As much fun as any sports car
When it comes to styling, you cannot beat Italian-designed vehicles, they just seem to have everything right inside and out, and the Levante S GranSport is no exception. I am not generally a fan of SUV styling, but Maserati has won me over.
In most cases, driving an SUV can be a rather mundane experience for an auto enthusiast as they handle well, but nothing compared to a well-sorted sports car. All that changed when I drove the Maserati Levante, a vehicle that makes driving an SUV as much fun as almost any sports car.
Even as a journalist, it is not often that I get to drive an exotic car like a Maserati, and ones that I have ridden have been a little disappointing in many areas. So when I jumped in the Levante GranSport, I was not expecting to find anything I really liked. How wrong I was!
The interior of the Levante is well-designed, with all the controls easy to reach and work with little effort. The Italian-designed leather seats are what you dream of in a unique car, great looking and comfortable with fully adjustable settings on both seats. The back seats are equally good-looking and comfortable; I would say that the rear seating is ideal for two and no more. Head room, both front and rear, is about average for an SUV.
As this is an SUV, the rear luggage area is of a decent size, considering this is a different vehicle which traditionally doesn’t have any room for much of anything. The split rear seats allow for a passenger and a longer item to be stowed in the rear.
The car I was given to drive was the Levante S GranSport which is equipped with a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine with 424 horsepower and a stump pulling 428 lb-ft of torque. All this made my drive in the Levante lightning fast for an SUV, in fact 0 to 100 km/h was a very quick 5.2 seconds. The generous torque of the engine allows for good acceleration up those slopes on the Sea-to-Sky Highway to Squamish allowing for easy passing.
The power gets to the front and rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic which I found to be excellent. For those who want to shift themselves, there are shift paddles on the console. I preferred to just leave it in drive and let the computer do the thinking which worked well for me in tight turns and curvy roads.
The suspension on the vehicle is an adjustable air system that moves up or down depending on whether you are on a pavement or off road. Another nice standard feature of the Levante S is a limited slip rear axle which I personally like as it adds to traction in wet or snow condition. If you decide a little off-roading is necessary, the Levante does have a hill descent feature which is great when driving on steep dirt or gravel roads. Wheels on the vehicle are a stylish alloy. Hiding under the big wheels are large multi-piston calipers on cross-drilled rotors. Those who want even more traction can opt for 20 or 21 inch wheels and tires.
When it comes to styling, you cannot beat Italian-designed vehicles, they just seem to have everything right inside and out, and the Levante S GranSport is no exception. I am not generally a fan of SUV styling, but Maserati has won me over. If you are looking for something not everyone has, than this vehicle is well worth a look.
Horsepower: 424 @ 5,750
Torque (lb-ft): 428 @ 1,750
Layout: Front engine, all-wheel drive
Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic
Fuel economy: 15 L/100 km city & 8 L/100 km highway