Maserati had finally entered the lucrative and highly competitive luxury SUV market. This high-end motoring segment was stuffed full with quality brands all vying to make their mark. Ever since Porsche brought out the Cayenne and seeing their revenue sales veer towards the SUV. As the German carmaker saw their sports car purchases outnumbered by the Cayenne, they would produce a second (and slightly smaller SUV, the Macan) to meet the high demand. After this, every other luxury brand quickly followed suit.
Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls Royce and Lamborghini all produced SUVs and crossovers to capitalize on this new breakout market (though Ferrari’s former CEO claimed he would have to be shot before considering a SUV, they are now developing one as well).
Maserati were hoping for big things from their Levante. They had designated their Mirafiori plant, in Turin, to build the new model. Though, in the year before its arrival, they had sold a total of 32,474 units, they wanted to sell 30,000 models of the SUV in the first year alone. Maserati were putting a lot of pressure on themselves to achieve this, so they needed a SUV to match these expectations – they had one with the 2017 Maserati Levante S.
It’s the Maserati Ghibli 2.0
As mentioned, in the 2017 Maserati Levante review, the SUV is based upon the Maserati Ghibli though the Modena carmaker made improvements in its performance. The 2017 Maserati Levante S is powered by the 3.0-liter twin turbocharged V6 Ferrari engine but now with a higher output than the Ghibli’s.
It produced 424 bhp at 5,750 rpm and 428 lb-ft of torque between 2,000 to 4,750 rpm. It would race to 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds and hit a top speed of 164 mph. For an SUV that weighs over 4,600 lbs. and is over 16 feet long, it performs well though others in its class have better numbers.
With the Trident emblazoned on the front of the oversized, iconic, grille, ensures the driver that, when igniting the engine, the familiar crackle, pop and guttural growl of the Ferrari is unleashed. Even at low revs, the joy of the engine note is readily heard.
Fuel economy is not good, though, with city driving making just 14 mpg while on the highway it creeps up to 19 mpg.
Levante S 8 Speed Gearbox
The 2017 Maserati Levante S is fitted with an eight-speed automatic transmission provided by their long-time German partner, ZF. The gearbox offers multiple driving modes: Normal; Sport; Manual & ICE. If using the transmission in ‘Normal’ mode, the large SUV operates compliantly as a quiet, urban run around. This mode can be further enhanced by engaging the ICE (Increased Control & Efficiency) which reduces the power of the engine and transmission in order to improve fuel economy.
But, to enjoy the full scope of what this Maserati can deliver, the gearbox must be switched to ‘Sport’ mode, which comes in two variations. Initially, once activated, the throttle becomes more responsive while the shift changes are executed quicker and at a higher rev count. To add to the exhilarating drive, press the ‘Sport’ mode again and the suspension firms up in anticipation of a more aggressive ride.
Finally, if this is not enough for the driver, put the 2017 Maserati Levante S into ‘Manual’ and then have full control of all gear changes by the use of the gear stick (flipped up or down) or the shift paddles situated just behind the steering wheel.
As was referenced in the 2017 Maserati Levante review, the Maserati SUV is fitted with their adaptive ‘Skyhook’ suspension system. The springs and dampers have to be even more flexible as they must give the automobile a balance between an on-road sporty model as well as being a tough off-road vehicle. The ‘Maestro’s of Modena’ achieve this effortlessly.
In its on-road setup, the 2017 Maserati Levante S rides smoothly over rough roads while able to firm up and tackle cornering at high speed with minimal body roll and discomfort to the occupants. Off-road the SUV’s wheelbase can be raised to almost 10 inches of ground clearance, 2 inches higher than the normal setting. All in all, there are 5 different height settings for the suspension with even one for allowing better access to the rear storage.
Sports Utility Luxury
The 2017 Maserati Levante S Interior is an embarrassment of riches and far exceeds any of the more austere cabins their rivals produce. In classic Italian fashion, Maserati have encased the inside of the SUV with luxurious textures and finishes. Along with the Poltrona Frau leather, that covers the seating (front and back), the dash, central console and door panels, there is also wooden veneer and brushed aluminum covering all surfaces.
French stitching and piping would complement the upholstery to contrast with the two dozen different tones the leather is available in. To take the luxury to another level, the seats and door panels can be fitted additionally with special silk provided by the Italian fashion house, Ermenegildo Zegna.
Outside the alluring curves of the bodywork come in a variety of paint choices while the 20-inch alloy wheels have large Brembo brake calipers in red. Like every Maserati, it is a symphony of style.
The Infotainment system for the 2017 Maserati Levante S would be the best that Maserati had installed into their cars. The 8.4-inch touchscreen was a highly usable piece of hardware that controlled all aspects of the interior. From the climate control, sat nav, satellite radio and connectivity via Apple Carplay Android Auto, Bluetooth and USB ports.
The Harman Kardon speakers have a standard eight speaker setup or can be upgraded to 14 speakers. If that is not enough then this can be swapped out with 17 speakers from Bowers & Wilkins.
The SUV that Maserati had produced was typical of their lineage. A high-performance automobile that was only equalled by the level of luxury within. Not something you would expect from such an ordinary vehicle as a SUV but Maserati has never been ordinary.