Putting the Levante GranLusso’s interior under the microscope is an undertaking that’s as exasperating as it is delightful. On the face of things, Maserati seems to have worked hard to create a space that looks and feels not just upmarket but alternatively so, to imbue a distinct sense of identity, richness, luxury and flair next to the more serious, purposeful interiors of rivals from Porsche or Audi.
Our car’s tan leather upholstery with its Ermenegildo Zegna silk inserts best exemplifies this, as do the £1035 Ebano wood trim inserts that extracted comparisons to Riva speedboats and vintage Fender Stratocasters from our testers. At a glance, the Levante’s is a classy and sophisticated cabin; but these almost romantic initial impressions begin to erode under closer inspection.
Cheap-feeling plastic switchgear and controls that don’t belong on an £80k car are the main offenders in this regard, and their abundant presence doesn’t make for an endearing juxtaposition against the more tasteful elements of the Maserati’s cabin. The plasticky controls on the centre console look particularly jarring against the wood veneer, while the hard grey moulding that surrounds the infotainment screen is similarly unattractive. The row of climate controls immediately below might work well from an ergonomic point of view but, as with so much of the switchgear, it lacks the tactile appeal and material richness expected for the price.
The Levante makes use of Maserati’s Touch Control Plus (MTC+) infotainment system, which is effectively a reskinned version of FCA’s latest UConnect set-up. This means an 8.4in touchscreen is the main means of interacting with and controlling the majority of the Levante’s functions, which include satellite navigation, heated seats and steering wheel, DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are also included as standard.
While the operating system itself is easy enough to learn, it’s not always quite as slick as you would expect a near-£80,000 car’s infotainment suite to be: there can be a noticeable delay when switching between menus and the graphics for the satellite navigation aren’t outstanding. Setting up Apple CarPlay or Android Auto mirroring is easy, but the lack of any apparent shortcut buttons makes navigating back to the menu to change the radio station or adjust seat heater temperatures a frustrating endeavour.
Interior space is reasonable, but not as abundant as its five-metre footprint suggests it should be. Despite being bigger than both a Range Rover Sport and a Porsche Cayenne (in both length and wheelbase), it’s the Maserati that comes up short for rear leg room. The Levante’s 710mm compares with 740mm for the Range Rover and 790mm for the Porsche. Admittedly, four adults will fit comfortably, but Maserati’s packaging efforts still seem questionable.