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First drive: Maserati Levante S GranSport. Image by Maserati.

First drive: Maserati Levante S GranSport
Modest tweaks for the 2019MY add up to a more attractive Maserati Levante SUV than ever.

 



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Maserati Levante S GranSport

4 4 4 4 4

Maserati has tweaked its Levante SUV and introduced a new entry-level V6 petrol engine to the range. This new engine will be reaching our shores in September of this year. But the more exciting news is that there is also a Ferrari-built V8 on the way, which will power the Levante Trofeo and Levante GTS models, but again, we have to wait until at least next year to get our hands on these versions. So, we've been test-driving the updated Levante in GranSport trim powered by the familiar 424hp V6 petrol engine.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Maserati Levante S GranSport
Pricing 79,125 on-the-road
Engine: twin-turbo V6 3.0-litre petrol
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Body style: five-door, five-seat SUV
CO2 emissions: 273g/km
Combined economy: 23.9mpg
Top speed: 164mph
0-62mph: 5.2 seconds
Power: 424bhp at 5,750rpm
Torque: 580Nm at 1,750-5,000rpm

What's this?

This is the updated-for-2019MY Maserati Levante with a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol engine under its bonnet, which is mated to an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox and Maserati's Q4 all-wheel drive, complete with mechanical limited slip differential at that back and torque vectoring. It also comes with selectable drive modes as standard: Normal, Sport, Offroad and I.C.E. (Increased Control and Efficiency) and, new for the MY19, drivers can now manually reduce the ride height by selecting the Skyhook suspension Sport setting.

This updated GranSport model is differentiated from the GranLusso by subtle exterior styling cues. It has piano black grille insets, where the GranLusso gets chrome inserts. The GranSport model can further be identified with its sportier looking lower front fascia and rear bumper, plus red brake calipers behind 20-inch alloys.

Standard equipment includes leather upholstery and steering wheel rim, Piano Black trim, an 8.4-inch infotainment screen, Base Audio System with eight speakers, cruise control, Hill Descent Control, dual-zone climate control, wipers with rain sensor and keyless entry on the front doors.

GranSport models also come with 12-way powered sport front seats with memory function and integrated anti-whiplash headrests, a power-adjustable sport steering wheel with aluminium gearshift paddles, power adjustable Inox sport pedals, parking sensors and satnav. The leather seats are available in four colours - black, red, beige and tan - featuring specific stitching, which is also extended to the leatherette dashboard.

The cabin is well screwed together with a good mix of soft touch materials and comfortable seats. The red leather adds a much-needed pop of colour to the interior and the power adjustable steering wheel and seats make it easy to find a comfortable driving position. Whilst the infotainment system is easy to use, those updated graphics are still a little basic and don't match those offered by rival manufacturers. The cabin is classy looking and quiet, but the switchgear drags the ambience down as it looks cheap and is not as plush or elegant as you'd expect from a high-end Italian car.

Rear leg-, head- and shoulder room are good, but the boot capacity is a lot less than found in rivals, at 580- to 1,625 litres.

Overall, the Levante is a handsome machine with a refined cabin that is just slightly let down by the infotainment system's graphics and the plastic switchgear.

How does it drive?

With the 424bhp V6 under the bonnet making 580Nm of torque from 1,750- to 5,000rpm the Levante feels very capable and powerful under most road conditions. However, it is a big, heavy machine so it never really feels particularly quick. Saying that, for such a large machine it handles remarkably with a wonderfully poised chassis.

The steering is well-weighted and accurate, and the Levante is easy to manoeuvre and has good visibility all round. This, combined with the Q4 all-wheel drive and slick gearbox, makes it easy to drive swiftly in and out of traffic as well as in and out of bends and sharper corners. Even when you pick up speed, the car remains controlled.

However, the Levante does bounce over larger lumps and bumps, though lowering the ride height in Sport mode does lessen this effect, even if this can cause the ride to be a little harsher due to the suspension stiffening up. But this additional option of manual ride height selection really does help to find a nice balance between comfort and performance.

The V6 is smooth and refined and the eight-speed automatic gearbox is quick and slick and thanks to the updated design of the gear selector moving from manual mode to automatic is a simple as flicking the selector from right to left. Manual mode is a delight thanks to lovely metal paddle shifters that add a sporty touch to the drive. Also adding to the sportiness is the lovely noise that emanates from the exhausts when you put your foot down.

Verdict

The small changes to the updated Levante have been worthwhile. The ride is more comfortable than before thanks to the ability to select the ride height manually and independently from Sport mode. The gear and mode selectors are more user friendly and whilst mild, the exterior and interior tweaks do add a touch more class to the big SUV. The Levante comes well fitted-out as standard, too; however, its price tag is higher than most of its rivals', and those offer slicker tech and, in some cases, a better driving experience. Therefore, the Levante doesn't seem to offer the same value for money as other cars in the segment. Thankfully, it's gorgeous to look at.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Melanie May - 20 Jul 2018









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2018 Maserati Levante S GranSport. Image by Maserati.2018 Maserati Levante S GranSport. Image by Maserati.2018 Maserati Levante S GranSport. Image by Maserati.2018 Maserati Levante S GranSport. Image by Maserati.2018 Maserati Levante S GranSport. Image by Maserati.

2018 Maserati Levante S GranSport. Image by Maserati.2018 Maserati Levante S GranSport. Image by Maserati.2018 Maserati Levante S GranSport. Image by Maserati.2018 Maserati Levante S GranSport. Image by Maserati.2018 Maserati Levante S GranSport. Image by Maserati.








 

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