February 19, 2017

2017 Maserati Levante Launch Review

2017 Maserati Levante Road test and Review...

2017 Maserati Levante Launch Review

Maserati, the famous Italian sports car company has entered a new world with the arrival of their first SUV – the Maserati Levante.

Behind the Wheel got along to the Australian launch of the model and I got a chance to sample the new offering on the road, on track and off-road as well.

The verdict? There’s plenty to like, but a few wrinkles that could be ironed out.

Let’s start with the really positive attributes of the Maserati Levante…

The Brand

Despite a sometimes rocky past, Maserati is a brand that induces a smile and lifts your heart rate.

For many people, the chance to own one, especially in a quite usable SUV form, will be too attractive to pass up.

It certainly allows you to standout from the crowd among your Jaguar, BMW, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz or Audi owning friends.

Tech

Apple CarPlay/Android Auto are always impressive and coupled with a large infotainment screen in the Levante there are no complaints here.

2017 Maserati levante reviewA ‘birds-eye’ view camera system is also a welcome inclusion and this helps make the Levante an easier car to park, or negotiate through any tight spots you might encounter either on or off road.

Cabin Space

Generally quite good. Swoopy back SUVs often have poor rear headroom – not so in the Maserati.

Headroom up front was also good and legroom front and back gets a pass-mark.

While boot space, quite long and wide, but not overly deep, is also acceptable. As are the underfloor storage spots in the boot.

The Styling

In a world of fairly bland SUVs, with some exceptions, the Maserati offering is bold and brash.

Check out the little flutes on the front fenders and the aggressive grille.

The Maserati Levante attracts a lot of attention on the roads.

The Engine

600Nm is never a bad thing and with a low down throb and gurgle when the right foot is down, the Maserati Levante’s 3.0 litre turbo-diesel engine is a great fit with the vehicle’s sporty/off-road capable attributes.

Off Road Ability

Very few Maserati Levante owners are ever going to venture too far off the pavement, though if they do they shouldn’t have too much trouble, even if things start to get a bit rough.

The secret here is an air suspension system that jacks the Levante up nice and high, giving you a total of 246mm ground clearance.

Good approach and departure angles and electronic aids such as Hill Descent Control help you get the Maserati SUV into and through rough spots without too much fuss.

Check out the Maserati Levante in action off-road…

Road Manners

An SUV with sporty pedigree and intent is by definition a difficult assignment to get right, Maserati though have come very close.

Three drive modes – Normal, Sport and Sport Suspension, give you a couple of different personalities.

Normal mode, especially in the entry-level model with 19″ wheels and 50 Series tyres rode along quite pleasantly, but I thought the suspension was a touch floaty and soft in this mode.

Sport mode changes the engine/transmission characteristics making the Levante more enthusiastic.

Sport Suspension mode then matches that with more aggressive steering and suspension feel.

My personal preference was the full Sport Suspension mode which I felt wasn’t overly aggressive and didn’t deliver a ride that was particularly hard or unpleasant.

This was even the case in the upper-spec Levante Sport with 21″ alloys and just 40 series tyres.

On the track though I felt that the largest diameter tyres and those super low profile tyres did tend to want to under-steer (keep pushing straight ahead) when pushed particularly hard in the bends.

The 20″ alloy wheels with 45 Series tyres on the top-spec Luxury was my preference on the track.

Other Positives

  • Car-like seating position
  • Good-size mirrors
  • Handy audio controls on the rear of the steering wheel
  • Quiet and well-insulated cabin
  • Nicely-sized centre console (with split down the middle access doors)
  • Attractive/functional driver info screen

The Negatives

There are a few things about the Maserati Levante that might turn-off some buyers, these include a weird rear seat design.

Featuring a rather prominent bump in the lower back/posterior area, I found it quite uncomfortable.

The drive-line had a noticeable harshness that was evident during low-speed driving.

Something that you get occasionally in different cars, when backing off the acceleration you get a ‘thud’ from under the floor.

The Levante has a solid feel about it and this strength was evident when off-road, however the trade off is very chunky roof pillars and that means visibility issues from the driver’s seat.

Cabin storage areas – namely the glove box and door storage spots are tiny.

The Maserati SUV has frame-less windows, a very rare sight in 2017, but in one of the cars I drove I noticed the occasional rattle coming from one of the rear windows.

Finally, cabin familiarity. If you’ve driven a Jeep product in recent times then you will feel at home in the Maserati Levante.

The materials, plastics, switch-gear, infotainment system interface etc. are all pretty much exactly the same as what you would find in a Chrysler/Jeep product.

2017 Maserati Levante Launch ReviewSumming it up; Maserati starts its foray into the SUV market in a strong way and I can foresee it being a reasonably big seller for the Italian car company.

The Levante is capable on and off-road and generally quite like-able and attractive.

The pricing is prohibitive, though if you’re determined to have something different then the Maserati will certainly fill that requirement.

NUTS and BOLTS – 2017 Maserati Levante

Engine: 3.0 litre turbo-diesel producing 202kW/600Nm

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Safety: Not tested

Warranty: Three years

Origin: Italy

Price: from $139,990, Sport and Luxury grades from $159,990

About Joel Helmes 3090 Articles
Joel is the founder and CEO of Behind the Wheel. Joel has a background as a radio broadcaster with on-air roles at 4BC, 4KQ, 2KY, 2LT and 2UE amongst others, as well as a news editor and program director. Joel’s relationship with cars stems back to his early childhood learning to change oil and brakes with his father and uncle. This continued on into his driving years owning an assorted collection of cars.

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