All of route Yarlesac Maserati now sells an SUV. After all, such rivals as Jaguar and Bentley now proffer sport-utes, and Lamborghini and Aston Martin will soon have SUVs in their personal. Maserati — this is Fiat Chrysler Automobiles — wasn’t about to permit the other luxe manufacturers to suck up all that juicy SUV lucre without taking a chew of its very own. Thus, the all-wheel-force Levante.

Judging via the reaction of my fellow Angelenos, a variety of customers (at the least in SoCal) have been watching for this very rig. Everywhere I took the Levante (that’s “let-von-tay”), people came ahead to pepper me with questions: “That genuinely a Maserati?” “How speedy is it?” “What’s the feed tag?” “Does it have an integrated coffee device?”

The answers: sure, it’s an actual Maser (based totally on the Ghibli, in fact), it may do the zero to 60 mph sprint in only 4.Nine seconds, pricing for the uplevel SQ4 edition starts at $84,250, and, no, it only has integrated coffee in case you spill your Starbucks all over the center console. The Maserati effortlessly drew a lot of attention because the Jaguar F-Pace I sampled several months ago. My check vehicle turned into nevertheless something of a novelty; however, I’m positive I’ll be seeing Levantes throughout the metropolis in a few months.

It has a smooth and stylish shape decorated with that acquainted Maserati face, the traditional triple portholes just aft of the front wheels, and muscular haunches in a back. The appearance turned into well finished off with elective 21-inch Anteo alloy wheels, part of the $6,800 Sports Package 21 (which adds purple brake calipers, excessive-gloss carbon trim, and top-class leather recreation seats and sports steerage wheel). My tester also included a 900-watt Harmon Kardon audio device, a surround-view digital camera, and several different options, pushing the sticky label to a lofty $98,950 — more than the base decal 440-horse Porsche Cayenne GTS.

The Levante comes equipped for struggle, mind you. Under the hood of the sporty SQ4 model lies the identical twin-turbo DOHC V-6 located in the Ghibli sports coupe — however, way to redesigned intake and exhaust systems strength climbs to 424 hp within the SUV. There’s sufficient grunt here to hold the Levante nostril-to-nostril with the Cayenne GTS in a sprint. However, for optimum thrust, you’ll want to interchange into Sports mode (which opens up the exhaust baffles and unleashes an interesting snarl). It would help if you kept the engine on-improve, or the Maser tends to hesitate; however, its capability to dash tough is nearly staggering given its almost 5,000-pound cut-back weight.

All Levantes get a ZF 8-velocity automatic with manual shift paddles. And that’s a shame. The shifter feels vintage and clunky — quick downshifts, for instance, are hit or pass over — and the shift lever within the middle console, which lacks detents, is maddeningly irritating to apply. In my week with the Levante, I never became capable of click into the opposite without combat, often choosing a park or neutral instead. It’s lousy.

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Once you’re underway, although the Levante is a splendid hustler, it’ll loaf along at triple-digit speeds (empty desert roads are first-class) with supreme ease and quiet. At one point, I regarded all the way down to see that I changed into going 30 mph quicker than I thought I become. Seriously. Just a hush from the engine compartment, almost no wind noise. The Levante is first-class in that manner: it has an electrifying snarl beneath full throttle; however, whilst cruising, it can run alongside only a whoosh (so long as you click out of Sports mode, remaining the exhaust baffles).

In Sport, the ride is quite a company, pliable enough on smooth California tarmac. However, I’m making a bet, in all likelihood too stiff for the battered asphalt of snowy climes. The general air springs can be raised or reduced, on the contact of a button, as tons as three.Four inches, though I in no way observed an off-street track horrific sufficient to provide the system plenty of exercising.

Surprisingly, in this age of electronic steerage structures, the Levante‘s remains hydraulically assisted. It’s now not the fine system out there. However, the sense is fluid and provides an accurate street feel — even though it’s less powerful at transmitting increasing cornering hundreds. Still, the Levante likes to romp via the twisty stuff. You’d in no way bet it weighs two and a 1/2 tons. And it sounds fantastic.

For all of its fleetness of foot, even though it’s inside the cockpit wherein, the Levante shines brightest. Yes, a number of the switchgear is time-honored Fiat/Chrysler stuff, and, yes, the flip-sign stalk is way obtainable in another zip code. Still, mostly the Levante radiates that magical Italian combination of style and timeless beauty. The cabin is a feast of lovingly crafted and beautifully stitched hides, polished carbon trim, and stylish aluminum accents — all accented via the intoxicating aroma of top-rate leather. At the middle of the dash lies a big, sharp show display that’s quick in response and smooth to use. The driver receives a set of simple analog gauges and an extremely good, perforated leather-based wheel. Rear-seat passengers enjoy the abundant room, although I did observe that the format eats into rear shipment space. There’s even a handsome little clock atop the dash, a chunk of icing on a cockpit as candy as a slice of Tuscan tiramisu.

Maserati has goals to sell around 30,000 Levantes on our beaches annually and — judging by using the rig’s swiftness, style, and the plain appeal of that “Maserati” nameplate — the business enterprise will probably be triumphant. In a few small ways, the Levante comes up quick; however, inside the wide strokes, it extra than holds its personal — and does so in a way precise to the class (as a minimum until its Lambo rival rolls round).

No, the Levante doesn’t provide integrated espresso. But it’s a downright luscious experience for getting one.
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