On the eve of 4th July 2016, the Maserati Levante got its Norwegian launch, and at nine o’clock the next morning, I was handed the keys to the only Levante in Norway, ready for an hour’s test drive. Having seen and test sat the car the night before, I quickly settled in and set off to the unmistakable rumble of a serious engine. The twin-turbo V-6 engine churns out 430 horsepower from its 3.0-litre displacement and propels the 2.1-ton Levante from a standstill to 100 km/h in a mere 5.2 seconds. Even the least powerful engine option, the 275-hp V-6 diesel, gets the Levante off the spot and to 100 km/h in 6.9 seconds, meaning you’re not ever likely to be feeling an urgent lack of power.
As I rolled on in my search for a twisty road, I felt a strong sensation of confidence in the machine I was piloting. The feel of the steering and the pedal response was very reassuring, and the excellent overview from the comfortable seating at such an elevated position meant I had no problem navigating intersections and lane changes in traffic. The Levante is indeed a very nice place to be when navigating in urban environments.
A curvy and undulating road soon presented itself, and I pushed the Sport button twice, once to sharpen engine response and rpm level and once more to stiffen up the suspension. The outcome was impressive, the large SUV swallowing corners like a sports car and attacking the next one with an insatiable appetite. There is no hiding its size and height, but for an SUV, it’s remarkably sporty. That Ferrari-produced V-6 keeps the ears satisfied throughout, more than once convincing me into believing I was driving a sports car. Operating the gear lever was one of the very few let-downs for me, as I didn’t quite get the feel for it.
The back seat offers space and comfort, even for a tall man like me with an equally tall man in the front seat. In general, the interior is what you would expect from a Maserati — lovely leather and brushed chrome details, with the option to have wood or carbon fibre on various surfaces. The sporty expression of the driving performance is mirrored inside, with seats offering ample support and buttons being readily available, as is the infotainment screen.
I usually try out more focused sports cars, but the Maserati Levante had me wishing I could take the Autobahn far away, only to return via curvy B-roads. Maserati has spent many years on the SUV subject, and it’s apparent that they have thought it through very well. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but then again, Maserati never aimed for that. It’s an SUV, and it’s a Maserati — no small feat.
This article was first published on lovecars.com.