Among the world’s leading car manufacturers, Maserati has been a little late to the party with its SUV models. In the case of the Levante, it was presented at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2011 as the “Kubang” concept car, but it did not go into production until 2016. But the final result was as expected, not only reintroducing the old Italian car manufacturer to the public but also indirectly giving birth to another hatchback, the Grecale.
But even though the new Poseidon was ready to sail, the Maserati Levante GT Mild Hybrid continued to be tweaked in the meantime, especially when the structure and configuration were geared towards the GT model, which has become more approachable. And the same great set-up that comes from the race track is also present in this seemingly nascent, yet powerful, luxury SUV.
Keeping up with the times
What does the Levante GT offer as an entry-level model? In a nutshell, the power unit has been revised and its identity has been changed accordingly. The familiar front end features a baleen whale-like tank guard and, with the optional ADAS active driver assistance system, a flat, inlaid badge. However, I believe that for Maserati owners, a Poseidon still needs to be driven, and the use of the term GT even for the entry-level model is only a natural fit for every Maserati model.
So while the Levante is still largely in memory, it is in fact possible to see that the original manufacturer has deliberately applied additional cobalt blue accents to the badge, the fender fins, and even the calipers and C-pillar badges, not only to identify the GT model, but also as a symbol of the electrification module, as a sign of environmental protection and cleanliness. Of course, the fender is also emblazoned with the exclusive GT lettering.
But it is also worth noting that on this test model, the wheels have been deliberately upgraded from 19″ to 20″ in the Nereo shape with the classic five-spoke trident, and are fitted with 265/45R20 Pirelli P Zero performance tyres, thus enhancing the overall appearance of the Levante GT. The front-six and rear-four caliper set used on the high-spec Trofeo is now available on this test car, and the front discs have even been upgraded to 380mm, so it’s no wonder that the braking system was the first thing that surprised me when I picked up the car.
At the rear of the car, even though it is an SUV and even the entry-level model is no longer available with V6 power due to environmental concerns, the Levante GT’s exhaust note is still quite captivating thanks to the quad tailpipes and tuning, as well as the vibration provided by the resonators and the exhaust fluid dynamics. Although admittedly less mellow, it is also more high, a bit like switching from a brass instrument to a woodwind saxophone, which is not shocking but gives it a jazz-like lightness. But when the electric tailgate opens slowly, the rear compartment has a capacity of almost 580 litres, which is perhaps not outstanding for its class, but it is functional to a certain extent. Add to this the fact that, in addition to the tyre repair kit in the floor, there is also a very sophisticated service kit, complete with leather gloves, and it is clear why the Italian car has gained such a cult following over the centuries, a detail and a taste that comes from the rhythm of life.
But perhaps the interior of the car is a more elegant expression of the Italian style than the exterior. Despite the familiarity of the front and rear seats, the soft leather of the Pieno Fiore and the Alcantara suede top reveal that warmth and comfort are still part of the Levante GT’s aspirations, along with the blue trident on the headrests and the support and feedback provided by the foam. The Levante GT is also a true example of the Italian sofa craftsmanship. The rear seat width of 1,170mm, the hip height of 930mm, the 440mm thigh support of the rear seat, the 1,350mm width between the B-pillars and the 980mm height of the front two seats, as well as the 420mm distance between the front edge of the driver’s seat and the brake pedal, confirm the Levante’s space efficiency. The Levante’s performance in terms of space is not to be underestimated.