Exclusive: We drive Maserati's luxury Levante SUV in Italy
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Maserati has just launched the Levante luxury SUV in Italy with the V6 diesel arriving in New Zealand at the end of the year.
While pricing is yet to be confirmed for the New Zealand market, we can expect the Levante to be priced approximately $10,000 above the Ghibli sedan, which would put Levante at $145,000.
Official pricing is due to be confirmed before the end of May with vehicles due in New Zealand in late December.
Maserati Australia and New Zealand chief operating officer, Glen Sealey, said Maserati expect strong sales from Levante with potential to sell as many as 400 SUVs in the first year between the Australian and New Zealand markets, depending on production availability which will be the limiting factor.
“I believe we can sell 400 units of Levante in the next year, but our biggest issue will be production. said Sealey.
"I think we’ll be lucky to get enough production [of Levante] to satisfy demand. ”
Launched in Parma, Italy, Driven was the exclusive New Zealand media representative at the event and drove the Levante from our base at the Tabiano Castello, a twelfth century castle nestled in the hills of Parma, on a varied route through the province including highway, twisty mountain roads, and an off-road course.
New Zealand will only be getting the 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel model at this stage, although there is potential to get the petrol variants if production allows and if other, larger right-hand-drive markets such as Britain take the petrol models.
The diesel Levante produces 202kW and 600Nm of torque with 90% of its maximum torque made below 2000rpm. One criticism that many of the journalists who drove the diesel had was that in sport mode the vehicle is too quiet, with an exhaust note not as thrilling as we are used to from a Maserati.
Even with the windows down and accelerating through the many tunnels in the mountains here, the exhaust note was still disappointingly muffled. With the vehicles we drove being pre-production units this is one area that Maserati is seriously taking a close look at improving before production starts for right hand drive markets in September.
While most owners won’t dare to take their Levante off road, Maserati’s SUV can more than handle itself when called upon. The Levante’s impressive off road ability, including height adjustable suspension and an off road driving mode, is just the touch of a button away.
Look for the full launch report in a coming issue of Driven Magazine.