Levante’s competitive pricing hits mark

Levante’s competitive pricing hits mark

Pricing and specification for the premier Levante SUV by Maserati-distributor European Automotive Imports has set some folks agog and others put out.

The entry-level Levante lists at $136,990, with Sport and Luxury-optioned models available at $155,990.

The pricing effectively puts the Levante midpoint between competitors, including the BMW X5 and the smaller Porsche Macan. It also makes the brand more accessible as it costs $13,000 less than the Ghibli range starter.

Kiwis will only have access to one drivetrain for the vehicle, a 202kW V6 turbo-diesel engine driving through an eight-speed automatic gearbox and Maserati’s ‘Q4’ intelligent four-wheel drive system, which defaults most of the time to run with all torque supplied to the rear wheels.

The standard ‘Skyhook’ adjustable air suspension has a total ride range of eight centimetres and five different drive modes, ranging from 85mm.

Maserati Australia, New Zealand and South Africa chief operating officer Glen Sealey told journalists gathered in Melbourne yesterday for the local unveiling of the car – whose buyer preference is for diesel at 86% in the luxury SUV sector – that it is not an issue that the Ferrari-built petrol V6 has not been made available to right-hand drive markets.

Sealy made it clear that Maserati occupies a new category in the market in that the company sees it as a traditional ‘premium’ brand such as BMW and Mercedes where it’s possible to have a luxury car but to also see the same badge on a van or entry-level hatchback. “And at the other end of the market are the ‘exotics’ – think Ferrari and McLaren – rare at $300,000-plus price tags.”

In the middle is Maserati, in a bracket the company has labelled ‘exclusive.’ “You won’t see a car smaller than Ghibli, or a SUV smaller than Levante. That role will fall to the Alfa Romeo brand,” adds Sealy.

Conversely, the Levante does make Maserati more accessible. It is also likely to more than double the brand’s sales, with it being anticipated that 80 will sell in the first year on sale, with 40 preorders already in hand.

Technically, the Levante is based on the evolution of the Ghibli and Quattroporte platform, designed exclusively by Maserati. The car chassis has been specifically developed to offer on-road driveability and ‘competitive’ off-road capability.

Front suspension is aluminium double wishbone with a five-link suspension layout in the rear. Featured in the rear is mechanical limited-slip differential, with torque vectoring capability. The 3.0-litre engine is capable of 202kW and delivers 0-100km/h in 6.9 seconds and a 230 km/h maximum speed while keeping fuel economy as low as 7.2L/100km on a combined cycle. The ZF eight-speed automatic transmission is well known, and can be shifted through paddles on the steering column.

The Levante has four drive modes, ‘Normal’, ‘ICE’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Off-road’. Each one constitutes a distinct car character, intelligently altering engine, transmission, suspension and electronics features. For the first time the Levante brings ‘intellegent’ safety features to the brand, including adaptive cruise control with stop-go function, forward collision warning and brake assist system, lane departure warning, and a surround view camera. The Levante gets a new 8.4-inch touch screen display, and updated Maserati Touch software. Navigation is standard, as is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The longest car in its segment, the Levante is also one of the most aerodynamic. A part of that is a new air shutter, clearly visible through the broad chrome mouth of the car. The air shutter is located between the front air vents and the engine’s radiator. Thanks to the continuous, electronically controlled movement of the blades, the shutter controls the air flow to the engine compartment, which provides optimal control of the engine temperature, reduces the aerodynamic drag of the car and subsequently reduces fuel consumption and emissions.

The standard equipment also includes, leather upholstery, Maserati 8.4” Touch Screen, audio system with eight speakers, cruise control, hill descent control, dual-zone climate system, wipers with rain sensor, keyless entry and power lift tailgate. Leather is standard throughout, with upgraded seats in the Sports and Luxury packages. The front seats are 12-way electrically adjustable.

The Sports package includes the front grille and front/rear skid plates in black piano trim, body-coloured rear sport spoiler, steel door sills, sports seats and steering wheel, colour-matched lower body, 21-inch machine polished wheels, red brake calipers, gearshift paddles, brushed steel sport pedals and a Harman Kardon sound system.

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