller, slightly altered versions of the ones used on the Granturismo GT.

Interior

CarBuyer says the Levante's interior is "typically luxurious" and beautifully finished. Leather comes as standard and combined with the sound deadening and adjustable suspension setups, the car can be tuned to become a "calm, quiet, and comfortable" place to sit.

Bucket-style seats are mated to a large centre console and storage bins run between the driver and passenger seats. An 8.4ins touchscreen infotainment system sits in the middle of the dashboard, as well as a rotary knob for a secondary form of control.

As standard, Levantes get the touchscreen and an eight-speaker stereo system, dual-zone climate control and keyless entry. Other tech highlights include cruise and hill-descent control and automatic windscreen wipers.

There are also plenty of options to choose from, including two-tone upholstery and 28 trim colours.

The Levante's sporty styling does compromise the interior space, however. The car is only available as a five-seater and the middle seat in the rear pew is small. Boot space comes in at 580 litres, some way behind the 770 litres managed by the Audi Q7.

Engines

Initially, Maserati planned to offer the Levante to UK buyers with only one engine option, although according to Auto Express, that's likely to change.

The company earmarked the 3.0-litre V6 diesel for UK shores. This produces 271bhp, powers the SUV to 62mph in 6.9secs from a standing start and emits 189g/km CO2.

Auto Express claims Maserati are to reverse their decision and eventually offer a petrol option, too. It's another turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 unit, producing 430bhp and derived by Ferrari, "so there'll be reason for enthusiasts to get excited". Foreign buyers get two petrol options.

Adding to this, a plug-in hybrid powertrain could emerge in 2018.

Prices and release

First deliveries of the diesel-powered cars will begin in the autumn, with the petrol engine on sale at some point in November.

Diesel prices start at £54,335 – that's a tad more than an entry level Porsche Cayenne, although the Maserati is a little more powerful. Buyers get four trim levels to choose from.

Levante luxury models kick off at £60,285, as do those in Sport trim. Topping the range is the Zegna-pack, with prices starting from £61,185.

If the petrol option does make its way to the UK, prices will likely start north of £60,000.

Reviews

Here's what the critics have to say about the Levante diesel. Considering the Levante is a sizeable SUV, it "feels solid and planted on the road", says Carbuyer, with "well judged steering and a suspension system that lets you feel what the wheels are doing".

The eight-speed automatic gearbox is a perfect fit, but its "gear changes aren't as fast as those of the automatic gearbox in the Audi Q7".

Auto Express agrees, saying that the Levante "won't snatch gears as nicely" as its Audi rival, "but leave it in auto and it'll slur along without you noticing."

The Levante's 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine also lacks the refinement of its German equivalents, but its claimed fuel economy of 39.2mpg and emissions around 189g/km "shouldn't cost you much to run".

The ride is comfortable and balanced, says Autocar, but not to the extent that it would "usurp the competition". The real problem, though, is that "it isn't terribly fast". A petrol V6 "would have made a better Maserati", the website says.

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