WHEN Maserati launched its Levante, it showed the industry how a clumsy vehicle could be made to look sexy.
Its mix of Italian styling and luxurious trimmings drew a good response from the well-heeled who wanted something less ordinary from an unexpectedly popular category of vehicle.
That said, the Levante chalked up a healthy 25,000 units across 72 countries in just over a year.
Chuffed by its acceptance, the Levante earned its own production line in Turin and adopted the new range strategy two new trims — GranLusso and the GranSport.
Other higher-end SUVs would include the German marques, which have become commonplace. The Bentley Bentayga is chunky and pricy, and soon to come, the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, which will be even more expensive and exclusive.
The Levante has outwardly cornered the looks department as far as luxury SUVs go, with its proportions, styling details and interesting curves.
Open the doors and you’re let into a sumptuous environment of lovely leather, sparkling dials, carbon fibre splashes (wood is an option), bold colour combinations and the luxury of options to fulfil any known conceivable need.
The white Levante S being tested here had a red dash and matching seats, which contrasted with the blue display.
It is connected to your mobile phone, so you’re never out of touch, and many of the functions are on the steering wheel, as standard, including paddle shifters. There’s a plethora of options once you get into the large centre display, and that takes some time to work through till you understand the ideal set up for your needs.
The test, of course, is how the Levante S will live up to its outward disposition.
Again more options are available as you can choose different modes. In normal mode it’s fairly quiet and the sound system prevails. Switch to sport mode and the timbre changes. There’s an enthusiasm about the engine as it senses the opportunity for a livelier engagement. But the sound is a distant rumble, almost as if it’s from another car nearby.
The 3-litre engine whips the twin-turbocharged horses along but has outbursts of random noises, like it has Tourette’s syndrome.
The ride in city traffic can be jerky as the wilful engine seems to want to gallop along.
It does make this a bit of a bronco to handle. If you like the brutish behaviour then this should be fun, otherwise, you might be left bewildered as to what to do to tame this expensive beast.
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MASERATI LEVANTE S GRANSPORT TECH SPECS
Engine: 60° V6 twin turbo
Max Power: 316kW@5,750rpm
Max Torque: 580Nm@5,000rpm
0-100kmh: 5.2 seconds
Top Speed: 264kmh
Retail price: *$489,800
Please reconfirm price with the dealer.
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