Unmistakably Italian, the Levante launched a couple of years ago, offering Maserati lovers the chance to join into the increasingly popular world of SUVs. Handsome and elegant, like everything Maserati does, the Levante is instantly recognizable for its imposing grille, which was inspired by the Alfieri concept, and pays homage to historic Maserati cars like the Tipo 60 Birdcage.
Despite being quite a large vehicle (5m long and 2.1m wide), its silhouette is very much that of a coupé, a look that is enhanced by frameless doors and stylish headlights. Thanks to its size, the rear seats comfortably accommodate three passengers providing them with generous head and leg room. You will certainly appreciate the 580 litres luggage compartment, where you can almost carry a small pony.
The new refined Levante looks a bit wider on the rear, and somehow, more masculine, probably because of a new sharper horizontal element and lower extractor that embrace the exhaust tips, which are also distinguishing features of the V8 equipped versions for their oval shape.
Also on the new V8 versions, the side air intakes in the lower fascia feature a more aggressive design, defined by two aerodynamic wings that “push” the weight of the car’s nose towards its front wheels. The side bezel blades and the splitter help improving the airflow distribution. The Levante S GranLusso is a high-end interpretation of this accomplished vehicle, with a luxurious interior, and meticulous attention to detail in every component, from the hand-stitched leather seats to the Ermenegildo Zegna silks on the seats, door panels, roof lining, sunshades and ceiling light fixture.
The GranLusso boasts elegant chrome inserts in the front fascia, chrome front/rear skid plates, body colour rear spoiler, black-painted brake callipers, 19-inch Zefiro alloy wheels and GranLusso badges on the fenders. The trim also includes standard 12-way power comfort front seats with memory function, power-adjustable steering wheel and pedals, illuminated doorsills, parking sensors, navigation system and Soft Close Doors system. Oh! As I am always running out of juice on my phone, I particularly appreciated the 3 USB outlets in the cabin.
With a 3.0l twin turbo V6 engine, and 430hp, the Levante S GranLusso is a car you need to drive to fully understand how appealing it can be. I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed both driving it and travelling as just a passenger. Cradled in its fully adaptive seats, with The Cure blasting through its state of the art Bowers & Wilkins Surround Sound System, my companion and I traveled through miles of gorgeous Surrey country lanes, very much enjoying the versatility of the car, which allowed us to go off road a couple of times for further exploration of the area. Like any modern Maserati petrol engine, the Twin Turbo V6 has been developed in cooperation with Ferrari and is assembled in its state-of-the art factory in Maranello and has been revised to accommodate the Q4 Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system. Maximum torque is available well below 2000 rpm ensuring superb drivability.
In the best Maserati tradition, the petrol engine’s exhaust system is controlled by pneumatic valves. In the default driving mode, the bypass valves are closed for a discreet engine sound; but in Sport mode, the exhaust valves open, providing the shortest possible exit route for the exhaust gases. This gives the Levante its maximum engine performance and the unique Maserati engine sound. Beneath the rear bumper, the exhaust gases emerge through two double tailpipes in polished steel.
Together with an active air suspension system that raises or lowers the vehicle according to situation or preference, the Levante S GranLusso seemed to gracefully glide over the road, surprising us with its snarling responsiveness and GT like comfort.