1. The Levante is the first SUV sold by Maserati, a brand that is part of the Fiat Chrysler group.
2. The Levante was initially planned to be produced in America using underbody components of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. However, parent company of both brands, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles made the decision to produce Maserati's first SUV in Italy on a bespoke Maserati platform.
3. The Levante uses a 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel engine produced by Italian company VM Motori. The basic engine is also used in various Chryslers and Jeeps, although Maserati has tweaked the exhaust and other items to produce slightly more power. The Levante's 202kW power peak is 10 percent more than the Jeep Grand Cherokee's 184kW.
4. V6 diesel engines typically sound fairly dull, with most brands keen to mute the associated clatter in the quest for refinement. But Maserati has worked hard to boost the aural qualities of the Levante. Carefully plumbing and tuning has created more of a burble, particularly at low revs.
5. The Maserati Levante is available overseas with a V6 twin-turbo engine with a lot more power than the diesel. However, that engine is not yet available in Levantes with the steering wheel on the right. Maserati is currently considering engineering the flagship V6 petrol engine for right-hand drive vehicles, although it would arrive in 2018 at the earliest.
6. The Levante is available in three basic guises in Australia. All come with leather, digital radio tuning, satellite navigation, active cruise control and adjustable height air suspension. The base model misses out on the race car-like gearshift paddles of the more expensive variants.
7. The Levante misses out on autonomous emergency braking, an increasingly common active safety feature that monitors vehicles ahead and can automatically apply the brakes to avoid a crash. Instead it has a forward collision warning system that warns when the car is about to crash but doesn't apply brakes. Maserati argues the driver should always be in control, hence the notable safety omission. It's a similar argument used until recently by BMW.
8. Some features and switches in the Levante are shared with Chryslers and Jeeps. The audio buttons on the back of the steering wheel. For example, and the 8.4-inch colour touchscreen; the latter includes Maserati colours and a Maserati logo to differentiate it.
9. All Levantes come with 19-, 20- or 21-inch wheels. Each step up in wheel size gets a slightly lower profile (the distance between the wheel rim and the road) that makes small or sharp bumps more obvious. Those wanting smaller wheels - which would be more resistant to punctures off-road - can option 18-inch wheels.
10. Like key rivals the Maserati Levante is designed predominantly for on-road driving. However Maserati has fitted an off-road program that raises the standard air suspension system by up to 40mm and to make light-duty off-reading easier. There is also a hill descent control system that uses the anti-lock brakes to maintain a pre-set speed (between 4 and 14km/h) down hills.
11. The Levante is set to be the best selling Maserati ever sold in Australia. Maserati is expecting to sell about 500 per year, in turn doubling the marque's sales. However, at that rate the Levante will still be one of the most exclusive luxury SUVs on the market.
12. The Levante is one of five models planned for the Maserati family. It includes the Ghibli mid-sized sedan, Quattroporte large sedan, Gran Turismo four-seat coupe, Gran Cabrio four-seat convertible and the upcoming Alfieri two-seat sports car.
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