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There's a certain flair to Italian cars. These cars have a way of demanding attention from you and you always end up giving these cars that attention without batting an eyelid. There is a different way of life when it comes to these cars, and Maserati is one such special brand that manufactures such cars.
Just driving a Maserati car gives you a sense of occasion and we experienced just that, with the Maserati Levante. The Levante is the first SUV to come from the Maserati stable and packs quite a punch.
The name ‘Levante' is derived from a Mediterranean wind that can change from a calm breeze to a stormy wind in an instant. Can the Maserati Levante truly change from a breeze to a storm in an instant? What is it like to drive? We headed out to see for ourselves.
Design & Style:
The Italian touch is seen on all sides of the Maserati Levante. The Levante is not your average SUV. It comes from a brand with racing and grand touring pedigree and it does look sporty from every angle. One would struggle to find any boxy and flat surfaces. It is curvy and has aggressive lines all over.
The Levante has a unique stance! When viewed by itself, it looks like a grand tourer on stilts. It doesn't really emit the proper full-size SUV feel. It looks like it's riding low, but in reality, it is a proper full-size SUV in terms of size. It is only when you stand right next to the Levante that you realise it is huge.
Up front, it gets the famous Maserati trident logo on the eight-vertical-slat grille. It also gets adaptive LED matrix headlamps. The brand has really looked into the details with this one. The Maserati logo is embossed in the headlamp unit The SUV features circular fog lamps with chrome surrounds. The fog lamps look rather dull on a car this splendid.
However, the overall design is packaged so well that you will barely be able to recognise this unless you stare right in the face of the Levante. The bonnet is long and features lines that make it look sporty. It even gets a Maserati logo up front.
Move over to the side and you will find the lovely 20-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels. Finished in silver, these wheels are sure to grab your attention. On the front fender are three faux air intakes. Though they don't really serve a purpose, they sure do make the SUV look great. Towards the bottom end of the same fender is the GranSport variant badging.
The roof slopes down towards the rear and that creates a rather interesting sportback styling that has been packaged quite well in an SUV. On the D-pillar is another Maserati trident. The door handles are finished in chrome and that adds a premium touch to the overall design & style on the side.
The rear-end is sleek and sporty, with stylish split tail lamps, a faux bash plate, and quad exhaust outlets. It sports the stylish Maserati ensign at the centre and underneath it is a chrome strip. It even gets the Levante badging towards the bottom right of the tail gate and Q4 badging towards the bottom left.
Cockpit & Interior
Italians don't do simple and subtle, quite well. Flamboyant and extravagant are the more suitable words. The interior of the Maserati Levante shows just why these words are suitable.
Tug on the thick chrome door handles and you are greeted by this vibrant interior with Red as the primary colour. Of course, it is all covered in beautifully crafted leather and there is contrast stitching almost everywhere.
The interior of the Maserati Levante is filled with Italian flair and it feels grand right from the moment one steps into it. Sure, it isn't as neat and tidy or as organised as some of its German rivals' interiors. But it feels grand and celebratory.
There is a good ol' analogue clock on the dashboard. This adds to the luxurious appeal and adds a certain class to the interior. Below it is the big 8.4-inch touchscreen for infotainment. It comes with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, and a whole list of other features. Almost all functions of the car can be controlled via this touchscreen.
The screen is flanked by two vertical air conditioning vents and there are two more horizontally-placed vents to the extreme left and right sides of the dashboard. This asymmetrical setting can be a turn off to some, but it is an Italian car, and they just do not like to follow convention.
Beneath the infotainment screen are the controls for the air conditioning and climate control. The car comes with two-zone climate control for the driver's side and passenger's side. The controls are easy to use and the switches feel premium too. The climate control can also be controlled via the touchscreen.
Instrumentation is taken care of by an analogue-digital cluster. There is a 7.0-inch screen filled with information about the SUV and its surroundings, flanked by two large analogue gauges for the speedometer and tachometer. The binnacles for the analogue gauges look brilliant with the surrounds getting an aluminium finish.
Buyers can choose between a Harman Kardon & a Bowers & Wilkins audio system. Both are fairly high-end and produce a theatrical sound.
The seats are a near-perfect blend between sportiness and comfort. It is comfortable enough to keep you in luxury while you are clocking long distances and sporty enough to hold you in place while cornering. Yes, this SUV can corner, and we will come to that in a while. The seats are ventilated and heated even. They are electrically adjustable and even get the memory function.
The rear seats also get the same comfort levels, but miss out on heating and ventilation. Though the bench can seat three, it is best for two. There is a fold-down armrest with inbuilt cupholders in the centre. You also get a floor-mounted AC vent for the rear passengers with mobile phone charging slots right above it.
The AC vents coupled with the transmission tunnel rising out of the floor makes things uncomfortable for the passenger in the middle.
Comfort, Practicality & Boot Space
Maserati has a history with Grand Touring cars. These cars are made to cover long distances while keeping their occupants in comfort. So, Maserati knows a thing or two about comfortable cars. When the brand launched the Levante, it just knew that it had to be really comfortable as it is the first SUV from Maserati.
