Maserati Levante: Why It's The Ultimate SUV For Everyday Luxury
The Levante is a wind that blows in the Mediterranean with the interesting trait of instantly changing from calm to gale force. Just like its namesake, the Maserati Levante was designed to be a force of nature capable of blowing you away with that dual experience of soothing calm within its luxurious interiors and an exciting whirlwind of speed on the road.
While winds are by nature an invisible force, the Levante’s powerful presence is immediately felt and seen in its eye-catching exterior with the front grille bearing the prestigious Maserati trident logo. The Levante’s outward design is once again marked by a duality of having a muscular form balanced with graceful lines. Compared with other SUVs, the Levante has a coupé-like exterior and a low stance making it aesthetically attractive.
The Levante’s advanced active air suspension system raises or lowers the vehicle according to need or preference. The driver can select from six height options to adjust to varying road or terrain conditions—from a high clearance for off-roading to a low setting for fast, efficient and smooth motorway driving.
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Apart from a low centre of gravity that enables gliding at top speeds, the Levante is powered by V6 or V8 engines with the automatic 8-gears transmission. The petrol V6 engine variant that I drove has 350 horsepower (hp) that can accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in six seconds with a maximum speed of 251 km/h. Other variants are available for those who want to drive “as fast as the wind”.
There are the Levante S with 430hp V6 engine, acceleration in 5.2 seconds, max speed of 264 km/h; the Levante GTS with 530hp V8 engine, acceleration in 4.2 seconds, max speed of 291 km/h; and the Levante Trofeo (the fastest Maserati SUV there is) with 580hp V8 engine, acceleration in 3.9 seconds, max speed of 304 km/h. For those willing to trade-off fuel efficiency for speed, the Levante Diesel has a 275hp V6 engine with a still impressive acceleration of 6.9 seconds and top speed of 230 km/h.
The sports car-like capabilities of the Levante embody the Maserati passion for speed, and an effort to pattern all Maserati models after a unique formula offering race-bred performance, bespoke Italian design and the luxuries of a grand tourer. The Levante is thus a cross-over in all respects—it has the speed of a sports car and the aptitude of an SUV; its well-appointed cabin is like luxury sedans while its durable exterior is comparable to SUVs of its class
The ZF eight-speed automatic transmission that is present in all Levante variants provides riding comfort, faster gear shifting, better fuel consumption and increased refinement. Each variant has a selection of driving modes for different road conditions or to suit a driver’s varying moods: Normal, Sport, Off-Road, Increased Control & Efficiency (ICE, which ensures a quieter, smoother ride and lower fuel consumption). Exclusive to the more high-end Levante Trofeo is the Corsa Mode which allows for faster throttle response, quicker shifting and automatic upshifting deactivation.
INSIDE THE CABIN
While the Levante’s speed and versatile competence can vary the passenger’s experience, one thing is consistent—the calm and comfort inside the cabin.
The interior of the Levante exudes luxury and Italian style that reflects the authentic Maserati character. The interior combines meticulously crafted finishes and premium materials such as hand-stitched leather seats and leather dashboard side panels, genuine wood surfaces and the Maserati exclusive natural silk upholstery by Ermenegildo Zegna. The interior trims can be customised to fit individual taste, with options that include a regimental open pore (open-pore wooden veneer inspired by textures found in the fashion industry and revered by leading couturiers of Milan), a matt carbon fibre weave (a weave pattern with a 3D effect) and a high-gloss metal weave (metallic meshes inspired by contemporary architecture).
For those who want more sun and sky, the Levante can be fitted with an electric sunroof and a manual sunshade that can be tilted at the rear or opened completely. Apart from these optional variations, the Maserati offers a “build your own” Levante to customise all other aspects of the vehicle to fit individual needs.
Just like the dual personality of the Levante wind, a certain sense of duality seems to be carried through the features of the Maserati Levante. The interiors are a mix of modern technologies and classy traditional accents. The speedometer is a traditional mechanical metre that indicates the speed with an arrow, unlike most car brands which now use electric speedometers. At the centre of the Levante’s dashboard is an analogue clock with the Maserati trident logo.
The Levante is technologically modern in all other aspects. The console houses a frameless 8-inch High Definition touchscreen graphic interface powered by Android Automotive OS, the new generation Maserati Intelligent Assistant (MIA) that offers a personalised user experience. The audio system can be adjusted to customise each person’s listening experience, allowing the isolation or enhancement of sound in the driver’s seat or any area of the passengers’ seats. The system’s volume is adjustable through a manual dial accessible next to the driver’s seat (personally, it took me a while to get used to this set-up as I instinctively relied on the digital touchscreen to navigate through the audio, temperature and other features).
Also customisable is each passenger’s temperature preference. The Levante has a four-zone climate control that enables temperature and air distribution to be adjusted separately through air outlets on the floor and pillars. An intelligent sensor paired with a signal analysis system allows the Levante to calculate external pollution levels and prevents polluted air and toxic gases from entering the cabin, improving the comfort (and health) of everyone onboard.
The Levante’s technological features go beyond enhancing comfort to enhancing safety. The Levante features a comprehensive range of Level 2 Advanced Driving Assistance Systems, one of the highest levels of autonomous driving currently available. Its Highway Assist System (HAS) is designed to help drivers steer, accelerate, brake and keep the Levante in its lane, especially when driving on highways or limited access freeways. The Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Stop&Go adjusts speed to maintain a pre-set distance from vehicles ahead. The Levante’s Traffic Sign Recognition system monitors speed limits (including temporary speed limits) and alerts the driver on overtaking restriction zones.
Beyond the Levante itself, the “Maserati Connect App” links the owner’s phone or smart device to the vehicle. Levante owners can use the App to remotely monitor fuel level, tire pressure, odometer, oil-life and vehicle health report card including checks for Powertrain, Breaks & Suspension, Oil & Fluids, Safety systems and Lights, with all information updated on the last key off. The Maserati Connect can also be used with Alexa and Google Assistant to connect the Levante with the driver’s home. This enables the Levante owner to check on vehicle status or send a destination to the vehicle’s Send & Go navigation system.
Known for its track record of creating exceptional sports cars, Maserati has made its bold foray into SUV territory via the Levante, which premiered not long ago in 2016. Since then, the Levante has evolved to reach new heights of speed, while maintaining its elegant style and riding comfort. As a luxury crossover, the Levante is still far from being a full-SUV. The cabin and luggage spaces are limited (although the 60/40 split-folding rear seats provide cargo-carrying versatility, the rear seats must be completely folded down to accommodate large-sized cargo). Its maximum ground clearance of around eight inches, while higher than sedans, is in the low range for SUVs.
However, the Levante also has an exceptional ability for speed rivalling that of sports cars, beyond what other SUVs can achieve. Perhaps there is no need to veer away from the unique identity that makes the Levante a class of its own—just like the Levante Trofeo’s brand ambassador David Beckham, who is an athlete, celebrity and style icon like no other.
Maserati claims the Levante as an “SUV that accepts no boundaries”. And just like the famous Levante wind that distinctly moves from calm to gale force, the Maserati Levante can blow people away in all directions—luxury, speed, comfort and all kinds of terrain—without being limited to only one dimension.
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