It may have taken 102 years to happen, but Maserati will enter the Australian luxury SUV market for the first time when three variants of its medium-sized Levante hits dealerships at the end of this year.
Priced above its similarly-equipped European rivals, the 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 Maserati Levante starts at $139,990, but it’s that $100k-plus SUV category that’s currently experiencing exponential growth in Australia and the Italian car maker wants a slice of the rapidly expanding pie.
Despite the $140k asking price – which rises to $159,990 for either the Sport or Luxury versions – Maserati is holding firm in its belief that the soon-to-be released SUV will be its highest selling model yet.
“The segment is more than half the overall luxury market,” explained Maserati Australia’s Glen Sealy. “So if we can get a share in that, it will be the largest-selling model we have.”
And if recent data released by Australia’s Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries is any indication, there’s no reason not to believe him. Figures for new car sales for the month of May revealed that while sales of passenger vehicles dropped, SUVs rose to make up 37.5 percent of all new vehicles sold, with medium SUVs up almost 20 percent compared to the same period last year. On top of this, the over-$100,000 SUV category was up a whopping 132 percent compared to the same period last year.
All three models will be powered by the same 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 capable of 202kW and 600Nm matched to an all-wheel drive eight-speed automatic transmission. There’ll be four selectable driver modes, normal, sport, off-road and Intelligent Controlled Efficiency (ICE) for slippery conditions which adjusts the power, suspension, ride height (by up to eight centimetres), electronics and transmission characteristics depending on the terrain or type of driving you’re doing.
“It’s a really unique vehicle in that it handles like a sportscar, or it can have really supple off-road handling when you want it to,” Sealy continued. “It’s a no-compromise vehicle and we know it’s going to work in this market.”
Safety wise, there’s electronic driver aids a-plenty with Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning and Brake Assist System, Lane Departure Warning and a Surround View camera standard on all models, as well as a 8.4-inch touchscreen display with DAB digital radio and Apple’s CarPlay and Android control software.
The Luxury variant gets premium leather trim, a panoramic sunroof, a higher-spec entertainment system and 20-inch wheels instead of the standard version’s 19-inch affairs. The Sport model goes an inch bigger with 21-inch alloy wheels, steering wheel shift paddles, sporty pedals, bolstered seats and a rear spoiler.