It turns out, the brand has done a brilliant job at that. As mentioned earlier, the Maserati Levante features really comfortable seats. It is difficult to find something to nitpick about when it comes to the seating. Leg room at the rear too is good and so is the headroom.
When it comes to being practical, the Maserati Levante has enough to keep everyone happy. The centre console up front has cubbyholes to store your wallet or smartphone. Under the centre armrest is a deep storage area that is cooled as well. A small switch inside it turns the cooling on or off.
The bottle holders in the door panels could have been a little bigger. The boot space with the second row of seats in place is 580 litres. With the seats folded down, this increases to 1,625 litres.
|Dimensions||Maserati Levante 350 GranSport|
Engine Performance & Driving Impressions
We drove the 350 GranSport variant of the Maserati Levante. It is powered by a 3.0-litre, twin-turbo V6. The ‘350' refers to the 350PS power output and this translates to about 345bhp @ 5,750rpm. It has a peak torque output of 500Nm @ 1,750 - 4,750rpm.
It is based on a Ferrari engine and it shows the moment one thumbs the starter button. It produces a low bassy rumble at startup and that sounds brilliant. Upon pressing the sport button on the centre console, the exhaust note turns into an aggressive growl and we thoroughly enjoyed flooring the throttle in every gear.
An 8-speed ZF Automatic gearbox drives all four wheels via a Q4 intelligent all-wheel-drive system. Performance is top notch too, with the 0-100km/h run dispatched in 6 seconds. It then goes on to a top speed of 251km/h.
The Maserati Levante comes with three driving modes - Normal, Sport, and Increased Control & Efficiency (I.C.E). In the Normal mode, the ride is supple and the sport exhaust valves are shut. This mode is best-suited for in-city driving. The air suspension is not firm and comfort is at its best.
Then comes the Sport mode with its louder exhaust note. Everything feels rather firm and taut. The ride is bumpier and even the smallest pothole makes you feel like you hit it too hard.
However it comes into its own on the open road and when shown some curves, the SUV handles like a grand tourer. The body roll is almost sedan-like and it is more enjoyable. The throttle response increases and it is a joy to shift through the gears using the paddle shifters. It is truly a driver's delight in this mode.
There's one more mode that allows more customisation. The button on the centre console says I.C.E, which stands for ‘Increased Control & Efficiency.' This allows users to customise the settings on the SUV. The suspension can be firm while the steering can be light or it can even be the other way around. It purely depends on the driver's needs.
Maserati has equipped the SUV with an off-road mode too. In this mode, the suspension lifts up to its maximum height and this helps it in tackling rough roads or trails. However, we're sure many Levante owners would not want to take their precious grand-touring SUV off-road. We didn't either. In Normal, Sport & I.C.E mode, the ride height is 207mm. This increases to 247mm in Off Road mode.
The Maserati Levante is one of the sportiest SUVs out there. It is the usability and practicality of an SUV and the sportiness and prestige of a grand tourer all rolled into one. The Levante 350 rides on 20-inch wheels that make it look and feel sporty. It handles very well for an SUV and body roll is controlled.
It features Sport Skyhook Adaptive Suspension that actively adjusts the damping based on the terrain the Levante is being driven on. Through this, the Maserati Levante offers almost unreal amounts of grip across varied road surfaces. It also gives it an advantage when off-road.
Despite weighing 2,100 kilograms, the Maserati Levante 350 corners almost like a sportscar especially in sports mode. It is focused and the rear almost wants to step out, but the various electronic systems coupled with the sporty Q4 AWD keeps it in line.
Safety & Key Features
The Maserati Levante is one of the most-expensive SUVs in the Indian market. So, it is no surprise really that it comes loaded with lots of features. These features aid convenience, comfort and usability. Also, it comes with lots of safety features.
- Adaptive LED Matrix Headlamps
- Soft-Close Doors
- Keyless Entry & Go
- Powered Tailgate With Foot Sensor
- Quad Exhaust Outlet
- Q4 Intelligent All-Wheel-Drive System
- Skyhook Suspension
- Premium Audio System
- Dual-Zone Climate Control
- Steering Mounted Controls
- Multiple Drive Modes
And the list goes on....
- Adaptive Cruise Control
- Lane-Keeping Assist
- Surround-View Camera
- Active Blind Spot Assist
- Hill Descent Control
- Multiple Airbags
- ABS with EBD
Maserati Levante 350 Variants
Maserati Levante 350 Competitors
The Maserati Levante 350 competes with the likes of the Porsche Cayenne, BMW X7, Land Rover Range Rover & Mercedes-Benz GLS.
The Maserati Levante 350 is not a popular choice among buyers in this segment. However, if one is looking for an SUV that stands out in an elite crowd, the Levante certainly makes for a great choice.
One can always opt for the full-blown Levante Trofeo with 590bhp. But then, there is more to a car-buying decision than just power and price. There ought to be a great feel to it and that is what the 350 offers.
It gives you frugality and practicality when needed, and this can be switched to explosive performance in an instant, much like that Mediterranean wind it was named after - Levante. A calm breeze to stormy gale in an instant.