What Car? says...
What do Porsche, Bentley and now Maserati all have in common? No, it’s nothing to do with race victories or rakish sports cars, and everything to do with SUVs – each of these manufacturers now has at least one in its range.
Maserati’s offering, the Levante, sticks to a familiar formula. You can choose from a petrol or diesel engines, all 3.0-litre V6s. There’s also four-wheel drive and space for five people on board.
As you’d expect, even the entry-level version of the Levante carries a high price tag, although you do get a reasonable amount of kit for your cash. Even so, it’s possible to push the price up even higher with the dizzying array of options available.
Read on over the next four pages to see how good the Levante is to drive, what it’s like inside and how much it will cost to run.
And if you want to buy a Levante, check out our great prices on New Car Buying.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
First up – and the engine that’s likely to appeal to the majority of Levante buyers – is the 3.0 diesel V6. With 271bhp, it certainly has plenty of punch. Unfortunately, the car's weighty body means it’s only slightly faster than the Ford Fiesta ST. The engine is also exceedingly clattery when starting from cold, sounding more like something from a truck than a premium SUV. It does get a lot quieter when warm, but there’s always an underlying grittiness to how it sounds, as well as some vibration through the controls.
The 3.0-litre petrol V6 is better and even emits a fairly entertaining snarl when you push on, although it quietens when you’re cruising on the motorway. With 345bhp, it feels noticeably faster than the diesel model, with enough pace for you to confidently overtake slower traffic should you find yourself on an enjoyable stretch of country road. It's certainly brisk, but you'll need to step up to the 424bhp Levante S if you're used to the level of performance you get from a Porsche Cayenne.
The Levante's eight-speed automatic gearbox can be ponderous at low speeds, not helped by the petrol engine's low-rev lethargy that makes it quite sluggish off the line. The 'box can be hesitant to kick down on the move, and, although Sport mode helps, it then leaves the car in too low a gear when cruising. You can take over manually using tactile metal paddles behind the steering wheel, but it can be reluctant to change down.
The hefty weight of the Levante also has a big effect on handling. The car may come with adjustable air suspension as standard, but it struggles to stay upright in turns, even when in its sportiest setting. Factor in steering that's slow and not overly accurate and you get an SUV that doesn’t corner with the same enthusiasm as Porsche's Macan or Cayenne.
And despite the Levante being soft during hard cornering, it doesn't have a particularly good ride, either. It always feels quite firm, yet it struggles to keep its mass in check over undulating roads and doesn’t isolate you from potholes and expansion joints at all well. We suspect smaller wheels would help, but we have yet to try such an example.
The interior layout, fit and finish
At first glance, the Levante looks as opulent as you’d hope from a Maserati. Leather seats and a leather-topped dashboard are standard, although you need to spend extra for an extended leather pack for the full effect. Look a little closer and some of the plastics feel surprisingly cheap, however.
Likewise, some of the switches are a little flimsy, while the gear lever doesn't feel as substantial as rivals'. The infotainment is taken care of by an 8.4in touchscreen and a rotary controller. We normally favour this type of control, but it feels like an afterthought in the Levante. To be honest, the touchscreen is far less hassle.
In use, the system looks quite dated and can be slow to respond, although it does at least feature sat-nav, a DAB radio and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring.
Even the tallest of drivers should be able to get comfortable in the Levante, thanks to plenty of adjustment for the comfortable seat and steering wheel.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
The Levante is a big car, and it feels it inside. There's good head room up front and the interior is wide, so you won’t be clashing elbows with your neighbour.
Rear passengers certainly get plenty of leg room, but head room is tighter; tall individuals may find their head brushing the ceiling. A rear seat that can recline helps, though, and makes for more comfortable cruising whatever your height.
The boot is a good size, but you won’t find the option of seven seats. Squarer-backed SUVs have more room, but you can fold the Levante's rear seats down to get longer items in.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
The starting point for Levante ownership might seem reasonable, but it’s possible to add a five-figure sum in options. Standard equipment includes leather seats, climate control and a touchscreen infotainment system, but you have to pay extra for heated seats, sportier exterior design and a truly sumptuous interior.
Running costs are also on the high side, no matter which engine you go for. The diesel unit emits 207g/km of CO2 and offers records official fuel consumption of 35.8mpg. In practice, we found the figure to be just over 30mpg.
The petrol Levante will cost you even more, returning just 24.4mpg officially (that dips under 20mpg with even moderate real-world use) and emitting 268g/km of CO2. At least the more powerful S isn't much worse, at 23.9mpg and 273g/km.
Also consider the fact that the Levante is pricey to lease and finance on a PCP deal, due to heavy depreciation.
While you get the usual selection of airbags and electronic controls, automatic emergency braking comes as part of an option pack. This also adds adaptive cruise control with a stop/go function, plus blindspot monitoring, lane-keeping assistance and traffic sign recognition. Should that appeal, you'll be paying a four-figure sum for the privilege.
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|RRP price range||£79,550 - £169,625|
|Number of trims (see all)||8|
|Number of engines (see all)||3|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||petrol|
|MPG range across all versions||19.6 - 29.1|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||3 years / No mileage cap|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£5,718 / £12,355|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£11,437 / £24,711|