Maserati Levante S 2018 Review
Long-anticipated since the 2003 and 2011 Kubang SUV concepts, the Levante is Maserati’s dramatically designed and brutally quick gambit into the profitable premium SUV segment. With vast vertically-slatted shark-like grille inspired by Maserati’s Alfieri sports coupe concept, the Levante’s athletic aesthetic is reflected in a platform based on the brand’s Ghibli and Quattroporte saloons – with rear-biased Q4 four-wheel-drive – rather than parent group FCA’ Jeep Grand Cherokee, as expected.
|Engine||3.0L / V6|
|Power||430 Hp / 580 Nm|
|Top Speed||264 km/h|
With heavily browed headlights, upright fascia, long bonnet, sculpted surfacing, huge staggered 265/45R20 front and 295/40R20 rear tires, quad exhaust tips and descending roofline, appended with large spoiler, the Levante cuts an urgent and predatory figure. Stiffer than the Ghibli by 20% for refinement, comfort and handling benefits, the 5-meter long, 2.1-tonne Levante features automatically closing radiator slats – visible behind the grille – and achieves segment-leading CD0.31 aerodynamics.
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Sporty yet classy with clear instrument pods, user-friendly 8.4-inch infotainment system, chunky steering wheel and rich textures and materials, the Levante is offered with extensive cabin color and material personalization possibilities. Hunkered down and refined inside, its’ driving position is supportive, comfortable and well-adjustable, while rear and surround view monitors proved particularly useful. Generously spacious, even tall and large rear occupants have good leg and headroom.
The more powerful of two variants by 80HP, the Levante S’ crackling Ferrari-built 3-litre twin-turbo V6 develops 430HP at 5750rpm and a veritable 580Nm torque tsunami throughout an accessible, broad and versatile 1750-5000rpm. Blasting through 0-100km/h in 5.2-seconds and capable of 264km/h, it delivers indefatigable thrust and explosive power through a smooth and responsive 8-speed automatic gearbox driving rear wheels under normal conditions for balanced agility.
With the Q4 system re-allocating up to 50% power frontwards, mechanical limited-slip rear-differential re-distributing power at the rear and brake-based torque vectoring, the Levante S corners with confidence, commitment, stability and agility for its segment. More than a fashion statement SUV, it is off-road capable, with dedicated modes raising ride height to 247mm and re-calibrating electronic stability and drive-line systems. A low forward-view camera also proved useful on narrow off-road routes.
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With stiffer dampers and front anti-roll bar, the more powerful Levante S rides on double wishbone front and five-link rear adaptive air suspension. Smooth and well-absorbing road imperfections, it however rides firmer than the non-S model, but is tauter, better controlled and remarkably flat through corners for its height and weight, while steering is quick and precise, if not layered with feel. Lowering to 175mm at speed, stability is reassuringly planted.
- Explosive power
- Iindefatigable torque
- Cabin space
- Confident drive
- Large and heavy
- High waistline
- Slightly firm ride