What is it?
The Levante is the first SUV from Italian sports car brand Maserati. It’s priced from $139,990 and is available in three models, all sharing the same V6 diesel engine.
The popular cars in this segment are the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE and Audi Q7. As a competitor to the Levante, though, the Porsche Cayenne is perhaps the most serious competitor, bringing a more exclusive badge and sports car heritage. The new Jaguar F-Pace is also worth a look.
- Cornering. While it's not especially fast in a straight line, the Levante is very capable and fast around corners. Its 2.2-tonne body sits quite flat, keeping the wheels in better contact with the road and reducing unwanted leaning. The Pirelli tyres are designed for high speed driving and have high levels of grip.
- Attention to detail. From the roof lining to the leather and general finishes the Levante has a high quality appearance. Even outside there are well-placed chrome details, including the distinctive trident badges above the stylised rear wheel arches. It is also one of the only SUVs with pillarless doors, so there are no frames around the door windows.
- Fuel economy. While Maseratis have typically been quite thirsty ‑ a result of big power and big performance ‑ the Levante is impressively economical. Claimed average fuel use is just 7.2 litres per 100km, enabling 1000km-plus range from the 80-litre fuel tank.
The Levante's 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine is not traditional Maserati. That's because it's a more powerful version of the same engine used in various Jeeps and Chryslers. Maserati has worked to improve the sound and performance but it lacks the drama and excitement of the petrol engines (typically V6s and V8s, some based on Ferrari designs) that have long defined the brand.
- The price. The Levante's $139,990 starting price is tens of thousands above the entry price of key alternatives from the likes of Porsche, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. However, for the outlay you should get exclusivity, with only about 500 Levantes likely to be sold in Australia each year.
- Active safety. While the Levante comes with blind spot warning and lane departure warning it misses out on autonomous emergency braking, something increasingly popular in new models and very common in luxury cars. AEB can automatically slam on the brakes to avoid a nose-to-tail crash. Instead the Levante gets forward collision warning, which simply alerts the driver if a potential crash is imminent.