What is it?
With the arrival of the Levante S, Maserati’s SUV is available for the first time in right-hand drive markets with a petrol engine. At launch, the Levante was offered in the UK only with a V6 diesel, which, as Maserati itself admits, undermined one of the marque’s core brand values: a stirring soundtrack.
The Levante was always intended to be Maserati’s volume seller. Since going on sale in 2016, the SUV has just about doubled the company’s output, thanks largely to that relatively frugal diesel offering. But there is undoubtedly a hardcore of potential Levante buyers in the UK who just couldn’t reconcile that famous trident badge, and all the connotations of luxury, performance and desirability that went along with it, with the agricultural rumblings of a diesel motor. Now, they don’t have to.
The petrol engine is a 3.0-litre, twin-turbo V6 - built by Ferrari, no less - that develops 424bhp and 428lb ft of torque at 4500rpm. Maserati quotes a 0-62mph time of 5.2sec and a 164mph top speed. Whereas the diesel engine returns claimed fuel economy of 39.2mpg on the combined cycle, the petrol manages 25.9mpg, with 253g/km of CO2.
For this 2018 model year refresh, Maserati has introduced two new model lines. Having chosen between the Levante diesel and Levante S, buyers can then upgrade to either GranSport or GranLusso specification, the former adding sportier design touches - black body trim and well-bolstered sports seats - while the latter tends towards luxury, adding chrome and body-coloured elements externally and wood trim rather than carbonfibre within the cabin.
Other changes include a switch to electric power steering, as well as a new suite of level two advanced driver assistance systems, including lane keep assist and road sign recognition.
How important is the Levante to Maserati? Given that 90% of buyers have never owned a Maserati before, it seems the Levante is set to form the basis of the marque’s entire business strategy for years to come.