By Jola Chudy
The Maserati Levante reflects the Italian approach to design, blending attention-grabbing style with superlative performance
Getting behind the wheel of the Maserati Levante is a little like putting on an exceptionally well-made suit.
You feel like a better version of yourself – sexier, smarter and more capable of taking on whatever the road – and life – has to put your way. It’s no surprise that the makers of the Italian automotive marque craft such pleasurable chariots – the heritage of Maserati is inexorably linked to the rich history of Italian design.
Maserati has its roots in Bologna, a city with a rich industrial heritage. In 1914, four brothers – Alfieri, Ernesto, Bindo and Ettore – launched a small car workshop business and by 1926 had designed their first racing vehicle. The company moved its operations to Modena in 1939, where it continued to build successful racing cars, eventually creating the company’s first road car, the Alfieri, in 1947.
Power and beauty defined the brand then, and do so to this day; for connoisseurs of exquisite craftsmanship, the vehicle interior is a symphony of style and substance, with ergonomic interiors crafted in fine Pieno Fiore leather and finished with hand-stitched trim.
The softness is something you’d expect of the luxury leather goods industry and adds a sensuous touch to the steering wheel and seats; panels of deep velour carpet on the floor, Radica open-pore wood trim and generous space — ample for five passengers — elevate that sense of luxury.
The seats themselves can be adjusted in 12 different configurations and driver and passengers can take to their seats without needing to slam doors shut — a soft-close mechanism activates to gently click the doors shut when they are left slightly ajar.
The Levante’s exterior design underscores its power and panache from a distance thanks to its distinctive front grille that pays homage to historic Maseratis such as the Tipo60 Birdcage. Its silhouette is sporty and sleek, with muscular haunches, distinctive side air intakes and red brake calipers on 20-inch Nereo wheels that all offer a visible nod to the power beneath the bonnet.
The ultra-aerodynamic form has been forged through repeated testing in Maserati’s Turin wind tunnel that has allowed the company’s engineers to optimise air flow around the car; the technical sophistication extends to an ingenious air shutter in between the front air vents and the radiator that controls air flow to the engine, optimising the temperature and improving efficiency and therefore fuel consumption.
Its powerful V8 engine and driving dynamics capably handle all manner of driving conditions. Its integrated vehicle control system uses a smart, feed-forward controller that predicts driving situations and adapts engine speed and brakes accordingly. The car boasts several driving modes available at the touch of a button, including sport, snow, and off-road. Off-road mode has three settings for gravel, snow or even wet grass.
The driver controls are exceptionally well spaced out and designed to feel as intuitive as possible. The 8.4-inch multi touchscreen gives those in the front a user-friendly experience that is complemented by a double rotary knob in the central console – a neat fusion between man and machine that allows the driver to access radio, satnav, Bluetooth and other functions with ease.
Driver assist functions such as surround cameras and blind spot assistance, adaptive cruise control, collision warning and hill control complement the experience without overshadowing it. After all, Maserati was built in the Italian spirit of motorsport, where adrenaline, adventure and sensuality define its four-wheeled obsessions as much as effortlessness.