The Maserati brand is synonymous with making some of the finest cars in the world. They have been in the automobile industry for over a hundred years and have developed some of the most iconic cars in the world. Even if people are not familiar with the name, there is a good chance they can recognize the trident.
However, over the last few decades, the brand has lost a lot of its luster. Its popularity peaked in the 70s and the 80s and slowly faded into oblivion by the time the 21st century rolled around. Despite its diminishing market size, Maserati wants to get back into the advancing world of automobiles. One of their key ideas was to cater to the luxury and SUV market. The latter is the subject of today’s review and we shall focus on why Maserati decided to make its way into the world of SUVs with the Maserati Levante.
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Maserati’s foray into the world of SUVs
The word “Levante” is derived from the Arabic word “Levant” which denotes the warm Mediterranean winds that come in from the east and bring clouds and rains with them. Maserati hopes to bring the same change with its Sports Utility Vehicle, the Levante.
It is the first time Maserati has ever made an SUV and it looks fantastic. The trident could not be more fitting on the grille of an SUV and it feels right. The 2018 Maserati Levante is Maserati’s bold attempt to charm buyers into the world of Italian exuberance. While it may not necessarily have the heritage or the legacy to match experienced carmakers, the Maserati Levante is nothing short of pure excellence.
It is a vehicle that has range and you will notice it with just one look. Once you step inside the craftsmanship is on full display. The engine is powerful but that is hardly the point. The spine-tingling grunt it makes is what differentiates it from any other SUV. Maserati has ensured that the Levante is available to buyers with different price ranges with a slew of models.
There is the regular 2018 Maserati Levante, the GranLusso, GranSport, S, S GranLusso, and S GranSport. The GranSport and GranLusso editions had been added to the Levante lineup in 2018. Speaking of 2018, it is important to remember that the Levante was launched in 2016 and since has seen various iterations and upgrades. Today we turn our attention to the 2018 model and see what Maserati has in store for us.
What does 2018 bring?
The most important thing that Maserati has done is to add the GranLusso and GranSport editions to their Levante and Levante S lineup. These trims give customers access to a more luxurious or sportier setup for their Levante. The steering system has been upgraded to an electronic one. This helps the Levante get add-ons such as lane keep assist and automatic lane centering.
The company is also offering a Nerissimo edition for the 2018 Maserati Levante. This package brings an all-black-everything trim to the Levante. The body paint, wheels, and window surrounds are all black. The traditional chrome is replaced by a dark chrome trim.
The best sounding SUV in the business
The 2018 Maserati Levante still retains its title as the best-sounding SUV. If there is one thing the Italians know how to do, it is to create a perfect blend of performance and acoustics in a car. The Maserati might be the debut SUV from the carmaker, but their expertise shines through here. The regular Levante gets a 3.6-liter V6 that delivers a neat 345 brake horsepower and 360 lb-ft of torque. Upgrading to the S line will get you the same engine, but the aid of a turbocharger pushes the output to 424 brake horsepower and gives you 428 lb-ft of torque. The engine delivers the power to all four wheels and is matted to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The 2018 Maserati Levante also has a special GTS and a Trofeo line that comes with a V8 engine instead of a V6 and churns out 542 and 582 brake horsepower respectively.
The performance of the Levante might not be eye-catching, but it was never intended to be. It does a zero to sixty in 5.1 seconds, which puts it somewhere on the lower end of the totem pole. Despite this, Maserati knows that if you are purchasing a Levante, you are already looking for something different.
It has purposely made sure that the car sounds as lively as possible. The moment you start the engine, you can feel the distinct Italian car feeling. The Ferrari-made V6 lets out a grunt and idles, waiting for you to unleash it. As you climb the rev ranges and truly test the engine, the resonating feedback from the quad exhausts will make you feel alive. It may not be the fastest car or have the most muscle, but it is certainly the most vibrant sounding one.
A mean-looking machine
One look at the Maserati Levante and you will see what makes it distinct. The front is typical Maserati, the aggressive grille, the smooth curves mixing with the sharp lines, there is an aura of ferocity when you look at the Levante. One glance at this car and you will know that it means business.
The grille is what makes the Maserati, a Maserati. It is wide and the placement of the trident is just apt. It stoops down like a mean car, looking ready to pounce. As you look to the rear you will be caught out by the massive and almost herculean wheel arches. It also has a coupe-like roofline that gives it a very different look compared to other SUVs. The Italian flavor on the Maserati is undeniably present here and for an SUV to look this good, it is almost a crime.
The GranLusso and the GranSport models also feature distinct design elements. With the GranLusso you get a chrome grille and accents along with a 19-inch alloy wheel. The GranSport gets you a matte-black grille, aggressive bumpers, and 20-inch wheels.
What’s it like inside?
Italian leather is just beautiful to look at and to sit on. The Maserati Levante gets you just that, an upmarket cabin that is simply perfect for the price. The interiors are almost entirely wrapped in leather, you even get a leather dashboard. There are wood trims, chrome accents, and a neat analog clock to give you that classic Maserati feeling. Climate control is dual-zone but can be upgraded to a four-zone setup. The GranLusso gives you Ermenegildo Zegna silk-and-leather interiors with a splash of wood and the GranSport fetches you sports pedals and seats along with a unique steering wheel.
When looking at the negatives, you will see that the switchgear has been taken from the Fiat Chrysler group and the plastics do not go well with the luxurious theme of the car. The boot space might also leave something to be desired.
Is the Levante safe?
Like any top-of-the-line SUV in the market, the Levante is not rated by both the NHTSA or the IIHS. However, it comes loaded with airbags, driver assistance features, cameras, and a plethora of features that keeps safety in mind.
It wouldn’t be an Italian car review if we didn’t talk about how the 2018 Maserati Levante felt on the roads. It is a scintillating car to drive. The fact that the Levante is an SUV does not deter it one bit and it handles exactly how a sports car would, we are not exaggerating here. The suspension is firm and the presence of adaptive dampers helps it bring the best out of the car in sport mode. You will immediately understand that the car is typical Maserati when you throw it around corners. Despite its heft, the 2018 Maserati Levante does surprisingly well in corners.
It is ridiculously agile for an SUV and the power from the engine just adds to the experience. Like a siren, it sings its sweet song as soon as you step on the pedal. The sport mode makes everything feel that much sharper. The car zips through as you step on it and the transmission ensures that you do not skip a beat. The exhaust note immediately livens up, letting you know that the beast is awake.
Come back down to normal mode and you will find that the car does an excellent job of keeping things extremely civil. Here you can distinguish the sport from the utility. The Levante feels comfortable and is every bit the SUV that you have always wanted. Whichever mode you choose, one thing is certain, the car will feel right.
The 2018 Maserati Levante feels like it is a complete package. Maserati often attempts to foray into car segments without losing its identity and often ends up somewhere in the middle. This time, however, the Levante feels like the finest iteration of an SUV from an Italian carmaker. It is priced perfectly, has an abundance of options for those that want more, and comes with that unmistakable Italian feeling.
The engine sounds coarse and thunderous as it should. The interiors are lavish without really stepping into luxury car territory. A lot of carmakers have attempted to make SUVs, some have had moderate success and some have failed miserably. If there are any caveats, we are sure as time rolls by, Maserati will fix and perhaps even improve upon it. After many iterations, the 2018 Maserati Levante feels adequate and in many ways is simply impeccable.