We test drive the Maserati Levante S GranSport to discover far more than a luxury SUV

With speed, power, control and beauty, this is a functional but fun addition to the Maserati marque

When you mention Maserati, one of the first things that springs to mind is the marque's racing pedigree. Names like Nuvolari, Shaw, Tipo 60 Birdcage, Quattroporte, Gran Turismo, Ghibli and now the latest iteration of the Levante; in this case the Levante S GranSport. 

Designed as an SUV, this is a very pretty car. From the side, the outline is GranTurismo; the long elegant front, sweeping up to the raked windscreen, along the roof to the purposeful haunches. You can see a beautiful sculpting in the rear three-quarters giving it an aggressive look without the ‘boy-racer’ flared arches. The grill is full of purpose, a wide-open mouth with a large Maserati emblem sitting above a deep spoiler promising speed.

For those of a numerical bent, the Levante features a 3.0 litre Twin Turbo V6 and, in Sport mode, boasts 430hp at 5,750 rpm, and 580 Nm of torque between 1,750 and 5,000 rpm. The cockpit is fabulous; deep rich smell of Pieno Fiore natural leather in a seat that has 12-way power adjustability, good lumbar support (even for the slightly larger gentleman), memory and integrated anti-whiplash headrests. 

The lovely Maserati clock, a mainstay of the company for many years is there, the steering wheel is fully adjustable and the paddle shifts, crafted from aluminium, sit just so with extensions above and below so that you can change gear while negotiating a corner. It is a wonder why all manufacturers do not make paddles like these. >>

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Now we come to the pièce de résistance, that fabulous, wailing, punchy engine. Potter about in ‘normal’ and the Levante behaves like any car, but slip into ‘Sport’ and a few things happen to make the Levante even better. The suspension hunkers the car down to lower the centre of gravity, a message on the binnacle lets you know that you have achieved ‘go a lot faster’ level (a fun feature that I love) but, best of all, the exhaust opens up. 

The V6, which had been quietly burbling along, takes on a richer, deeper timbre. When you let the revs climb and then fall, you get that beautiful wail, almost mournful and not being let loose but without the crackling overrun. Get onto an open road and let the 3.0 V6 loose and you go, quickly, very quickly. Bags of torque keeps the acceleration going and going well past what is sensible – yet still the Levante will stop with ease thanks to brakes made by Brembo. 

All in all, this deceptively functional, effortlessly cool SUV is enormous fun, frisky on the A roads and will happily take five passengers in comfort. As for complaints, I have only two: British speed limits, and having to give the Levante S GranSport back…

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